I have kids with issues. It’s no secret and I don’t hide them away from other people. When people talk about their kids, they sometimes skim over the bad stuff and brag about the good. I’m not one of those parents. I love my kids. I have a lot of them (more than average, I’d suppose). When you start adding people to a family, it really changes the dynamics. Going from a couple to a couple with a child changes things (ever heard the statement- Having a baby changes everything? Well try that nearly half a dozen times, and you’ve got us.)
Two of my children live in the land of IEPs (Individual Education Plan), therapy, and my constant visits to the school. They attend regular public school here. There ages are 11 and 8, and they (like almost all of my kids) are boys.
We started our journey with ‘issues’ when I was just a young mother of three. My now 11 year old son was 3 years old and I KNEW something wasn’t ‘quite right’ about him. He never stopped, he never sat still. I spent more time than I care to admit out of work and in the pediatrician’s office, trying to figure out what was wrong with him. He wasn’t potty trained (in fact, he wanted nothing to do with potty training). He was wild.
Like raised by wolves wild.
The pediatrician kept saying that it was a stage, and he’d out grow it. He was smart and advanced and huge. He threw the most horrid temper tantrums. He once picked up a chair (at 3 years old) and threw it, smashing an electrical outlet (which we had to repair in the dark of night because I was certain that someone was going to get shocked). That was at 3 years old.
But well before that, I worried. I worried when he was just a baby and he couldn’t STAND for me to hold him or touch him. He’d flip out. He wasn’t affectionate, at all. He’d smile, if he felt like it, but wasn’t smiley. I chalked it up to every baby was different, and hell what did I know? I was 18 years old, raising this baby, and didn’t have a place to live.
I’m pretty sure that screwed him up a bit, even as young as he was.
I worried about him when I brought our second son home. I’d lay the baby in the pack and play to rest, and come back to check on him to find my oldest had managed to find a knife and was cutting into the playpen, inches from the baby’s face.
But, I was told, that my son was normal. Even when he flipped out and broke things, hurt people, he was ‘normal’. He went ape-crazy in the pediatrician’s office and she actually had to restrain him in the corner of the room. She referred us out at that point to see a different doctor.
My oldest has been through therapist after therapist. Therapy after therapy. He was diagnosed at four years old (4!!) with depression and possibly bi-polar disease (but they didn’t want to place a label like that on a child so young).
Everyone was honest from that point out. They didn’t know how much of his behavior was normal four year old (and growing) behavior, and how much of it was psychosis.
He went through a lot of preschools and baby sitters. One lady lasted only a day. I went to pick him up from her house and she asked me to never come back. I was hurt and mortified. How could my parenting skills be so terrible? Family didn’t even want to take care of him or watch him for me, no matter how much I paid (except my sister in law, whom has watched my kids on and off over the early years. I would later find out that she was hitting and beating my children).
My pediatrician tried to get me to have him committed. At four years old.
I didn’t, and we did eventually start him in kindergarten. We bought a house out in the country (which had me commuting 2 hours to a job that I loved) so that he could go to a good school. What had been bad in preschool (which now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that they were horribly mistreating my son), grew worse in public school.
He would throw these temper tantrums. He’d soil and wet himself. He’s slam his head into the metal filing cabinet. He was wild and emotional and out of control. His kindergarten teacher was a male, and he had the most conflict with him. Eventually, we had him tested and put in special education. He wore pull-ups to kindergarten, had changes of clothes. He was in a contained classroom because he was out of control.
I believe now, though I have no way of proving it, that my sister-in-law and her husband both abused my son(s). Call it a gut instinct or a feeling, but I believe that the few short times my sister-in-law came into my home (MY HOME) and watched my three sons (then aged 3,2, and a newborn) that she and her husband physically and sexually abused my sons. Maybe it’s because my kids tell me that she hit them, or perhaps it’s because her husband admits to wanting to have sex with little boys (can you imagine, he announced this at Christmas the last Christmas we were there, 3 years ago).
You never think you have to worry about your sons. Your daughters, especially if you are a victim of child abuse yourself, you think that it’s very possible they will be victimized, but your sons as victims? I never in a million years thought that I would ever even have to think about it.
My pediatrician asked us when we started bringing our oldest in with his potty problems at 4-5 years old, did we think he could have been the victim of child abuse. We didn’t know. We both said that we didn’t think so, but we didn’t know. At that time, we didn’t know that my husband’s sister was bringing her then-boyfriend, now husband around when we were at school.
I believe that they hurt my child.
