I just got back from a mini-vacation with the family. The 4 of us spent every waking moment together for five full days. My son needs Ritalin. Or else I need Prozac. Or both. Maybe both.
I love him. I love his creativity. I love his questions. I love his energy. I truly adore him. But I cannot handle him. I cannot make him comply. I cannot make him focus. I cannot calm him down. I cannot make his body hold still. And I am at a loss.
He loses everything. We talk about organization. We set up systems. We hung hooks outside his bedroom so there’d be a place for his school bag, his jacket, and his hat. Now there’s a place for these things. But these things are not in their place. He cries. He doesn’t want to lose his hat. He knows it disappoints us. We talk about valuing his belongings. He cries. He gets so angry at himself. I feel so bad I want to cuddle him up but I don’t and I think, ‘Next time. Next time he’ll remember not to leave his hat on the bus.” Only, next time happens the very next day. And he loses his hat again.
He bounces. He talks. He interrupts. He has no impulse control.
Last night Casey was riding around the living room on his toddler scooter. I saw Riley get the idea to stick his foot out. I literally saw the idea twinkle in his eye. Before I could even say, “Do not trip your brother” Riley stuck his foot out. Casey ran into his foot and crashed to the floor. Riley was visibly upset. He leaned over and picked up Casey and hugged him. “I’m sorry Casey. I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.” I told Riley that I was very angry because it wasn’t an accident. He started crying. “I didn’t mean for him to get hurt,” He said again. “Then why did you trip him?” I asked. “Because I thought it.” he replied.
And it scares the hell out of me. What other things will he think of throughout his life?
I feel really vulnerable putting this in writing. I guess this is partly because I’ve taken on these challenges with him as being possible flaws in my parenting. And I don’t want advice. I don’t want anybody writing and saying what you think he needs. That I’m not consistent enough. Or that he just needs more sleep. Or that I ought to try giving him less sugar. Or more caffeine. Or less caffeine. Or a good hard spanking.
And I feel even more vulnerable admitting that parenting isn’t bringing me joy right now. That nothing is really bringing me joy even when joy is due. I’m tired. I’m tired of managing details. I’m tired of being a partner of a Ph.D student. I’m tired of the pressure of work, the details of managing a home, struggling to make ends meet and feeling guilt that the boys can’t be in all the extra things they want to because of time. And money. And because it’s just one more thing to manage. I don’t even know that I want to be a stay at home mom. But I know I don’t want to work right now. Or maybe I can say I don’t want to work because that’s the one thing that just isn’t an option at all. Not working. Its just not possible. My job doesn’t feed me the way I thought it would.
After Casey was born I went back to work when he was 6 weeks old. I went back to work full-time like many people do. And I felt exhausted and drained and chalked it up to post partum. It didn’t go away. I thought maybe my job was bringing me down. I’ve changed jobs. It’s not parenting. It’s not post partum. It’s not my job. It’s not winter. Maybe it’s just me.
This weekend after dinner while we were still at the dinner table with Riley’s grandparents and Riley started talking about how he needed a box and rubber bands and how we was going to make a guitar out of it. And of course I started in on “no.” We’re eating dinner. It’s not the right time. Just play legos. We don’t have those things. He turned to his grandma and said that his “Momma Ruth says no to anything that makes her have to get up. She’s that lazy.” His Grandpa got up, went to the basement and returned with a frying pan with rubber bands on it. It looked more like a banjo but Riley was happy enough.
So which is it? Ritalin? Or Prozac? Or both? Maybe its both. (Totally a rhetorical question by the way.)