Interrupted by oh, such a night after our Derby party. Probably a little too much homesickness. A little too much excitement. A little too much giddiness with betting fever and the resultant anxiety.
Poor Ray has been having a very hard time getting himself to sleep these past few weeks. He’s been needing a longer and longer time of reading, of having us stay with him until he drifts into sleep. A longer and longer time while his ADHD medications wear off. He’s been staying up until 10:30pm most nights- and I finally drag myself into my room only to fall down in my bed. Or my husband stays with him until James himself falls asleep, coming back to our bed in the middle of the night. Not exactly quality bonding husband/wife time. Not exactly quality sleep time.
Saturday night was our firm stance- “I’m sorry. You can do this. We will be here and you can come and check in with me every 45 minutes.” I taught him deep breathing. I told him he could read until he fell asleep. I told him he could have the little light on. I tried to teach him coping strategies. And I don’t know if he can cope.
He cried for 5 hours, and was hitting himself in the face at one point, sobbing “I hate my brain. I hate my brain”. He was genuinely frightened and anxious and kept “seeing robbers” but at the same time, he’s so phenomenally stubborn. And he DID have his medication patch on until 7:00pm.
Where is the line between being consistent and firm and having it overwhelm him? Where is the sweet spot where you know that what you’re doing is the right thing? I feel that with my daughter so often- she protests, I hold firm, she backs down. I feel like I’m under attack from a pile driver from my son- that his hole of need is so big that I can’t fill it up and I don’t know how to help him turn around and fill it himself. Autism makes me sad, but this… this… whatever it is, that has no real label, that could be bipolar, that could be ADHD, that is definitely anxiety, that could be giftedness on the edge, that could just be an overprotective mother- this frightens me. I constantly feel like we’re navigating an uncertain landscape, where the ground keeps shifting and swaying and any mis-step could result in disaster.
My husband and I are generally on the same page and were holding firm together that night- we were NOT going to let him or his anxiety win this round. But I was crying and James was grim and we had to make a conscious effort to talk to each other- to not let the stress and sadness drive us into our own coping place of solitude.
He fell asleep around 2:00am, keeled over with the lights on, full-blazing and “Calvin and Hobbes” in his lap. I turned off the lights, closed the door so that he could sleep in, and moved the book so it didn’t hit him when it fell. And I went back to my room and passed out. Did I “win” this round? I have no idea.
He, of course, did not sleep in. And Sunday, as I watched him play quietly in the living room, firing his “bombs” from his Battleship game that he was playing by himself, and feeling the peace of the quiet house since my husband and daughter were off to a soccer game, I knew that he did not ask for this. He craves peace and routine so badly that when things get off track, he acts out. The anxiety gets him. Add food issues and tiredness to the mix, and he’s a very unhappy little boy- which makes for a very unhappy mother.