It was a hard morning.
Typically I know within five minutes of my son being up if it's going to be a bad morning. I'll hear the extra whining, feel the extra clinginess, or see the frustration in his little body. That morning was showing all the signs of a rough day.
My son wasn't just having a hard morning, he was having a hard few months.
His behavior and meltdowns and anxiety caused his preschool to request an evaluation for special ed. We didn't hesitate. We wanted him to get help. WE wanted help.
Every morning is a gamble and is typically an indication of how the day is going to go. Some days start great and get worse and some start bad and get better. But more often than not, the mood at the beginning dictates his day.
Just because I know this and can anticipate it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.
When you have a child that is prone to meltdowns, it is hard.
When that child is UNREACHABLE in those moments, no matter how much you try, it is hard.
When that child kicks and hits and screams, it is hard.
When that child gets stuck on something and is like a broken record and you can't stop and reset, IT. IS. HARD.
I'm learning some techniques when dealing with him in these moments. But I am about as far away from perfect as one can get.
I've yelled. I've cried. I've walked away.
But I've also hugged and reassured and loved and waited and talked softly and encouraged.
And on that morning, I was trying. I was trying so. hard.
His tantrum started at home. We got through that but then it escalated on the walk to my daughter's school.
We just kept going, me talking cheerfully to my 5 year-old as I'm trying to send her off on her day in a positive way, all the while my 4 year-old son is yelling and crying and carrying on.
We reached the school and my daughter left us. She skipped off to meet her friends who were getting off the bus. She was happy. Mission 1: accomplished.
Mission 2: get the boy home.
It was not easy. He was in a rut and could not get out of it no matter what I said. A dad of one of my daughter's friends stopped to try to help. He tried talking to my son. It didn't work for him but it did something for me.
It made me feel safe.
Here we were out in the world and my son was melting down in the most public of ways. And so many people were around. But they were all parents, dropping their kids at school. And not one of them made me feel bad. I got some nods, some reassuring glances. Some "oh my god I've been there momma and I feel your pain" looks. I felt like I had support. I felt like I wasn't in this alone.
Most of all: I did not feel judged.
And that gave me the strength to continue the walk. A walk that was interrupted about every five feet so my son could cry or yell or collapse on the sidewalk.
But we made it home.
I was frustrated but ok. He was still throwing his tantrum but we were home. Everything felt ok.
And then a cop knocked on the door.
Every single positive, good, supported, loved feeling I had felt at the school vanished.
Someone had witnessed the temper tantrum and called the cops. They came to do a wellness visit on my son.
I was shocked. Ashamed. Embarrassed.
And worst of all: I doubted myself.
The cop was absolutely the best. He was kind, compassionate, understanding, helpful and reassuring. He was in my home for about five minutes.
But the effect was much longer than that.
Once he left I was angry.
I stayed in that anger for awhile.
I wrote a post in anger but left it unpublished. I needed to write it. But after I got all that rage out I was able to see the good in that day.
I can't dwell on one neighbor. For my sanity I need to think that they truly thought a child was in need of help. I think some commonsense should have played a role in their evaluation of the situation, but... I can't dwell.
Instead I'll dwell on the dad that took a moment to talk to my son.
On the parents that gave me their unspoken support as my son sat on the sidewalk yelling at me for looking at him.
On the online community that surrounded me in support and love when I "vented" about my experience.
On the countless messages and phone calls and texts from my family and friends supporting me.
On all the teachers currently helping my son find ways to deal with all his emotions.
And most of all on my mom...who is taking my son (and daughter) for a couple of days so I can get out of town with some friends and watch my husband's band play at a big festival. (Come to think of it, she probably deserves more than a thank you. Perhaps a trophy. A national holiday. I don't know. Just brainstorming.)
When you stop focusing on the bad and look at all the good, it's hard to stay in that place of anger.
Sure, there is still some anger, but there is much more gratitude. So THANK YOU. All of YOU helped more than you'll ever know.