Two More Words about My Son: It’s Time
It was 6 o’clock. Ben sat at the kitchen table in his pajamas. As punishment for throwing rocks and biting another kid, he had spread mulch outside and then received an early bath. I glanced at my husband and said, “I am going for a run. You got the phone? Dr. Myers should call on my cell phone.” My almost bald, still-handsome, barrel-chested man nodded at me and asked, “You told her it’s time? Are you okay?” I shook my head and leaned in for a hug and he held me tight.
I pulled on my white Brooks running shoes with the green stripes and thought about running and about what one of my friends had just said to me. She had said, “I love you,” and I couldn’t respond. I felt like I couldn’t say “I love you” back because I was not worthy of loving anyone. I was a failure as a mom. When I didn’t respond, she added, “I know you can’t digest this right now but you will sort it out while you’re running.” I felt too cruddy even to run so at first I walked and I missed my family so I opened the laundry room door and called, “Anyone want to walk with me?”
My daughter ran outside and pulled on her white running shoes with the pink stripes. She walked by my side on this sunny, spring evening and she talked. Like any 8-year old, she has a lot to talk about and I am accustomed to listening but last night, I could not process her words. She stopped talking and asked me, “Mom, are you distracted?” I smiled. In that moment I heard a cardinal sing and saw the pink and yellow and green blossoms and I realized that everything outside my own mind just looked and sounded like so much static.
“Yes, sweetie, I am sorry. I have a lot on my mind.” Madeline rubbed my back with her reassuring little hand that no longer bears a cyst. “You’re upset about Ben, aren’t you?” I nodded and gritted my teeth so that I would not lose my composure. She continued, “Don’t worry Mom, it’s going to be okay.” I smiled and wrapped my arm around her shoulders. “Thank you sweetie. And please do not worry about me. I will be okay.” I never got to be a child so I try very hard not to lean on my own children. We finished our walk and then I went on a run and as I ran I tried to assemble and digest the thoughts swirling in my mind.
It had been a good morning but it fell apart at noon. The phone rang and I hung up on the other line and picked it up because the caller ID announced Terra Centre Elementary School. I cringe when the school calls. It is never good news.
The secretary patched me through to the Vice Principal while I squirmed. The VP is a man who has a gentle voice and kids of his own and one of my friends nicknamed him PBJ because that’s what his name sounds like if you say it fast. “Your son is here with me, Ms. Farris.” I held my breath and tried to ask why. “Well, he has calmed down some now, but for a while,” and PBJ paused to wipe his eyes, or so I imagined, “He was climbing all over the chairs. I think maybe he was nervous? It was strange. Now he is sitting here beside me eating his lunch and he is helping me count the minutes he’s behaved. Anyway, he and another boy pushed one another and apparently, Ben then proceeded to bite the boy in the finger.”
My world and his words faded as if the phone receiver had turned into a kaleidoscope of confusing noises. I screamed one of Munch’s silent screams and I whispered, “He did what?” And PBJ’s voice rolled and swelled and beat along and then he asked me if I wanted to speak to my son and I saw Ben’s little body and his dimples and his crazy-sweet, out-of-control smile and it was more than I could bear, this mashed-up mix of maternal love and fear and anger so I said, No,” and hit the red button on the phone and waited for PBJ’s voice to stop repeating himself in my head. It’s time.
I called my friend back and she said a lot of sage and kind things to me but all I really heard her say was the same thing I was saying to myself: “It’s time, El.” I thanked her and then I called my pediatrician’s office and left them a message and waited for the minutes to drift past but I kept getting lost in between the past and the future and I couldn’t figure out where I needed to be. All I knew is that I wanted to hold my son and yell at him and hug him and promise him, if only someone would promise me, that he was going to be okay.
Then the phone rang. It was the school again and it was three minutes past three and dutifully I picked up the damn phone. The secretary patched me through to the Principal. She is a woman with a voice as deep as her girth is wide, and she speaks really slow, which was good in this case, because she had Ben beside her and they were talking about the Golden Gate Bridge but that wasn’t really what they were talking about. “I don’t understand what you are saying!” My voice fractured and erupted and finally broke. And I stopped trying to speak because I was weeping too damn hard. “He threw rocks at a safety patrol,” Ms. Sims explained in her steady voice, “And you need to pick him up.”
Ten minutes later, I wore my aviator sunglasses and hoped that no one would glimpse my tear-stained face. I have not cried in front my closest friends. I don’t cry. Except I was crying.
A teacher whom I like very much stopped me in the hallway and she couldn’t see that I was crying so she asked me, with great cheer, how I was doing, and I tried to tell her that Ben had thrown rocks at the safety patrol, and Ms. T. laughed.