Again, I can’t prove it and the kids were so young that they don’t really remember much from back then. We’ve asked in round about ways because we don’t want to have them have false memories, nor do we want to bring up the past if it’s not needed.
So, my son is emotionally disturbed. He’s 11 years old now.
We’ve battled IEPs for him. He still has issues with the bathroom, but he’s actively working on it. He has severe depression (but is not medicated for it). He also has ADHD (though I wonder if he’s only ADD since he’s not very hyperactive anymore). We are slowly working on him, with him, to make him a well-adjusted member of society.
I’ve had to quit my job.
Sure, sure. I’ve told everyone that I quit my job because I was missing out on so much of my children’s lives (and I was) but that was just part of it. My kids needed protection and parents that had someone available 24/7. Childcare costs were ridiculous, so for the first two years after our daughter was born, my husband stayed home, and I guarantee not bouncing around from care-giver to caregiver helped her be more stable.
When my husband was done with his degree, he was ready to go back to work and I stepped down from my position in the medical practice and stayed home with my kids. We probably could have afforded to have all of them in daycare (possibly) at that point, but it was time for us to put our kids ahead of everything else.
I didn’t have children to have other people raise them.
Fast forward to last spring, when I attempted to go back to work. I was several months pregnant and my daughter was attending a few days a week morning preschool. I decided that I would work part-time at the daycare. Through some error on my part, I somehow ended up a lead teacher working full time. My daughter hated preschool full time and would cry, and fight, and hide things to keep me from going to work. I finally got a letter to knock me down to half-days, so she’d only attend half-days, but it was too late. She hated it. All of it.
And I quit my job. Part was the horrible strain that working full time while being pregnant with a giant, energy sucking parasite (as I lovingly thought of him), and part was the fact that my kids really needed me… at home.
In the two short months I worked (yes, it was just two months), my kids managed to get in all kind of trouble (to include burying our house key in the sand box and getting the MPs involved in them trying to get back into our house). Right before spring break last year, I left work and never returned.
I wish that I could say that things got better with the kids, but they didn’t. In fact, they got worse. My now 8 year old son was 7 at the time, and if there was ever an award for the most frustrating kid in the world to love, he’d be putting his oldest brother to shame with it.
It started the last day of school. It was between my husband’s near-death ICU visits, at the end of my pregnancy, and for some ungodly reason my 7 year old decided to go mental. Full out, hug-yourself-with-a-straight-jacket, no shoelaces mental. He had been acting up and being defiant at school to this point, but the teacher insisted that she could/would totally handle his defiant and impulsive, literal behavior (as she said at the last Parent-Teacher conference).
So, the last day of school, he wanders to the garbage area of our complex, pockets two cans of degreaser and climbs on his transport bus from our village to the main post. He threatens to kill himself and everyone on board (at the time there were few people on).
That is the first of many, many suspensions.
If I ever thought I’d not survive my oldest child’s ways, it was child’s play in light of my middle child’s psychosis. He’s threatened to kill himself (and others) so many times, and has had means to do both. The ONLY reason he’s not been institutionalized is because we are living in a foreign, non-English speaking, 3rd world country with limited resources.
Where we live, it feels like prison.
Rare pictures of our prison-esque life here (taken at night for effect).
My 8 year old has been upgraded to contained classroom, complete with an extensive IEP. To the school, he is a danger to himself and others. It’s why he’s already racked up an impressive 13 days of out of school suspension so far (and I am realistic when I say ‘So Far’).
He has been diagnosed as ADHD, ODD, and Depression NOS. Up until last week, he was taking 54mg of Concerta daily. Last week, we decided to take him off his meds. I haven’t shared the ‘good news’ with the school.
I don’t know what the future holds for my middle child. I am hopeful that he will be able to find a path in life that is good and pure, but realistically I have to be prepared that he will live with me forever, or could end up in a group home or in prison. I’m not trying to be negative, and I don’t talk about that aspect of where his life is heading if he doesn’t get a better grasp of himself.
I have hope though. I have hope that once we return to our home country, and we leave our host country behind, we can get him the help he desperately needs (beyond therapy and some well placed words on a paper in the form of an IEP). I see how happy he is when he’s home with us, in his normal environment, and I have hope that one day I won’t have to worry about whether or not he will hurt himself or others.
Until then, I will fight to have my sons’ rights respected.
I am a mom, and I have kids with special needs. They’re not the kind that they have walks for or that most people understand or think of when you say special needs, but they are special needs, none the less.