This is a rather hard post to write (because I don't think I can take any judging), but I feel like I've committed to sharing my life with all of you and this is a part of my story. I want to talk about Ben. I know I talk about him a lot, usually in the context of funny stories about the crazy stuff that Ben does. But when you take a step back and look at all the crazy stuff and add that together with his stubborn attitude and defiance, it makes being Ben's mom quite challenging.
From the time Ben was very little he's always been a bit of a challenge. At first we wrote it off it's just a strong-willed toddler. And then we called it the terrible twos. And then we thought he was just adjusting to a new preschool. And now we could say that he's just adjusting to going to kindergarten. But when you really look at the big picture, Ben always been a tough nut to crack.
I love him with every fiber of my being and I often feel bad even thinking about the negative side to his personality, but the time has come with him starting kindergarten for us to figure out some better ways to parent him.
I feel like calling for help is a failure on my part. I'm supposed to be his mom. I'm supposed to know how to parent him. But I have to admit I just don't. I don't know if it's just his personality and we need to find new strategies and approaches, or if it's his diet, or if he's got something that he needs counseling or medication. But I do know that I need some advice. Advice from someone who knows kids better than I do.
I don't like to talk about Ben's bad behavior in anything other than a lighthearted joking manner, ("oh can you believe what Ben did today"), because I feel like talking about him is in a sense betraying him and not being the best mom I can be. Like every mom, I want to brag about my kid's accomplishments, not complain about his faults.
But we've come to the point that we don't want to send Ben into the world of public education with any kind of disadvantage. And I think in order for us to give him the best possible chance at success we need to learn about what makes him tick so that we can be better parents to him.
Primarily Ben seems to be very moody. When he's in a good mood he's great. He's smiling and happy and social and funny and giving and kind. But when he's in a bad mood he can't be reasoned with. He stubborn and defiant. He makes this growling noise with a sneer on his face and will often resort to lashing out physically with (mild) hitting or scratching.
We know these behaviors are not acceptable, we just don't know how to stop them when he's in one of these movements. These moods change from minute to minute. He seems to have a high sensitivity to things not going his way and when things don't go his way he flips out and usually ends up running away to be alone. He will hide in a corner or under the table or if we are at home he will hide in his room. He needs this time alone and if you try to talk to him he will not discuss anything.
He has a hard time in new siturations, a hard time in large groups of kids. He does things he knows are wrong, like writing on the carpet and walls, peeing his pants or his most recent; pouring a quart of motor oil on our treadmill and blaming the cat. We feel like we spend all day walking on eggshells so we don't set him off.
We've tried a lot of different parenting solutions. We've tried reward, we've tried punishment, we've tried sticker shirts, we try just about everything you can think of and Ben's always seemingly one step ahead of us. If we try to take something away he says he didn't want it anyway. If we try to reward him with something he says he doesn't care. He is super stubborn and will never admit he's wrong.
I see him when he's great and when he's happy and I just want that for him all the time. I want that for all of us all the time.
The thought of having to talk to someone professional is very intimidating, but I know I want to be the best mom I can be and I also know that I'm not an expert in child psychology. It's been a really difficult and emotional time for me to come to peace with the idea that I may need to have someone help us.
So Step 1 is changing his diet. I've read enough about dyes and high fructose corn syrup to know that it could be influencing his moods, and it's something we should be removing from our house anyway, so we're doing that.
Step 2 is to call Children's Hospital and get an appointment for an evaluation. I dread that phone call.
And then we'll go from there.
I appreciate your support through this journey. I don't think I can handle any negative judement of my parenting. I'll be honest. I have a thick skin, but not when it comes to this. I'm only sharing because I thought it might be able to help someone else feel less alone. And if anyone reading out there has ever been through something similar I would love to hear your story as well.