Focus on the small victories? What does that mean? It means that you need to focus on the little things rather than the big ones. For parents of a child with mental illness, it is often hard to see the little things; to notice the small wins that kids have. Especially children who act out or have frequent behavioral problems. Bob recently had an issue at school and I was reminded of something that happened with my father. I chose to focus on small victories. And this focus helped Bob.
I don't know about your neck of the woods, but mine is literally blossoming with signs of Spring. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming--we even dug the lawn mower out of hiding yesterday. With the return of Daylight Savings Time and April 1 less than a week away, I'm holding my breath and crossing my fingers, wondering--Will Bob's psychiatric symptoms get worse in the next few months, or do we have them well enough under control?
December is, and always has been, a difficult month for Bob. It's tough for him to wake up in the morning, and hard for him to get to sleep at night. He "thinks too much" (in his words), and often finds himself getting sad and teary-eyed. And his schoolwork? Don't even ask. I've known Bob's mood takes a downturn in late Fall for a few years now. This year, it appearshe recognizes this aspect of his bipolar disorder diagnosis, as well.
I was almost looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. We had a pretty uneventful holiday planned--Bob would be at his father's house until Saturday evening, and my large, loud extended family had opted for a smaller gathering on Saturday (just my parents, siblings, and assorted nieces). Until Bob caught wind of this plan, and asked to come home early so he could go to his grandparents' house with us. And then I discovered it was not to be an intimate gathering (or as "intimate" as it gets with four siblings, their spouses, and 7 grandchildren); it would be the whole family--aunts, uncles, ad nauseum--totalling 28 people.
When your child has a psychiatric illness, your plate fills rather quickly--psychiatrist appointments, therapist appointments, IEP meetings, trips to the pharmacy and the never-ending juggling of prescription medications. But there are other things crowding the china--things like medication side effects--we may have no idea how to handle, even if we feel we've "mastered" all there is to know about our child's diagnosis. Children with mental illness experience myriad side effects that create even more problems for them and their parents; one in particular has hit us the hardest. In our house, the most persistent medication side effect is bedwetting. And it's driving us all crazy.
(continued from Part 1) I spent Tuesday afternoon with a delightful group of first-graders, at a school more like Bob's--middle-class, mostly native English-speakers. This class had only one Bob--a little girl I'll call "Bonnie"--but that wasn't the only contrast from Tuesday.
Sometimes, my frustration at Bob gets the better of me, and I hit him. Or pull his hair, or pinch him, or kick him, or any of a number of physically abusive gestures. Fortunately, he's usually asleep during these attacks--and so am I--because it only happens in my dreams.
I don't trust celebrity parents when it comes to parenting advice. Color me cynical, but I just don't think Angelina Jolie is any authority on potty-training anymore than Madonna would be on talking to your child about sex. But you know what they say about desperate times calling for desperate measures.
Comorbidity. Interesting word, isn't it? If you were new to the English language and without your dictionary, you might guess it to mean something like "dying together." And you wouldn't be altogether inaccurate.
A few weeks ago, I put the kibbosh on Bob's playing with the gang of boys in our neighborhood. My decision came after he made the unfortunate choice to ride his bike with them to the middle school (several blocks away and out of my range of observation). It was, I believe, a necessity--the boys are mostly older than he is and, I fear, use him more for entertainment than anything--but I still hated to do it.