Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zombie Attack.

I think a lot of the problem with me and blogging recently has been this issue with the zombies. I'm like this in real life, too. When I have something that I need to get off my chest, but also know it may be in my best interest to keep it to myself, I find myself paralyzed by it. I can't choke it back, but I can't move forward unless that big lump in my throat is gone.

This isn't one of my favorite things about myself, and as I'm rapidly approaching the Great Cliffs of Forty and getting ready to hurtle over into middle age, I suspect this is something I may be stuck with. I love the idea of myself as Clint Eastwood, all flinty-eyed and reserved, but instead I'm just a gigantic emotional mess.

So what to do?

Tell you all about our wretched relationship with some of our neighbors, I suppose. Clint would never do it, but I notice that he doesn't have a blog, either. Therein lies the fundamental difference.

I'll tell you the story of my summer, then, but as Dave Pilken, author of the Captain Underpants series says, "before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story."

I sent an email to Alex's teacher this morning telling him that we're working with his psychiatrist to make sure the medication he is taking has as little an impact on his appetite as possible. Alex is a small kid. He's 4'4" and weighs less than 70 pounds. How much of it is genetic and how much is due to the medication tempering his appetite I don't know, but I constantly worry about it, and for 3 years we've tried to walk the line of giving him as little medication as possible and still have him be able to maintain throughout the school day. So the email I sent to her stated that because snack time is at 10:30, his medication time is 11:30, and his lunch is at 1:00, I would like him to be able to eat a heartier snack with more protein in it, and to please give him time to eat the snack. Unless he's deliberately dawdling, then feel free to lay down the smake on his ass.

I exchange emails with his teacher every single day, just like I did last year. We have a yearly IEP meeting as well as monthly meetings with his teachers. He sees a psychiatrist twice a month. He has personal aides in both school and summer camp. We put him in swimming classes and have a meeting with whatever teenager is teaching his class that year about his special requirements. We have daily discussions with the two college dudes that supervise him at the YMCA program after school. We have a strict bedtime regimen that we don't deviate from.

But when he goes outside to play, well, that's our Waterloo.

Here's what I wanted: I wanted him to be able to go outside and ride his bike and play like a normal kid, and as it turns out, I can't. I can't because he goes outside and acts weird. He can't interact with people very well. He either doesn't make sense, or he addresses everyone with that loud, atonal bossy sound that people with social issues sometimes have that other people find off-putting. He has poor impulse control coupled with a need to have everything stay the same. This isn't a good combination for people who go outside, because everything is always changing, and you can't control any of it. When Alex was three, he was obsessed with opening people's car doors. That habit was curtailed when he opened the car door of a car that had an alarm. What a great deterrent that was! It scared the pants off him, and he cried and cried and never did it again.

Unfortunately, the lesson he learned was not "Don't mess with other people's stuff," but rather "don't mess with other people's cars." He simply transferred his curiosity to their garages.

My stubborn wishful thinking led me to believe that I could give him parameters of where he could go when he's outside (parameters he's largely obeyed, to give credit where credit is due), and check on him every 10-15 minutes.

But after this summer, okay. I get it. I finally get it. To keep him safe, I have to stand out there every single second and stare at him. And even then, it's still not going to be good enough, because sometimes I have to go to the bathroom, or take a shower, and he's been known to leave the house when I'm doing that. And, as you will see in the following posts, going to the bathroom has consequences for Steve and me that it doesn't have for other parents.

What's going to happen to him when he grows up and has never had the opportunity to take care of himself? What's going to happen to him when I die and can't stand over him every single second anymore? These are the things I asked myself when he'd go outside to play, and I always decided to let him try some independence with occasional checking. My neighbors, however, had other ideas. Lots of other ideas, actually, and none of them included letting Alex out to play by himself. You know, like their kids do.

The opinion of the neighborhood, or at least some of the neighborhood, is that we're the family with the out of control kid we never watch. And being that I am actually micromanaging his snack and coordinating snack-eating with both his teacher and a psychiatrist, I have to say that really stings.

I've written myself into tears now, so I'm going to stop here. I'll get into neighbor specifics in a later post.