A cucumber lies on a couch and an asparagus takes notes. “If my lips ever left my mouth said adios and headed south, that’d be to bad, I’d be so sad.” And we all giggle, lips can’t leave!
And then you walk your 5 year old into an office that has a couch and blue vibrating hand chair. You see the woman with the notepad and glasses slide her chair out from the desk and sit across from the boy. The boy in the chair can’t look her in the eye and doesn’t seem to be able to speak. All the sudden this scene isn’t funny anymore.
While the boy sits your mama bear instinct is kicking in. You want to coax him into talking using your well perfected tricks and tips. You want to defend him to the woman with the notepad. “He’s really smart and a great reader.” You hear yourself say. She glances at you and then looks at the boy “Would you like to come look at my bookshelf.” He sits, looking at nothing in particular but doesn’t respond or move. Your mom chest gets tighter, you know that it isn’t your turn to speak and it is all you can do to breath calmly. The alternative is bursting into tears or overstepping.
I will never forget the day this happened. After our first session with this new therapist with a very specific skill set who was supposed to help our son, I felt hopeless. We went home that night and when my son went to bed I cried. A lot. Whose 5 year old needs to see a therapist that costs more per hour than an attorney? Hopeless. I felt hopeless.
When I said I believed in science and psychology, I meant it. But do you know how many branches of science and psychology exist when it comes to neurology and the difficult mind??? Psychiatrist or Counselor? Occupational Therapist or Social Skills Therapy? Nutritionist, Pediatrician or Specialist? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We won’t even talk about Speech Therapy and Physical Therapy and Holistic Sensory Therapy and on and on and on…
When you see your young child in that office with that therapist for the first time two things happen. First, you remember that your child isn’t “normal” and needs some direction to cope with the Difficult Mind he lives in. Second, you remember you would do anything to help that child in that chair feel loved and wanted and worth something.
Fast forward 2.5 years. That same boy says to his friends he can’t play after school because he has to go see Mr. Therapist. “Who is that?” they ask, “What do you do there?” And that boy, confidently without missing a beat says, “We play games, draw pictures and talk about my feelings.” As if every child does this.
The thought crosses my mind that this is entirely “normal” for him. The first time he ever saw a therapist was when he was two and a half years old. Since then he’s had several different kinds of therapy with a handful of people.
Part of me is sad that this is his life but part of me remembers his confident voice and lets it pass.
We head to therapy that evening. Mr. Therapist comes out and our son doesn’t even acknowledge him. When he opens the door to the office he walks through, not saying a word. I sit and wait, 55 minutes, quiet and alone.
Our son and Mr. Therapist come out of the office. They are both beaming from ear to ear, something happened.
Every day before school for the last month has been a nightmare. Our son doesn’t want to go and absolutely nothing can convince him he will like school when he gets there, even though he always does. On more than one day I’ve physically buckled him into the car pool van while he is screaming or crying. Several times I’ve shut the door behind him and just cried.
This is why they are beaming, they have a solution.
Could I wake him up at 7:00am instead of 7:05am? He will come out at 7:05am but he has decided he needs a few minutes to wake up. Yes, I think I can do that. These two high five, wave goodbye and we are on our way.
A month. I’ve been fighting this battle for a month. 20 some mornings of tears and throwing things and hateful words and skipping breakfast. A month.
My sons Difficult Mind needs an outlet sometimes. It needs some guidance that isn’t me sometimes. It requires a totally unattached person to help him get far enough away from his problems to get close enough to fix them.
This need for someone else does not make me feel like less of a person or a bad mother. Don’t we all need each other? Don’t we all have that friend that calls us out of the dark into the light? That family member that speaks truth so we can move on to the next thing? That spouse that shows us our faults but does so gently enough that we can be made whole again?
We were all made for each other. Maybe you are the mom, friend, spouse that carries that person in your life from one place to another, maybe you need that person right now.
Regardless of where you are on the spectrum of giving or need, you weren’t made to do it alone. Let someone in.
My chest is no longer tight when I think about therapy. I don’t cry about therapy nearly as often. Each time I walk through those doors and read those reports and pay those bills, I am thankful. Thankful that someone said yes to being this person for my son when I could not.
“Hope and sorrow in it all there’s rescue and there’s not.”
There’s Rescue: Therapy is working for us right now. We are making progress. In the last 14 days we’ve had 2 whole days without violence, extreme disobedience or hurtful words. This is progress of the miraculous kind.
There’s Not: As our son grows and develops and changes we may have to explore other avenues of help. This kind of therapy may stop working all together. Regularly reexamining the cycle of help is exhausting.
Today I am thankful for compassionate, caring and educated doctors and therapists. To Michaja, Jennifer, Nick, Lawrence and Joe, we wouldn’t be where we are without you.