This is a picture of a pumpkin plant that was growing INSIDE of a pumpkin we carved many years ago. At the time, it seemed funny to me that this little sprig of life was fighting its way out of its mother plant. It seemed like such a pointless fight; how in the world was it going to break out of the mother’s tough exterior? But it didn’t need to, did it? An animal (us) came along and freed it from its prison. The mother plant was mutilated for human pleasure (carving the pumpkin) and it was freed from its dark enclosure. Sadly, it ended up in the trash since I had nowhere to plant it. I’m sure it died quickly thereafter.
When my daughter was younger, she used to be a very violent and angry child. I had one teacher tell me; “have you tried spanking her?” After I had shown her a video of my daughter’s behavior at home. She didn’t believe me because my daughter was “perfect” at school. I took my daughter (5 at the time) to a psychologist and she said; “this child has severe anger and control issues.” Yeah, not sh*t Sherlock. I had originally taken her in because I was tired of her hitting me. I was tired of her finding the broom and beating me over the head with it. I was scared of my daughter, and had been since she turned a year and a half old. Anyone who meets her now (she’s 7) has absolutely no idea about her past; it isn’t something I discuss with many people. She’s much better now and has been since her brother was born. She took on a maternal instinct and looks after him very well. She’s never hit him out of anger or frustration.
As my daughter was growing up, I kept saying; “I will NEVER have another child. I can’t take a chance on it being worse than HER!” But after a few years, we decided to give it a try, and hope that the new baby would grow up to be as kind as we had dreamed she was going to be. It seems a very cruel trick that my now 2 year and 4 month old son not only has Autism, but is nonverbal and turning violent. When you have a violent child, people immediately point the finger at your parenting and assume you “beat” your children. I have never even spanked my daughter, and yet she was the most violent and angry individual I had ever met. Now I have a son that is becoming more violent than her (again, I have never laid a hand on him). People will not lay blame on me for his behavior because it is naturally assumed that he is this way because he has Autism. It’s a horrible misconception that people always have when they see him so “well behaved” in public. But it’s not without grounds, and for this, I am deeply troubled.
There will never be another child. Even if there was another child, my son’s anger would NOT be quenched by its birth. There is no cure for my son’s anger, hitting, kicking, tantruming, and meltdowns. There is no magical therapy like anger management to help him express himself. Of course there is ABA, and he’s already in that. But that is the extent of the “therapy.” Is it a matter of him not being able to express himself, due to his lack of verbal abilities? I have no idea, and frankly, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter if it would be better if he could talk; because the hard truth is…he can’t. He might be able to someday, and it’s something we work toward every single day. But for right now, it doesn’t matter. We provide doors for him to slam, toys to play, other sensory activities to help him. He has special non-itch clothes, the lights are down, the smells are neutralized, and still, he is violent.
I had hoped to not have another violent child, and I produced an even more violent child. It hurts in ways that I can’t describe. It hurts physically (I have a dislocated jaw and anything to the face is painful enough to make you wish you could pass out). Even near-hits are horrible because you clench up, causing mass pain in the jaw and head. I fear the touch of my second child, just as I did my first. Truthfully, I don’t hug or cuddle with my daughter as much as I should, because I still feel wary of any potential harm to my body. I can’t be close to my son because he doesn’t like human affection very often and now because he is violent. It feels like nothing is allowing me the embrace of my baby. My son’s natural response is not to look for affection. We are trying to teach him that affection is good, and he is making improvements. But how hard can I work at getting him to hug, when I fear him?
The ABA therapist says not to take his outbursts personally. I can’t help but think; “ok, well when it happens to YOUR child, go ahead and tell me again.” But it’s more than that. Why don’t you tell me that when you had a baby that at the age of 18 months, started hitting you so hard that you became red. Why don’t you try living in fear of your child year after year with no reprieve from their wrath and vengeance? Why don’t you try having another child, only to find out it’s going to be worse because THIS time; no manner of parenting is going to help? And there is no reprieve such as daycare or school because your child requires “special needs.”
Is this my breaking point? Yeah, it really is. But it doesn’t matter. Because no matter how broken, angry, depressed, stomped down, or betrayed that I feel…I have a job to do. I have two children that need me. One will need me until adulthood, and then maybe more after that (depending on the economy). But the other one is so uncertain. I may be doing this for the rest of my life. There is no reprieve like going home from work. There are no weekends off. I had always shunned mothers who left their children and husbands, but now I understand. I understand the feeling of absolute despair and fear that you will feel this way for the rest of your life. Sadly, I am too hard headed to leave. I am too stubborn to give up. Where does that leave me? I have no idea. But if you are reading this now, and you have ever felt the same way; know that you aren’t alone. I’m not afraid to type the words that others may shun me for saying. I’m not afraid to tell the truth about how this job is damn hard and sometimes doesn’t feel worth it. I’m not afraid to share my despair, as long as I know I helped another parent who may be feeling something similar, that’s all that matters.