Even though I know him better than anyone but God, I struggle with knowing the right approach in parenting him. There's no doubt he has issues with anxiety, but he's also lazy (just calling a spade a spade). If he had his way, he'd still be in nappies and I'd still be spoon-feeding him! I still have daily battles with getting him to do tasks I know he can do - eating, putting his shoes on etc. ("I caaaaan't do it! It's too hard for me," is the common whine). Due to this I swing between being too tough and unsympathetic to just doing things for him, or not forcing him to do things because I've just had enough. There have been times where I've really done my block and regretted it afterwards. Sometimes I feel distant from him, because I just don't know how to help him. I know too well from personal experience at a young age that kids can be cruel. I don't want him to have to endure what I did. I want to help him overcome his fears NOW, so he doesn't have to face the ridicule. At times I feel like I'm reliving my own childhood through his anxiety. You'd think I'd be able to relate to how he feels, but sometimes I just can't.
So, today resulted in a meltdown when it came to putting on his school uniform and getting on the bus. I thought the bus ride would be ok since his best friend was already on the bus (his best friend is going to the Catholic school unfortunately, while Rory is at the public school), but nope. Duncan had to ride on the bus with him to calm him down. I drove into town with Flynn and Rory's big bag of stationery and met them both at the classroom. There were more tears when it was time to leave.
I spent the day sobbing...not because I'm one of those parents who can't let go, but because I felt so drained. I cancelled swimming lessons for him, since I just can't deal with the way he screams throughout every lesson. Dealing with school is enough for now.
Thankfully, he got off the bus this afternoon all smiles, and the comment from his teacher in his communication book said he'd cheered up after we left, played with other kids, did everything he was asked to do, and generally had a great day.
I'm grateful for other parents who have shared their own struggles with me. My Facebook newsfeed has been littered with photos of happy kids in uniforms and comments from parents, such as, "Jimmy has been looking forward to school for months," or "Sally had a great day, no tears, and actually told me to leave." It's a kick to the guts reading that and I've struggled with jealousy, raging at God about why, after everything I've been through, He has to give me difficult kids on top of that.
I love my kids more than all the hairs on all the bears, but parenting a sensitive, anxious child is just really hard work. There are people who'll imply that you're too harsh, and others will think you're too soft, and somehow you've got to ignore them all, and figure out what's best for your child when you don't even know what that is.
Somehow we'll get through this together, my boy.