Then my son and his brother and sister spotted me and they sprinted toward me and slammed into me in one big heap of elbows and knees and messy hair and lopsided smiles. Behind them emerged the principal and she said nothing. She walked directly at me and then she enveloped me in this hug that makes me wanna cry all over again because her huge arms swallowed my smaller body like a whale eating Jonah and she held onto me for a long time. Just long enough, if ever is long enough when you’re a mother at her wit’s end. And I said to her “It’s time,” and she understood.
Five minutes later, I walked aside my 8-year-old going on 28 and then I heard the noise of pebbles pelting steel. Jim jumped up and down and then, I swear to you I what I am about to say is true, I saw Ben take a handful of gravel rocks and heave them at the gray SUV parked next to my black crossover. I laughed and cried and friends, I screamed, I did, at this man-child of mine, and I picked him up and swatted him and he looked sad and then he smiled at me and said he was sorry. And he kissed me and sucked his thumb and leaned in against me until I hugged him and told him I loved him. It’s time.
Beautiful, El. I’m speechless…. <3
Thank you so very much dear Lail. xoxo. I hope we can talk tomorrow.
One day I’ll tell you more about my kids–imperfect, challenging, and loved.
Hug that boy for me. I may not know him but I am certain he is extraordinary…like his mother.
Kelly: I sure will hug my dear little man-boy for you. And one day, sooner than later, I would love to hear about your children, and I know one thing for sure: they are loved. Thank you so very much my friend, xo.
You do what you can do and if that doesn’t work you have to ask for help. You know that you have done all that you can and now you need more than what you can give with all your loving support. It is not an easy decision and it is not one you rushed into. It feels like failure, when it gets better it will ease…. I am sorry for your pain. I can say personally that it can get better and it doesn’t have to be a forever thing, it maybe, but only time will tell. Keep strong and know you are not alone!! Hugs
Kada: thank you so much for your kind note. I very much appreciate your perspective and it helps so much to know that it does get better (and does not have to be a forever thing). And thank you for reassuring me that I have done everything I can … big hugs back at you! xo, el
God, El…made me cry, made me laugh…stay strong, darlin’ girl…NO decision is irrecovable, and this is just a new chapter…please continue to share with all of us who care about ALL of you because of your sharing…
Thank you so very much Segan093!! I am smiling at your sage words above as well as your compassion. xo. el
Only you can make that decision and when you know you know. There is nothing at all weak or bad about getting help for us or for our kids. I hope you find some peace in your steps forward sweet lady. Xo
Aw Shannon, thank you so much, especially for saying that “there is nothing at all weak or bad about getting help for us or for our kids.” And I am feeling much more at peace tonight. xo, my friend.
Of course my friend…glad you are feeling more peaceful. xo <3
YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. YOU ARE DOING WHAT YOU CAN FOR YOUR SON. because of this, darling El, if it works: he will have peace. he will have grace. he will be composed. he won’t have to hear “bad” anymore. he won’t sit in the hall during P.E. he won’t feel isolated and misunderstood. he will have all the energy he always has but he will be able to channel it. perhaps he will outgrow it and then: look out world, Ben’s got you all figured out.
I want you to know how deeply your words have effected me, El, but I can’t seem to pull my thoughts together as quickly as a comment would demand. I’ll sleep on all of this – your honesty, your pain, your love and the vision of you wrapped in that principle’s arms. That made me cry. I can feel you in her arms. Maybe I’ll be able to write tomorrow. I hope you sleep well.
Thank you oh so much Kasey. I am so so grateful to hear from you tonight and believe me I know exactly what you mean. I often feel the same way when I read something that gets to me or gets me–overcome. It means so very much to me to know that my words mattered to you. xo.
Aw, Molly, you got right to the root of what was eating at me. It is what always eats at me but I feel so vulnerable admitting it–but no longer ashamed, especially after watching Brene the other day. Thank you so much my dear friend. Thank you.
Hugs for you, El … and for Travis and Maddie and Jim and Ben. ♥
I agree with Shannon .. there is nothing at all weak or bad about getting help. I know it seems like a monumental thought, this “it’s time,” almost like a giving in. But the truth, El … the real truth that hardly anyone seems to recognize anymore is that it’s always time for that. We all wait until we are at our wits’ end, trying to take care of everything and everyone by ourselves and then we feel like we aren’t strong enough or smart enough when in reality our smarts and our strength are what allow us to say “it’s time.”
And by the way … I love you, too.
Hugs and so much love back to you sweetie. And from an objective standpoint, I know there is nothing weak about getting help but gosh, there is that negative self-talk again! And you are so right. We wait until we’re at wit’s end and try so hard to take care of everything without help and only then do we surrender to the reality that awaited us all along. I do have a pediatrician I trust with every ounce of my being.
And I love you.
I agree with you here. It is always time. I also know how El feels. It is so hard, and yes it does seem like giving up… BUT ITs NOT. I went through this with my own son years ago. Its painful, sure, but like others have said here sweetheart. You both will be a peace. This story brought back many memories! Stay true to yourself and don’t lose yourself while in the midst of all this. Big hugs to you all!
Hugs and gratitude my friend. Thank you so much. Big smile at you.
Blessings on you, El! I have been down part of the path you are on, and know a little of what you and yours face, from both sides. I am glad to see you writing about it. That will help you, your family, and anyone who finds you here and recognizes bits of their own stories in your words.
Whenever you feel like you have failed, or have not done enough, or not lived up to your children’s needs or expectations, take courage and comfort in knowing that you have already done so much, given so much, that you have made a huge difference. You will get through this… maybe with some ‘premature grey’, but through it, you will, one running shoe step at a time.
May you be blessed with continued courage, strength, determination, luck, and most of all love!
Thank you so very, very much Annie!! I reread your comment above a few times and it fills my heart with gratitude and also a sense of calm and much comfort. You are a blessing my friend. xo.
Hugging you from afar right now…those two words are so ridiculously difficult to realize, admit, speak. Definitely brought me to tears tonight…hang in there, momma.
And big hugs right back at you Blissfully Discontented!! Thank you for your support!!
Thank u for sharing El – u touch my heart w ur words
Thank you so very much my dear Tina!! xoxo.
Sweetie, you know we talked this through. I know you know. I know this is so hard. But it is a really good time of year to try something. Because you will all see the difference (hopefully) that some medication might make. And then Ben will be able to sit and listen. The impulsivity will slow. He won’t be “bad.”
It’s something to try.
You know I’m here for you friend. Always. Especially on the phone.
I know it sweetie. I do know. And I know you are there but it is awfully late (lol I am smirking). It has been a tough week hun and I needed to work this one out in writing. To resolve it I guess. Love you.
I don’t know you but was led here by another blog.
This is my 6 year old boy as well. The little boy that we just started in medicine in December and here we are almost in April and he is like a new child, but the same silly sweet child in so many ways.
My husband describes it like this: he has been in a race car equipped with no brakes. He can’t slow down to see the scenes outside or to feel the wind in his hair. The medicine gives him brakes. He can see the flowers on the side of the road, smell the air, feel the wind. he can also feel things now that he couldn’t before, some of which is not all good….frustration, hurt. But he is learning now how to deal with those feelings by using words instead of actions.
It takes time to get it right, but for us it was the right decision. I hope your case works out similarly.
Welcome new friend!! And thank you so much for your thoughtful and helpful comment. What really spoke to me was your husband’s analogy to a racecar unequipped with brakes. That really resonates with me. I am happy to hear that the medicine has worked for your boy. Thank you.
Much love to you and your little man. I’ve been thinking about therapy for mine lately. Luckily, he doesn’t act out much at school, but at home I can hardly handle him sometimes.
We do what we have to do to keep our babies healthy and happy. *hugs*
And much love back to you Pinwheels and Poppies. I am also going to take him (and us, indirectly) back in for more therapy. CBT should probably help him, and I hear you re “I can hardly handle him sometimes.” Same here. Much love right back to you, and good on you Mama.
Thanks, El. xoxo
Hi El! This is my first time visiting your site, too! My heart breaks for what you are going through. My own “Ben” is 25 years old now, and doing good, but I do remember having “those” days you have written about here. I adopted my son at 2 days old, and he was, (still IS), my sun, moon, and stars all rolled into one! I totally was his biggest cheerleader! But, I remember when I knew, “It’s Time”, and made a decision to try medication, because HE needed it. It was the best choice I ever made! He was in the 1rst grade, and was having tons of trouble focusing…yet, I knew how bright he was! I felt so bad for him, being such an impulsive little guy, he did not have a single friend! I felt like I was the only one in the whole world who loved my son! It was time, plain and simple.
I will never forget the 2nd day of my son being on medication, when at car pick-up, he came running to our car, grinning from ear to ear! He was bursting with the news: “Mommy, I made a friend today at school! Can he come to our house to play some day?”.
Also, a couple of days later, his teacher approached me to ask, “WHAT has happened to “Ben”??? He is a totally different child!”.
El, some kids really do NEED medication. Do it for Ben. ♥
God Bless you,
Hello and God Bless you too, P.j.!!!
Welcome to my blog–I am very grateful to have you here with us!! Aw, I am so happy to hear how well your “my sun, moon, and stars all rolled into one” is doing now!! I hear you loud and clear re all of the things you said about your little guy when he was in first grade. And I will do it for my dear boy. I have an appointment with the pediatrician in a week.
xo, and please come back and visit soon!
El, I’ve cried so hard reading your last few blog entries that I had to stop eating my lunch. Your sweet Ben sounds like my beautiful Bear — silly, happy, funny, smart, loving…and very difficult to raise. My 6yo son has ADHD, ODD, and severe anxiety. He’s been on medication for about a year now, and it’s made a huge difference in his life and in ours. It’s not a magic bullet, but it does make things better. Ben isn’t a bad boy…he’s a little boy with an illness that makes it hard for him to slow down enough to think things through. ADHD is as much an illness as diabetes or cancer. Ben isn’t responsible for how he acts, although he does need to learn consequences (that’s a hard one) and he does need to learn to control his actions (again…that’s a hard one). The other side of it is that you are no more at fault for Ben’s behaviour than a parent whose child has epilepsy is at fault for their child’s seizures. There are lots of blogs and Facebook pages for parents with children like our guys. I blog at The ODD Mom, but I also highly recommend A Mom’s View of ADHD and Easy to Love but Hard to Raise. Hugs. It sounds like you’re doing a great job.
Thank you so much for reading my blog and for caring enough to leave such a heartfelt and well-researched response. I will check your blog out as soon as I finish typing (grrr–faster El faster lol). A big hug to your wonderful Bear. It makes me feel good to know that while the meds aren’t a magic bullet, they have made things easier. The same holds true for the meds I take for MDD/Bipo 2. And I completely agree that “ADHD is as much an illness as diabetes or cancer.”
And once I check out your page, I will check out the second two pages as well. I am glad to see you here and look forward to talking to you further. Thank you so much!
It will get better the older he gets and sometimes meds are really needed. Our Pediatrician always told us that the more mature he gets, the better control he will have over impulses, behavior, etc…You do what feels right and you can’t go wrong when you do that! I love reading your posts and am now following your blog. God bless!! 🙂
God bless and thank you so very much Marie!! It comforts me to know that “. Our Pediatrician always told us that the more mature he gets, the better control he will have over impulses, behavior, etc.” Thank you for stopping by-good to see you here!!
I’m crying my mama tears, because I, too, had that realization.
If you (who know him better than anyone) say it’s time, then it probably is. But the time may very well pass. As he grows, and matures, he’ll develop skills and understand things that he just can’t at this age.
If it’s what’s right to help him succeed, then it’s time. And it’s OK.
Thank you so much Lisha darling!! Big mama hugs to you. And I am so sorry that you have had to sort through the same issues. I appreciate knowing that “the time may very well pass.” xoxo.
Another beautifully written and beautifully honest post. Thank you! And while unfortunately I can’t offer words of experience from raising my own children, I did spend many years working with children who were on medication, and can absolutely relate to the hesitancy parents feel about it (to put it mildly!). But as others have said, it is in NO WAY giving up. I think giving up would only be if you suddenly stopped caring. When it came to the children I worked with, the unmedicated students were often quite violent. I think the right medication can benefit everyone involved and like eehmore said, your son can still be fully loaded with all of his wonderfulness – but now he’ll have brakes, too!
You are a role model, and I just love your writing! Sending you many hugs and smiles!
Aw Jules, thank you so much my friend!!! I appreciate your wisdom and compassion and support so very much!! xoxo.
Hi El…your post is so real and raw. I work as a school counselor (as well as life coaching) and I SO admire the parents who realize when it’s time. It can’t be an easy decision, nor can it be an easy decision to not make. So many kids with ADHD are so helped with medication. I’m not a huge advocate for medication because I feel like it is over prescribed. But there are times when medication will greatly increase quality of life for the patient and the family. My heart goes out to you as you navigate through this very difficulf time.
Thank you so much Carrie. And I really appreciate your insight, both as counselor and life coach. Aye, I wish for sure that meds weren’t required but I am at peace now, and I so don’t want to be THAT parent — the one who apologizes for their child’s behavior without getting them the help they need. Thank you for stopping by–it is so good to see you here!
You are amazing. I know I cannot feel your pain, but when I read your words, I feel as if I do. Your son is BLESSED to have you as his mother … and the fact that you know it is time, and you are going to act on this feeling is a gift. I pray you have the right resources and the right support to make the next steps in this difficult journey — to clear all the fuzziness from his mind so he can be in control and make the right choices he desperately wants to make. Praying for light, praying for peace for you and your precious son.
Aw Hands Free and most wonderful Mama: thank you so very much!! “Your son is BLESSED to have you as his mother”–your words mean the world to me. And I accept with much gratitude, your prayers for light and peace. I am so blessed to know you and have you as my friend.
Oh jeez, how tough for you and your family. I’m hoping you find the answers you need for your little man.
Aw, thank you so very much Peg!