Our journey is always evolving. I'm sure yours is, too. You see, just when we get into a groove and think we may just have things figured out, life has a tendency to throw a really nasty curveball our way. That curve ball can be handled a few different ways. We can let it freeze us and keep us rooted in place. We can let it fool us, causing us to swing and badly miss, or we can keep our head on the ball and fight it off.
When life has thrown us a nasty curveball, we've attempted each of these approaches. I feel like in the beginning of our journey we spent a lot of time swinging and missing badly. When our son first started developing challenging behavior in toddlerhood, we chalked it up to the "Terrible Two's" (which morphed into the "Terrible Three's") and adopted the discipline approach most parents choose: punishment. Our go-to method was timeout...I hate that word now.
We would place him on the top step for his infraction and set the timer. You know the drill, right? One minute for every year of age. Well, let me tell you, two minutes turned into 15, 30, 45... Our attempt at timeout usually resulted in him freaking out, running away, screaming, hitting, and eventually rolling around sobbing on the floor. I can still see that damn step and those exhausted parents who thought if they just stuck with it, eventually he would catch on and be "manageable."
I'm going to let you in on a little secret...he never caught on. In fact, he got more aggressive and agitated. He would get so angry we'd have to put him in his room and keep him there so he didn't harm his baby sister or older two siblings. This happened every day. Every damn day. As time went on, we would try every "behavior management" system known to mankind, but nothing worked. We were blindly swinging and missing terribly.
As time went on, we froze. The next downward spiral would have my husband and I looking at each other with arms in the air saying, "Now what?"
When we couldn't come up with a logical, reasonable answer, we'd just stand there staring. Sometimes we'd get angry, other times we'd cry. Often we would end up in a huge argument because we couldn't agree on how to manage the child who was slowly taking our family hostage with his outbursts.
After struggling for a significant amount of time, we kept our head on that ball and fought it off. We have fought countless curveballs over the years. We cut out food dye. We went to 8 different doctors. Moved to be in a different school district. Tried 8 medications. Chiropractic care. Essential oils. Occupational therapy. Psychology. Sensory objects. No video games. Homeschooling. We have put up one hell of a fight, yet we're still not putting the ball in play.
We've been at this for nearly 7 years, yet here are. We still feel hopeless. Stuck. Helpless.
It would be so easy to throw in the towel. To just say, "Screw it," and let him sit in front of a screen for all of his waking hours and just slide through life on his terms. Yet here we are. Still doing our best to set boundaries. Still exploring the next option that might just help him. Still fighting for our son and a better quality of life for our whole family. Still researching and considering huge life changes just to see if that would help.
I have to tell you, while we literally fight every damn day, it is utterly exhausting. He is getting older. Bigger. Stronger. Faster. We've had a very challenging week and had to have conversations with each other and his medical team that I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams. It's absolutely heartbreaking to be unable "fix it" for him. As parents, we protect our children. We nurture them and do the best we can to keep them safe and love them. Sometimes, though, we just can't.
It feels like we're on the cusp of something big here. We are at a fork in the road and there are three different options to choose. I do not know what the future has in store for us, but whichever road we choose, our decision will not have been made lightly. In fact, we will likely have agonized over it and looked over every angle a hundred times over.
Head on the ball. See it in. Fight it off. Repeat.
One day we hope to knock it out of the park. Only time will tell.