To date, this is the worst sentence I've heard Eliot utter. I had just asked him how his day at school was, knowing he's been struggling a lot lately.
"I don't like myself anymore. My brain doesn't work like everyone else's. I want to be normal. I'm frustrated all day. I can't make my brain focus."
I almost had to pull the car over.
This self-expression is a trophy of the last 2 years with a language pathologist. And while I was so crazy proud of how well he explained his feelings, I was crushed. There was frustration and a lack of the big picture, there was no grace, only failure.
So after a couple years of testing every accommodation, every intervention, every thing we could think of between ourselves and the teachers, we made the appointment with the doctor. As a teacher, I hated watching my students struggle but watching them on ADD meds was sometimes even worse. Unless the dosage and medicine are the exact right fit, I'd seen a lot of negative effects.
This was our last resort. But after hearing him say that, I picked my heart up off the ground and told him we'd try something new.
Fast forward to yesterday. Dez and I pull Eliot from school right before lunch and zip off west for our appointment. We were there for a sweet forever as the doctor and I went over a bazillion questions. (In all honestly, it probably didn't take that long, but the two boys were creating the loudest circus possible in the room and I realized too late that I should have fed them before the appointment. And gotten a babysitter for Dez. And snuck a box of wine in my bag. And possibly a taser.) The inevitable "No Family Medical History" bright red flag showed up and the doctor voiced her concerns over starting a medicine that can affect heart rates with no knowledge of whether or not that should be a concern. We agreed an EKG gathering base line stats would be our best option.
So instead of taking my anxious 7 year old and overly-tired 2 year old back home (did I mention nap time was several hours ago?), we booked an appointment at the hospital. The office worker asked if I minded waiting 20 or so minutes for the insurance to be cleared and I asked her if she minded me taking my boys to lunch instead. I see your helpfulness and raise you an I'm-getting-them-out-of-here-ASAP.
I let (forced) the boys play at the Chick-fil-a play area while I ate in peace, waiting for the call with the green light from insurance. And by peace I mean, the "What ifs" pulled up a seat at the table. What if the EKG reveals something serious? What if the medicine hurts my son? What if this is the wrong decision? What if my hesitations have been a mother's intuition and I should cling to those?
Once the insurance call came I gathered their leftovers including their unopened chocolate milks and headed to the car. Only once I got them settled (amidst tears of over-tiredness and thirst), I couldn't get their milks open. Like, at all. Sealed tight, not budging. Like the JFK files were hidden inside. The more I struggled, the more they grew impatient.
I thought, "This is it. This is how moms lose it in parking lots, the security camera footage making it onto the local news. They're so preoccupied with worry about some medical thing that chocolate milk becomes their undoing. They've pushed their kids too hard for one day and it's showing and the only solution to everything being okay is getting this chocolate milk open."
Overwhelmed with defeat, I got into the drivers seat asking the boys to please be patient. I tried a couple more times and nothing. The boys were practically dehydrating in front of me.
And then a car pulled up next to me. A young couple got out. I slowly rolled down the window and in desperation said, "Excuse me? This may sound REALLY odd but I can't get my kids' milk open and they're losing it and I'm about to. Would you mind trying for me?"
Please. With all my heart I wished you could have seen her face.
She, of course, was able to open them both. She might as well have given me her kidney for as thankful as I was. I jumped out of the car to give Dez's to him and as I grabbed his door handle, it moved. This might have happened again.
Not sure how, but we safely arrived at the cardiologist in one piece. The sweet nurse attached the wires to Eliot and he was so brave.
Medical questions aside, get to his heart. No matter what the test reads, if he reacts to this frustration by not wanting to be himself anymore, I've got to get to his heart. Even if he was just caught up in the moment when he said that, it's fruit of deeper things. He's my absolute treasure and being his mom has been nothing but life changing. What I view as a hiccup, he views as a dead end. Something is broken and it's our job to help him fix it. I could have just said, "Oh honey, don't say that!" which is what I wanted to say. I didn't want to have heard that, I wanted to turn on his favorite music or take him to the park to play, hoping those external things would take it away. But I've got to get to his heart. He let me in to his internal struggle and I'm taking that seriously. When he forgets who he is, or whose he is, it's our job to restore that, our job to clear up the fog.
I know there will be frustrations along the way, but I also know that "The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice." I'm thankful for the opportunities to correct wrong perspectives so early on already and don't take that responsibility lightly.
Parenting is by far the hardest thing I've ever done but I thank God every day that He allowed me and trusted me to be this kids' mom.