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Being That Kid's Mom

Every group has that kid. The one who just doesn’t fit. The one who doesn’t act the way the other children do. Maybe he’s a little weird. Maybe her ideas don’t quite fit in. Maybe he has some behavior problems....or maybe it's that kid. The one who is absolutely impossible. The one who can either be absolutely wonderful, or so difficult to deal with that no one wants to take him with them.

Pouting kid?
Pouting kid?
Emily L. Goodman

And you’re his mom.

You love him to pieces…but you can’t help but understand the reasons why no one ever issues an invitation for him to go anywhere. The truth is, you dread the moments when that invitation does come, because you never know how he’s going to react. He could be a perfect angel all day, exuding gratitude and going out of his way to show just how much he appreciates the treat.

Or he could be a devil child.

He could whine, and show his bad attitude, and outright refuse to obey. He could end up needing you to come get him after an angry phone call from yet another parent that you know will never volunteer to take him again. He could end up ruining the day for everyone.

You never know which kid you’re going to send out.

How do you cope?

You invite his friends places when you can…but the truth is, he doesn’t have a lot of friends. You’re afraid to get him involved in extracurricular activities…and even if you’re willing, he might not be permitted to remain a part of them. He’s the kid who got kicked out of Scouts, can’t play on a sports team, and is only welcome at church because your children’s minister is the most understanding person in the universe.

You try to make opportunities for him to go out…but even when he does, sometimes, he misses out on the entire point of the experience.

You try to talk to other moms about what they’re getting into if they do agree to take him somewhere…and a lot of the time, that ends up scaring them off before they even attempt it.

Yep…you’re that kid’s mom.

The kid no one wants.

The kid teachers cringe when they see on their class roll sheets at the beginning of a new semester.

The kid who is awesome, and amazing, and special…on a good day.

And there aren’t enough good days.

How do you cope with being his mom?

You look at the good. Over, and over, and over again, you look at the good. You look at the moments when he is absolutely wonderful with his siblings. You look at the times when he does spectacularly well on that new school assignment. You cheer him on when he does take those tentative steps toward making a friend.

You understand that a diagnosis does not make a child, but you do your dead level best to understand everything that that diagnosis means, so that you’re not caught off guard when a new “symptom” presents itself, or your child slides backwards a few steps instead of improving steadily, the way you were hoping. You learn everything that you can about the diagnosis, and you breathe a quiet sigh of relief when you find a symptom or two that your child doesn’t show—because at least he’s not that bad.

You pray. Daily. Sometimes more than daily.

You develop immense flexibility. You learn when to spot a bad day coming—when it’s time to hunker down in your home, pull the curtains, lock the doors, and hope that the neighbors don’t hear too many strange noises coming from your home when the inevitable explosion occurs. You learn how to negotiate—often on the fly, and often concerning things that you never thought would be points of negotiation. (You want to wear the shirt that’s too short? Fine. Just make sure you keep your jacket on over it. You refuse to eat the food that you ate just fine three days ago? Fine, but there will not be dessert unless you eat a vegetable. You absolutely will not go participate in that activity with your siblings? It is acceptable for you to sit on the sidelines, but it is not acceptable for you to ruin this experience for them.) You learn when it’s time to try something new, because the tried and true methods that have worked for weeks or months aren’t working anymore.

You celebrate small achievements: a day without an explosion. A week without having to physically restrain your child to prevent him from hurting himself or someone else. A temper tantrum in which he didn’t get physical with anyone. A peaceful event that would normally have been a serious problem. A conversation with someone his own age, on their level instead of his. You celebrate these small victories with every bit as much fervor as someone else would celebrate their child making the varsity team, or making straight A’s in every subject, or bringing home a new girlfriend.

And you learn to see the beauty in these things…because you love this difficult, impossible child. You support him. And you know that this, too, shall pass…eventually, he will grow up…and some day, you will look back on these days and laugh.