4/15/2018

Normal is Overrated

From the time eldest boy was three until just after turning five, he was a handful. Just what I classify "typical boy", although we had people suggesting we needed to label and medicate him because he didn't know how to sit still for an hour and color. He's ten. He still doesn't prefer that. Because boy. But at five (ish), he leveled off and things started to get a lot better. He could sit still and listen. He was gentler with his hands. He wasn't always wanting to roll around on the floor and wrestle. I started to see glimpses of a future that didn't involve cringing when I picked him up at Sunday school because of the litany of complaints.

And so, with the younger boy, I was able to take deep breaths and remind myself, "This too shall pass. He's not five yet." Except then he was five. And then five and a half. And now six, coming up on six and a half.

And if anything, it's worse.

Back when I knew about parenting (read: before I had kids), I can remember looking at moms and dads with kids (very often little boys) who were seemingly out of control and rolling my eyes and thinking to myself, "Why don't they do something about that?"

The first thing I'd do if I had a time machine at my disposal is give past me a kick in the pants.

Youngest boy has an official diagnosis of a sensory processing disorder. And, if you're like past me (you know, the one who needs a swift kick in the rear?) you're rolling your eyes and muttering about how they'll put a label on everyone these days. Believe me. I was there with you for a long time, even with my kid. I was holding out for five or five and a half because he's a boy and boys are not girls. (Yes, yes, I know that's an unpopular sentiment these days. Add it to the charges that will be leveled when I'm up against the wall.)

Sensory Processing Disorder. It even sounds made up. But let me be the first to assure you, from a former skeptic turned believer, it's a real thing. And it's miserable.

I'm not sure it's miserable for my boy. He's just doing his thing and relatively oblivious about it. Mostly, that's good. Because he has the sweetest, gentlest heart. He's the one who will crawl in my lap, take my face in his hands, and say, "Mommy? I love love love you so much." with no provocation. Just because. He's also the one who's always moving and spinning and looking for things to pick up and carry around from one pace to the other.

At home it's not really a big deal. He can seek those sensory experiences all he wants. But at church? In a class of 35 other kids his age? It's disruptive. And so we've had it suggested that maybe he should sit with us in the service. And we've pulled him from Awana for the same reason.

I get it. Mostly.

Except I don't, really, because it's the church. These are supposed to be the people who live out Jesus. Kicking kids out of a classroom because they're a challenge isn't really what I think Jesus would do. But the only alternative they could come up with was for hubby or myself to sit in his class with him the whole time because--and this killed me--then we'd see that he's sneaky and behaves this way only when he doesn't want to do what's being asked of him.

Sigh.

There's a really REALLY big difference between belligerence and SPD. Which isn't to say younger boy isn't stubborn. He could teach stubborn to a mule, absolutely. But his behavior isn't caused by willful defiance -- if it was, the intense discipline that has been going on here at home for the last three years would've made a dent. You can look him in the eyes, remind him of the right behavior, get his whole hearted agreement to that behavior and the consequences of not doing what he agreed to and within five minutes, he'll be doing it, simply because he's physically unable to stop himself.

He's in OT. We're doing stuff at home. They tell me that this won't be forever and he'll learn coping skills and how to regulate. But in the meantime I do a lot of crying for this little boy I adore who gets rejected by his peers, his brother's peers, and the adults at church because of something out of his control.

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