There's a certain special little boy at my house who demands nearly all of my time, attention, and energy. I often wonder why he is the middle child instead of an only child. He could certainly use a mother whose resources aren't divided like mine are, and whose every waking moment could be devoted to his welfare and comfort. But for some reason he came to me, to this family, and though I love him fiercely, we are in yet another end-of-the-end-of-the-end-of-the-rope stage that leaves me exhausted by 9:00 a.m. (which, as a matter of fact, is when I am penning this post).
In April a sweet friend approached me about the possibility that Gavin has a Sensory Integration Disorder. After completing an online screening, a couple areas on the disorder spectrum leaped out at me. I thought, "YES!!! This is my child!" It gave me hope that there were resources available to us, things that could help us navigate Gavin's world with more than reprimands, time-outs, and clean-up in the wake of his destruction. Thanks to a series of tender mercies, Gavin was evaluated by an occupational therapist within a week (the day before I left for Women's Conference).
The evaluation itself was fascinating. It was remarkable to begin seeing him as a therapist would see him. I was astonished at how long he could focus on a task like cutting with scissors, building with blocks, and threading beads. I was also surprised at the things he couldn't do, like copy a cross on a piece of paper. And, of course, there was a hefty dose of the familiar: the constant motion, the loud voice, the jumping out of his chair, the refusal to wear shoes. At the end of the evaluation, the therapist said, "Gavin is a wonderful, fascinating child! I would love the chance to work with him." She categorized him as "very high-functioning with widely scattered skills. He does NOT have ADHD." We talked about "tools and coping strategies" for managing his behavior, addressing his sensory needs, and advocating for him within the school system, which all sounded fantastic. The next step was getting insurance approval for therapy.
We have been in limbo for six weeks, but this week a letter came in the mail, explaining that occupational therapy coverage was denied. Because Gavin's issues are not the result of a congenital disorder or defect and the goals submitted do not address basic life functions like eating and sleeping, our policy specifically excludes them. I am working with my pediatrician, who is a wonderful advocate, on an appeal. The process could take months, and I've been warned that our insurance company very rarely overturns a coverage denial. I haven't completely given up hope on that, but the news is discouraging, to say the least.
Last night, at the end of a Very Long Day, I hired a babysitter so I could take some time off. Garry is out of town for a family funeral, so I left the house by myself. I intended to run some errands, to do some things that absolutely cannot be done with my children in tow, but instead I ended up at Panera, where I bought myself a salad, sat in a corner booth, and read a book for an hour. My book of choice: Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. This was my parenting how-to manual when Zachary was three. I read it twice at that stage, and again when Tyler was three. But now that I have four spirited children (with a fifth surely to follow), this book is even more wonderful. I devoured the first 40 pages while I ate, marking initials in the margins next to the paragraphs that applied to each family member (including me!). I laughed out loud. It has been a long, long time since I have felt so validated about the struggles in our family's daily existence. Perhaps we aren't alone after all! And perhaps there is hope.
After my solo dinner, I attended the adult session of stake conference. It was a nice meeting, though too long and too warm for my taste. (I laughed when I saw a man in a row ahead of me wrap his wife in his suit coat. My internal thermostat is probably 30 degrees higher than that lady's!) I felt refreshed after a few hours away from my life.
Then I got home.
At 9:15, I could hear Gavin's voice floating up the stairs. He was arguing with Tyler. I couldn't believe it. Bed time for the Littles is 7:00. I told the babysitter that the big boys had to have lights out at 8:00. I realize that bed time is not a perfect system with a babysitter in charge, but I was most seriously displeased to come home to chaos. Gavin didn't wind down for more than an hour and spent the night in my bed.
This morning (which began at 6:00 a.m.) I found a sink full of soaking wet bath mats marinating in the bathroom. Gavin did that...just because. He has put clothing in the toilet and thrown it at his brothers. He has broken his birthday trampoline, terrorized his sister, punched me, and in general been totally out of control. What's a mother to do?
I really don't have an answer to that question, except for "go to stake conference." It should be a party with Garry out of town.