Since the accident 8.5 weeks ago, Riley has been acting out, having potty accidents, and just flat out not listening. He also has days where he's just sad, or mad, and he doesn't know why. He's also had several occassions where he woke up in the middle of the night crying. He doesn't want to go to bed, although the last week he has been better about bedtime.
I know what you're thinking: He's 4 (almost -- in less than 2 weeks). It's just a phase, he'll get past this. No, it's more than that. I know typical 4 year old behavior, I taught preschool classes for many years. This is typical 4 y/o behavior, magnified. Plus a whole lot more.
Last week I called our family doctor, since things have been getting progressively worse, not better like I had hoped it would. She told me that he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Those words never even crossed my mind. I knew a lot of this was normal behavior, but more of it was because of the changes that have occurred since our accident.
It all makes sense. It's been hard, on all of us. Consistancy has been hard with 3 adults, who have 3 different parenting styles. My mom has been living here since the accident, since I'm unable to care for the kids while Ryan is at work. With his increasing temper tantrums and acting out, it's very frustrating. It's hard to find the perfect balance between the comfort he craves and the discipline he needs.
After talking with his doctor, we are all changing the way we talk to him, and trying our best to be on the same page. We need to stay firm, while letting him know we understand why he is so frustrated sometimes. He doesn't know how to process his feelings. He gets mad, then he gets sad...and he doesn't know why.
We also will continue to reassure him I am going to be fine, and that I'm not going anywhere. One day for me to be away from him feels like forever. Ryan and I drove off for a date, and I didn't return home for 2 weeks. He was scared and unsure of what was happening. After coming home, I had 2 more brief hospital stays (surgeries). The last one (2 weeks ago) really upset him. He did not want me to leave again. I am the one who is always here, day and night. He's used to Ryan going to work all day, then coming home. But he's not used to me being gone for more than a few hours.
And I'm hurt, and can't care for him the way I usually do. I can't get down and play with him. I get tired easily. The pain meds make me nauseous, so he's seen me at my worst. I hurt, and he has to be gentle. My mom has been here to help with those things, but it's been very different for him. He's used to Mimi being Mimi who spoils him, not the primary caregiver who has to discipline him. It's very confusing for him.
If in the next week things do not improve, we will go back to the doctor and talk about either play therapy, or a play group, to help him learn how to process his emotions. She said it would probably only take a few weeks, but it would be well worth it for him.
It is hard to think about the fact that we can't "deal with" our son's behavior. We're his parents, I'm his Mommy. We should know exactly what to do. I know he's having a hard time with things, but I also know we can't baby him and let him get away with eveything because of that. That will only make things worse. It also doesn't help that when I am in pain or very uncomfortable and tired, because my patience runs very thin at those times. It's hard to stay calm when all I want to do is yell because I'm in pain. So when he is refusing to listen or do what I've asked him to do, it is extremely frustrating. There are times that I feel like the worst mom in the world because I just yelled at my kid for something as little as not picking up his toys. This is where we need to find that balance of comfort and discipline, but it's hard.
Hearing the doctor say that he has PTSD was hard to process. He's so young to be going through that. I almost feel guilty, but then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. It is so hard to know that this is something I can't just kiss and make better. I wish I could.
I know things will get better, and that I am not a failure as a mom. But right now it is hard, on top of everything else we are dealing with now. So I ask for your prayers, especially for Riley. Please pray that he is able to process his emotions in a positive way. Please pray that we have the wisdom to parent him in the way that he needs.
|Riley enjoying Legoland Discovery Center, just a couple days before my last surgery.|