if you need the back story, go here.
so I got a call from a friend of mine this week. she invited my kid to go to an overnight family camp with herself and a couple of her kids. this is a camp that I know and love. he said yes immediately. they were leaving friday night. home sunday. thursday night was melt down central. full on panic. he stayed up too late the night before and had just worked his butt off at a two hour hockey practice. the makings of a perfect storm.
"mom, I just want you to come too", "don't make me go", and "I just feel so anxious". that was the first time he really identified his feelings. the first time he put words to how he feels. when you can read between the yelling, fighting, and icky tantrum, that is at the root of his issues. I feel so anxious.
I had no idea in that moment if I made the right choice or the wrong choice, but I made a choice. I told him that he had to go. he had said yes to his friends. he couldn't go back on his word. he was not happy with me. he threw and broke the screen on his iPad. his feelings are real. I pushed them into a place of great discontent. ten minutes later, his friend called. they talked. he was all smiles again. reassured.
over the last few months, we've been working with the mental health clinic to get on the same page as parents. just john and I go. we try different strategies. we want him to learn some self-regulation. to gain control of this. we want him in his own bed. we want him sleeping at a decent time. we've compromised. we've tried a ton of things. some work, some don't. essential oils. relaxation techniques. a bedtime routine. and we've seen a lot of progress. he sleeps in a little cot next to our bed. 1030 is now a late night. he told me he loved me. once. he cuddles. he smiles. and we've had one bed time tantrum in the last six weeks.
so friday after school he walked home with his friend. they were planning to come by our house to pick up his stuff and say good bye. he walks in the house and runs upstairs, asking me to come with him because he wants to talk to me. we get upstairs and he bursts into tears. no tantrum. all tears. all panic on his face. "mom, I need you to come with me. I don't think I can do this. I feel so anxious." so much raw honesty in his words. usually it's about anger. with him. friday it was real. real pain for my little boy. I held him. wiped his tears. told him I believed in him. told him that I loved him, had packed his blankets and special pillow and a ton of valentine's candy. told him that he could call me at any time and that I would come and get him. then I carried him downstairs. and he left.
one phone call on friday night. he wanted to be picked up in the morning. I asked him to call me in the morning. I prayed with him. phone call in the morning. "don't come. I'm having fun."
I don't know if I'm doing this right. I don't know if I'm honouring my kid and his mental health. I don't have a clue what I'm doing. something in my gut told me to push him on this weekend. in return, I got his iPad fixed. I want him to become a person who is in control. who has choices. who feels empowered. this thing. this anxiety. it's not going away. it's his gig. for the next couple of years I have to help him manage. and there's an ebb and flow to that management. I'm going to mess up. but in that, we all get to learn. if the stigma around mental illness needs to stop, then it needs to stop with me. my family. my kid.