Thinking this post through has taken me some time. In the end, I really felt I wanted to, NO, HAD TO share my experiences with you.
Halloween in coming up and every year I dread this holiday.
My children have never just fell in that scope of normal when it comes to behavior. I would love to say that they are like every other child out there. For this mom this is far from the reality that is their childhood. My children have offered me challenges at every turn. Mostly in the way that they were going to be willing to confront the world. I do have those sweet, quiet children in my life, however, they often get overshadowed by those that demand more (Pratus is one such child). I have often felt like an outsider parent when it came to raising these children. For example: when I would go to play groups with other parents it always was a disaster. I saw how they would look at me with pity and yet with no idea how to help me. I sometimes wondered if they thought that my children’s behavior would be catchy as if it were a sickness. Then there were those that thought I was a passive parent that allowed my children to run amuck. Assuming my child was just undisciplined, was really difficult for me. Often I am overly demanding as a parent. I have been told I just need to relax and allow them to make mistakes. In my role as a parent to just let them make their mistakes had not been an option (now that I have teen I learning to do this more and more. I have found that it is actually a good thing and not something to fear as it was when they were small). I was/am organized. I think things through. I plan my trips to stores when I don’t have to take a child. I cook when I know they are self entertained, etc, etc, etc. All with the express intent to keep them safe and happy as well as not torture the outside world with my so called little hellions.
Halloween, The one day of the year where we throw the never ending teachings that, we never take candy from strangers, out the window. The one day of the year when bad guys can actually be good guys. The one day where scary is awesome, and we promote it instead of shielding our children from it. That one day of the year where we ignore bedtime organization, diets, germ practices, and so on. Have I said how I dread this holiday? I would very much love to just shut the curtains and pretend it isn’t happening. I just don’t feel that is fair or teaches the right message to my kids.
I stood my ground for years against people and what they think is best for my children. I have ignored the people who have told me that my child just needs a firm spanking, just because that is what worked for them in their time. I have put off people that said to me “well they are just going to have to learn how to act like everyone else”. SORRY NO, THEY AREN”T CATTLE. I have gone outside the box more times than I can count. All in the hopes of a cohesive life. No, not cohesive but, an amazing life. A life where they flourish and become people who can know that there isn’t only one way of doing things.
Halloween is often a time filled with excessive stimuli. Often for some children it is just too much. Pratus last year couldn’t handle the costume. At 2.5 years old, he hated being dressed in much of anything, much less as a dragon. I thought it was cute until I saw his face and how much this cuteness upset him. He literally had a meltdown over this thing being on him. After a bit of unsuccessful cohersing and trying to convey my pleasure in seeing him as a dragon, I realized he was not going to budge and quickly stripped him of the cuteness. I was really disappointed, but what was worse was how horrible his behavior was after that. He was upset with me. He kept trying to get across how that made him feel, but at 2.5 it all comes out like a demon possession. In both our eyes that Halloween was not one for the happy scrapbooks.
When I first encountered behavior from my children that seemed not like the norm, I jumped to the internet, friends, family, doctors. Really anyone who I thought could tell me what this was and how to handle it. Doctors said medication helps. My friends were clueless as most had “normal” kids. My family was just as frustrated as I was and really wished I would just keep my kids at home. Then there was the internet and its fountain of information. The internet led me from one unknown to a vast wasteland of people who like me were clueless but, looking for answers. A few sites had some good ideas, but, nothing more than hypotheses, or studies that may be on the verge of something just not there yet, or just outright bullarky! I remember wading through the mass amounts of crud and finding a few tidbits of actual useful information. It seemed that artificial colors, flavors and preservatives were for a lot of children’s catalysts to unwanted behavior.
Halloween, a time for colorful treats and CANDY, CANDY, CANDY, CANDY.
I hit rock bottom with my kids when they were very little. I figured it was me, I was not a good parent because I couldn’t make them be like other kids. I started to change their diets as a pitiful attempt to alter their unruly behavior. I had little faith that it would do anything but, I was desperate. I had no support for this back some 14 years ago. At that time it was medication or just understanding that you had a child with disabilities. It really seemed there was that fine line between a child who thought and acted differently and a child in a wheel chair with a debilitating physical/mental handicap. For years and I do mean years the diet I put them on was met with some of the most horrendous and judgmental views. I thank god that now it is trendy to feed your children “Organic” or “all natural”. Back then it was truly a fight with everyone. How could I not allow my children to have treats like a “normal” child. There was that word again (as Forest Gump would say “normal is as normal does”). I wanted to just scream at people, “fine I accept I don’t have a normal child and yes, it is my fault”or “I’m sorry, by all mean give my child the cupcake as they are so deprived and it is just cruel”.
Halloween, makes me cringe, but, this year I have seen some hope. With so many more children out there with allergies or people deciding to eat differently, trick or treating can be hard. This year they have this new thing where a house that has non-candy treats puts up a teal pumpkin (read more about it here). I think that is great, a little hard to see in the dark but, great.
Now I am in a whole new world, yet back to the same old adage “your child is not NORMAL”. Pratus thinks differently and acts accordingly. To most a child that skins his knee and then cries is acting normally in a normal situation. When my son skins his knee and has a fit over it people see it as acting abnormally to a normal situation. However, for Pratus he is acting normally to an abnormal situation. He becomes angry and aggressive. At 3 he is mad at the ground for hurting him and mad at himself for being hurt. He struggle to come to me to be comforted. For him a bandaid is just another thing that just doesn’t work. The feel of it is not comforting. So here I am, a mom that just wants to make her child’s boo boo go away. The problem is that I just don’t know how to do it.
Halloween, Oh how I would love to enjoy your simple fun in a grown up way. I would love to stand side by side with another mom watching our children run up to houses, thier little faces flush with excitement, their little costumes cute and picture worthy. I would love to see candy filling our house with sweetness. I would love to take my teens to a haunted house or even attend a party. That will not be the case for this mom. I will be sending off my teens with the child that can handle it, meaning I stay behind for the child that can’t.
So many people lose out when households have to adjust to situations. I know I am not the only person that has had to make adjustments or allotments for someone. There are just are times where it never becomes easier to accept.
Halloween, you are one holiday that will have to wait to be celebrated the way you deserve to be. Until then, oh how you cause me so much frustration. I just can’t focus the blame on the child so, you will have to take the brunt of it. Maybe next year we will have learned how to co-mingle until then….BOO! on you.