It’s been a stressful week, hopefully ending on a smoother note.
Something is going on with Little Angel; for the past fortnight every afternoon he has an hours-long epic meltdown – loud, crazy, frantic screaming and crying. He’s clearly in distress but I cannot figure out what it is. We are having extremely hot weather, however that’s not been a Sensory trigger of his in the past. People change, though, especially growing children. I am unable to comfort him, and lord knows I am trying, hard. Holding him, rocking him, singing to him, swinging. He’s not hungry; he’s not thirsty; he doesn’t appear to be hurt. I put him in his crib in his darkened room with his noise machine and ceiling fan both on, but he continues to scream. I have no doubt he and I are really ready to be done with this. He is seven years-old and this is like having a colicky baby. I am physically and psychically spent. I want to weep from sadness and exhaustion.
I am so sad about what he must be feeling and unable to express.
I recently heard a TED talk about the developing child’s brain and became infuriated with what I was hearing; I wanted to rip the radio out of my car. Of course the researcher, Alison Gopnik of UCBerkeley, was talking about a typically developing child’s brain but fuuuuuck all I could hear was what Little Angel ISN’T. And I was pissed, why wasn’t this “expert” also acknowledging the atypical child, whose brains face huge, insurmountable challenges???
I know why – because it’s important to so few of us as to be nonexistent. We are the anomaly, not the norm. But it’s important TO ME. It is tantamount TO US. This is primarily what I can see right now: my Little Angel blinders are so thick and long. The researcher made a snide, throwaway comment that for her (typical) twenty-three year-old son she is still “popping those worms into his mouth,” implying she is still actively developing his brain and mothering him.
Shut the fuck up, Alison Gopnik. What do you really know about forever popping worms into your growing infant’s mouth? Come spend some time chez nous with Little Angel, carrying him up and down the stairs, hand-feeding him, divining his every need and then see how humorous it is to make fun of your able adult child, myopic bitch.
Don’t bother telling me I’m the myopic bitch because I don’t want to hear it and I don’t care.
The H.J. is t-h-i-s close to no longer having the pleasure of my company. In truth, he and I have some remarkable lifestyle differences which occasionally make me wonder if we should have chosen to be together long-term. Now that I’ve written that out I realize that’s a canard for in the truly important ways we are du même avis, but in one huge and important (to me) way, we are vitally different. I don’t know how much longer I can live his way, for his way has steamrolled me and my needs.
I am an organized neatnik. He is my polar opposite. We have a three-car garage and it is inaccessible due to his shit being strewn about.
Five years ago I took the then-wee children on a dinosaur digging expedition, leaving him to sort out the garage. The point of this trip was crystal clear: he and I were on the same page as to what the children and I would be returning. Instead, he spent the week lying on the sofa with our dog watching the Beijing Olympics. The dig was a hard trip, strenuous and a lot of work (not the dig itself but the managing two small children, especially Little Angel, of course). After the long drive home I was so excited to open the garage door only to see … nothing had changed. Not a thing. We wearily fell into the house, and in addition to his dog-cuddling and velo viewing he’d clearly also been doing some serious frying because the kitchen was covered with grease. Perhaps his favorite food is korokke, a Japanese deep-fried potato croquette; he’d made it in abundance that way, and not cleaned up once. The cooktop, the backsplash, the cabinets, all covered with grease: thinking about it now makes me want to vomit concomitant to rip his head off with my bare hands. Food was out on the counters and the sink was filled with disgusting dishes. Welcome home, beloved family!
Nothing has changed.
Thursday a dead tree was cut down and the beautiful, big hydrangeas underneath are now exposed to full sun. They are rather unhappy, getting burnt. I could not even retrieve an umbrella from the garage (to shade the hydrangeas) because he has left so much stuff on the floor the door to the garage cannot be fully opened.
I’ve had it and it makes me hate him and deny all the good and wonderful things about him, and there are many. I mean, I am not stupid and I would not deign to be with a man who was not worthy of me. Lions don’t mate with mice, after all! (courtesy of Francoise Gilot Salk) But damn, I am now at the point where it is no longer want but serious, vital need: I need him to clean out and up the garage or he’ll have to leave and I’ll set fire to the garage and all his stuff.
I told him this and he laughed. I believe it was uncomfortable laughter, or at least I hope it was. I cogently explained that this is it, and he got huffy with me. Sometimes love isn’t enough. I need respect.
I need a break!
A few summers ago we went to a mountain resort: the first day there the H.J. and I agreed that we could each have our own afternoon, indulging in whatever we wanted. Little Angel can never be left untended, even for us to go to the bathroom. I said I had been fantasizing about swimming in the warm therapeutic pool and reading under the shade. Somehow during that trip I wasn’t allowed to get my afternoon, but he got his right away: he went on a monster mountain bike ride that first and second day. I stood my ground and said “I want to go swimming” but he always found a way to leave the children with me, so that’s what I did: swam with the boys. It in no way, shape or form resembled my quiet adult-only fantasy.
The day after we returned home I booked a trip for myself for a week to the Turks + Caicos. I’d never been but the white beaches and turquoise water looked inviting, and let’s face it, I was giving the H.J. a big middle finger. I told him “because you refused to honor my one afternoon I’m taking a whole week, you asshole.” He wondered what he’d do with the children, to which I responded “not my problem.” Of course before I left I had everything micromanaged for the children because while it ostensibly helped him out all I cared about was that my children were cared for, and I wasn’t going to leave it to him to fuck up.
That’s unfair, of course, as he adores our children and wouldn’t deliberately ignore them, but is minimally (if at all) involved in their educations / therapies / medical visits / extracurriculars, so he doesn’t know their schedules, when to be and where to be and why to be. He is infinitely more involved now than he was then, and I’ve no doubt that trip was the beginning of a turning point for him.
Turns out I’m not a lazy beach gal, and I’m definitely not a T+C lover. What a bore! In the past when I’ve stayed or lived on the beach I was never one for spending days upon days out there: too boring. I could do one afternoon, but then I need to do something, preferably cultural. But I’m glad I did it: I’m glad I took a stand and took my trip. He still, a few years later, doesn’t understand that it would be better for him (and our family) to allow me my one afternoon (or whatever) instead of me leaving the country for a week.
I went out Thursday evening, day I told him “ça suffit, man,” and when I returned he’d made a teensy bit of headway in the garage, but he’d made it. He’d done something. As I’ve hired Stacey the cleaning lady to help me, I extended the same offer to him: what can we do to make it easier for you to get through this project? We’ll see.
I cannot hold my breath or even cross my fingers for he has proven over and over that he does not believe in following through. I’m going to follow through, though. If he doesn’t finish cleaning out the garage he’ll have to leave. I hope he makes the right choice.
This morning he took Little Angel to his SI-OT via warm water so I can get some things done around the house. It’s a start.