Teacher Professor

January 24, 2012

Fighting Fog

Filed under: Bipolar,Gifted,Home Things,Medication issues,Tourette's Syndrome — Teacher Professor @ 12:14 am

This evening, holding my son- who has been quiet and subdued all evening.  

Me: What’s wrong, Ray?


Me: Anything you want to talk about?

silence- the silence gets to me.  It’s not a loaded silence.  Just a still.  

Ray: What do you want to talk about?

Me: Any words in your head?

Ray: No

Me: Any feelings in your head?

Ray: No


Me: If you were a color, what color would you be?

Ray: Gray

Me: If you were a shape, what shape would you be?

Ray: A sphere

Me: If you were weather, what kind of weather would you be?

Ray: A cloud

Me: A stormy cloud, a gray cloud, or a big puffy cloud?

Ray: A rain cloud.


Me: What does the rain cloud want to do?  Feel better?  Get some sleep?  Feel happy?

Ray: You know.


The problem is that I don’t know.  I’m never quite sure what son I’m going to have on a day-to-day basis: Do we get the angry, resistant, black mood Ray; the quiet, not-really-there Ray; the run-around and talk a mile-a-minute Ray; the anxious and wring his hands Ray, the focused scholar and look-how-smart-I-am Ray?  While all kids go through “moods”, his are intense.  Even when he’s gray.

Jess, from Diary of a Mom, talks about fighting “dragons with rubber swords”.  I feel like I’m fighting fog with pointed sticks.  We have the “stick” of medication, which nibbles around the edges of issues– creating other issues in the wake.   We have the pointed stick of therapy, in which he refuses to engage- or worse, pretends to be completely normal (a play therapist told us that it was our problem, not his when he was 4).  We have safety and structure in our house, which leads to agoraphobia.  We sortof have labels: Anxiety Disorder, mild Tourette’s, mild giftedness, not quite autism, not quite bipolar, not schizophrenia. In dark times, James and I have to remind each other- he has special needs.  And just because there’s no good label doesn’t mean that the needs aren’t there.

I’m grateful for many things: I’m grateful that he has never tried to hurt himself or anyone or anything.  I’m grateful that he has never talked about not wanting to be here.  I’m grateful that he’s smart and funny and that he can do academics well enough that everyone around him is frustrated that he’s underachieving- but not failing.  I’m grateful that he has a few good friends.  I’m grateful that I have enough background to have consistency, behavior charts, and metaphors to help him.

But I’m terrified.   I feel like I’m keeping him from falling off the edge through pure will- and he’s only 9.  I’m terrified of adolescence.  I’m terrified of his genetics.  I’m terrified of losing my child to alcoholism, to suicide, to a place where he won’t let us help him. I’m terrified to speak possibilities aloud for fear of them coming true.

And I don’t know what to do about the monsters in the fog that never quite reveal themselves enough to fight.  If you can’t see something well enough to fight, it can’t be vanquished.  It just shifts and morphs.

Into the gray.

Ray, I have no idea what to do.  But I’ll do anything to help you.


  1. Sending hugs, Claire! I often feel the same way with Ian at 9 — clearly there are things going on at times, and just as clearly, he cannot articulate them to me. Whether that’s due to borderline Asperger’s-like tendencies (the effects of which intensify when he’s upset), or just that he’s male and hence less verbal than I (as much as I hate to stereotype, I’m finding that stereotypes sometimes exist for a reason), it’s frustrating to someone who wants to talk, talk, talk things out. I’ve even had to explain in a meta way to Ian about verbal people vs. nonverbal people to help him deal with conflicts with his teacher (if only I could get that concept across to his teacher!). I do find that a strong “snuggle” still helps to center him, and counters the gray, although I don’t know what I’ll do when he gets entirely too big for my lap.

    Comment by Jennifer Morgan — January 24, 2012 @ 8:21 am | Reply

  2. Let him read this post. Let him know that no matter how grey it gets you will be a light to guide him, that he will never need to fear. As he grows up he’ll need to know that. And the best way to let him know is to tell him. Don’t worry, you’re doing awesome, Mom

    Comment by Melissa C — January 24, 2012 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  3. Forget what the play therapist said 5 years ago. Your terror is easy for me to imagine all the while I have not walked in your shoes.

    I don’t know if I’d let him read this post, but I think communicating with him by words (on paper or a computer) might be worth a try. ditto to the rest of what Melissa C said.

    Comment by Barbara — January 30, 2012 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  4. There’s a lot of gray here, but what’s black-and-white to me is what a superb advocate you are for your child (and this is coming from the mother of two on the autism spectrum and a former educator). I worry about what’s down the road with both of my kids every single day, and I totally get the weight of that worry. You are doing an amazing job with him, just don’t forget that as you sift through all of this. Sending you good thoughts!

    Comment by autismmommytherapist — January 31, 2012 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: