I feel much better today. When I pressed the publish button on “Sometimes,” I was clearly feeling sorry for Joe…and myself.
I felt both guilty and stupid for having shared my moment of weakness with the world. I felt silly because I know there are people out there helping their children through issues far greater than what we’re dealing with.
But there’s guilt about the other side of our story. The one where sometimes I wish I had a little boy who ran head long into a rough and tumble game of football. One who wanted to join in on a game of baseball or run with the pack of children chasing a soccer ball. Those wishes make me feel awful.
Or I wish that when we did have a friend over – usually the brother of one of Gwen’s friends – I didn’t feel the need to explain Joe’s ADHD/social anxiety or maybe Asperger’s Syndrome or maybe just social anxiety or maybe all three. I wish I didn’t have to spend an hour trying to facilitate interaction while trying not to hover. But I have to because Joe feels safer if he escapes into a video game rather than play with another child. It takes him a while to warm up. It takes him an hour to make eye contact and sometimes, consistent eye-contact doesn’t happen at all.
These are aren’t exactly social behaviors that other seven-year-olds understand. They certainly don’t feel comfortable hanging out with the kid who seems to ignore them.
I get anxious. I get sad and I feel guilty for feeling frustrated. I feel awful for wishing for something different. I beat myself about it because I love my son and I see that confident, happy side. The one that does make eye contact and who is developing a razor-sharp wit and sarcasm. He goes to Jukado and after school kid’s clubs and he’s now part of a social skills group at school courtesy of an IEP.
I get tired of explaining that I can’t hang out at one of Gwen’s many weekend preschool engagements because sometimes these group things get overwhelming for Joe. Sometimes I just can’t stomach the idea of 2 hours trying to help Joe socialize, listen, make eye contact and respond to people while I also deal with his little sisters. I don’t want to deal with the quizzical glances of other parents wondering if he’s a brat or if there’s something wrong. The parents that attempt to reprimand him for not sitting still or not looking them in the eyes (yes, people do that.) I get tired of feeling like I’m probably viewed as the anti-social bitchy mom because I stay home with Joe while Dave brings the girls out to parties and carnivals.
Yes, sometimes I avoid birthday parties and let Dave go. Mostly because I just can’t go through the pain of watching Joe choose to play by himself. Thankfully, there have been a few birthday invites this year, thanks to Gwen’s friends.
I get angry. I force my fingers to dial the telephone numbers of his classmates and face the possibility of more rejection. Because at this point, it hurts us both.
I want to scream at the school counselor who suggests that Joe likes to play by himself because, “that’s just who he’s going to be.”
And then, on the day I was feeling so sorry for us that I published a sad blog post, my beautiful boy came home wearing a smile. I heard his little feet running through the house while he searched for me, bursting with smiles and happy news. He played kickball at recess. He was invited to play with two classmates and his smile spoke volumes. His entire spirit seemed lighter. Happy.
All in all, it’s been a good week. Thanks for letting me vent and for sending such kind words of encouragement, advice and support.