Things can slip so very easily, as I have recently discovered. One day you are strutting down the street, wondering how on earth you got yourself in such a fuss about one thing and another and then the next, you’ve not washed your hair for four days and your eyes are red raw from crying, about one thing and another.
How does that happen? How do we slip from taking it all in our stride to feeling like the sky is going to fall down? For me, this time, it went a little like this.
So we’re walking down the street with a spring in our step, my son is in school, ok not full time, but he’s going, he’s coping with what he’s being asked to achieve and within the time he’s there, he’s hitting his “targets”.
Ok now, my son is in school full time, he’s not coping, he’s not achieving what he’s being asked to achieve, he’s not meeting his targets and life for him must feel like a long string of failures, with a massive helping of stress.
As soon as the expectations are taken to a greater level, he is deregulated and unable to cope with the pressure which is being placed upon him.
This in turn brings a ramped up level of controlling behaviour at home, unable to affect change on his school life, he turns his attention to his home environment. He won’t go to bed, brush his teeth, take a bath, eat breakfast, brush his hair, go on family outings and the list goes on.
The boy is confrontational, argumentative and unhappy about a lot of things.
Cue parents under a greater amount of pressure and parenting differences between mum and dad become more exaggerated.
Boy and dad argue, boy has been rude to dad, dad is unhappy and boy uses unkind, hurtful language to push dad further away.
Dad is maddened by the increase in abusive language and behaviour.
Mum is anxious to make it stop, she steps in.
Dad does not like mum to step in. He wants to be able to sort things out himself. Mum should leave him to it.
Mum is worried for both dad and child.
Dad is now cross with mum for stepping in and being too soft on boy.
Older child, boy number two, is looking in from the outside, seeing people becoming tense. He’s thinking it must be his fault, it’s always his fault. He needs mum.
Mum is not always available because mum is either with his brother or sad because of it all.
Cue more increased anxiety, this time from older child, boy number two.
Boy number two also becomes a little more difficult around bedtime and other requests by parents. Agitation is a known method of producing attention. He begins to sulk and look at mum with a sad face. He reaches out for a hug every time he sees her.
Mum is starting to feel drained, from trying to support everyone and keep the peace. The sight of boy number two sulking and asking for hugs is driving her potty. His neediness and her lack of desire to meet his needs, start to compound the feelings that she is not doing a good job.
Mum cries again. Dad knows she’s crying, boy knows she’s crying and boy two knows she’s crying.
Dad is frightened by mum crying, boy is frightened by mum crying and boy two is frightened by mum crying.
Dad tries to make it better but he’s not always sure how.
Dad really wants to fix this, he feels frustrated and tense because he can’t.
“I’m alright she says”
“Phew” says dad, boy and boy two.
This same dance takes place a number of times over one weekend.
Monday comes and boy does not want to go to school. Boy two however goes off happily, relieved to be escaping the madness.
Boy really doesn’t want to go.
“I don’t want to go” he says
“I don’t want to go” he says
“I don’t want to go” he says.
“I know” says mum.
He goes but his face is so, so sad.
Mum cries again, she feels like the worst mum in the world.
Mum doesn’t wash her hair for four days and counting……