Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All This Before Ten AM

I had originally wanted to show you some pictures from my garden, but life nudged me in a different direction. Don't get me wrong---I'll still show you the pictures---but I'll attach meaning to it. I'll force out the metaphor like a washerwoman pounding worn dungarees with a rock.

I can't promise that it will be a successful metaphor, but I hope you'll stay with me.

This morning, I drove to the local middle school. I've been doing some editing work for one of the administrators, and planned to pop in and pop out to get a paycheck. I felt good on the drive down--sunny, hopeful. Paul and I had talked last night after a difficult conversation the evening prior, and I felt like we had made headway.

Marriage with young children is tough. It's easy to give everything away, and leave nothing for each other. We came up with all sorts of solutions, but we're trying this strategy: I will stop doing non-essential chores if they make me resentful. For example, if I don't feel like doing the dishes or picking up Paul's dirty clothes, then I won't. He will either do it himself, or I will do it at a time that it no longer makes me resentful.

It's not passive-aggressive, because we agreed on this strategy together. I've just started it, but I already feel a bit empowered.

But, oh, the fighting and the discussing is challenging. I spent yesterday emotionally spent, writing and deleting blog posts that were full of the drama and the darkness. It is work to figure out how you're feeling. It is work to push up from the darkness and bring issues to light. It is so much easier to stay underground. And yet, Paul and I made the decision to push, and to seek the sunshine.

This was on my mind as I drove to that middle school. I unloaded the boys and stepped into the office. While we were waiting to get the envelope, Joel bumped his head on something and started crying.

I rushed him out of the office, but not in time. There was another boy in the room, probably an eighth grader. Big kid. He was getting visibly agitated by the noise, started screaming,  and the next thing I know, he had shoved me, twice, and hit Joel in the face before an incredibly quick and compassionate secretary restrained the boy.

Joel was wailing. Owen was terrified. I was shaking. I was quickly whisked into another room, where we all settled down. The principal was apologizing, as she explained that the boy, who had severe Autism, was triggered by noise.

I understood. This was no thug. This was a terrified young man, already in the office for whatever reason, now faced with too much noise, too much overload, just too much. They were not excusing him-as they were attending to the boys and I, the young man was talking with the vice principal---nor were they dismissing the fact that my boys and I were physically attacked.

Somebody hit this face? 

I'll admit that the thought passed through my mind--Why was that kid unsupervised? Who allowed him there? 

The mama-bear inside me wanted to rip his face off. 

Of course, I don't know this kid. I don't know his history, or what makes him happy. 

I don't know anything except that somebody loves him.

Somebody rocked that baby to sleep.

Somebody is going to get a phone call today saying that her son attacked a crying baby, and that mother is going to despair, and hope, and pray for answers. She will cry for her son. 

And while I am sad for my sons, and scared, and furious, I am also crying for her son. Hoping for him. Sending love his way. Praying that he gets the support he needs so he can flourish, and grow. 


blueviolet said...

I admire your ability to see beyond that physical attack to the child that lies within. I'm not so sure I would be capable of doing the same thing. Mama bears roar. You are a sweet soul, Nancy.

And I'm so happy that Joel is ok.

Nancy C said...

Yes-very important detail--Joel was fine. Scared, but he was laughing less than five minutes after the event.

Erin said...

What an inspiring tale with a twist. I'm glad everything turned out alright and that it was Autism at the root of it all. I am crying for that boy and his mother.

Sonya said...

I'm so glad Joel is ok and that you are too..wat a scarey situation that must have been.

I've had the same conversations with my husband..sometimes we all need to keep in check with one another..our problem is that we lean so hard on one another that once and awhile one needs to lean less and get some extra attention. My husband and I are so used to taking on so much that when one of us finally breaks, we brake hard. Life sure isn't easy sometimes is it.

clearness said...

I am also crying for her son. Hoping for him. Sending love his way. Praying that he gets the support he needs so he can flourish, and grow. ......

That part says it all, you are an amazing woman and handled the situation wonderfully!

Viv said... IS Autism Awareness Month, and now, you are more than aware.

Seriously, that is frightening. It is beyond sad for all parties involved. There was an article that I read about an Autistic man denied treatment at a hospital for seizures because he was violent with police officers who stopped him, he was then charged with all sorts of things. I couldn't help but be reminded of that, reading your post. I wish the rest of the world were as compassionate as you are.

Maybe the boy doesn't have younger siblings, and so it wasn't known that he would react so violently to that type of stimulus? (I just tried my hand at optimism, I believe...there has to be a first time for everything.)

You guys are okay, I hope?

Anonymous said...

You saw beyond the attack, the fear, the frustration. You showed compassion, even when you didn't really want to. Especially when you didn't want to. Beautiful.

June said...

You are a beautiful person Nancy. The fact that you didn't rage on your post and blow this out of proportion, what a good Momma bear.

I like how you picked Hostas to post by the marriage paragraph...You can't kill those suckers, they just keep coming back big and stronger!!

Kori said...

I haven't a single thing of note to say here, just hope all is well.

Jenny said...

I am glad everybody is ok! Your garden pictures are lovely...

Melani said...

Wow! You handeled that in the best way, I can't say I would have reacted that way! Kudos to you!

On the topic of marriage and children. I can fully relate. I stay at home with 2 of my 4 kids and I babysit 2 more...I do all the dishes the kids use, plus my own, I vaccuum, I dust, I change diapers all day and when the end of the day comes, I want to sit and do nothing....but I don't. I interact with my hubby, either by watching our show for the night or sitting and reading while he plays his video game. We try to spend time together after the kids go to bed at 8. Some days are better then others, meaning sometimes Serena needs water or something and bugs us and Brandon almost always needs me to go in at least 2 to 3 times before he falls to sleep. Marriage and parenting takes work, whoever said it is easy is lying.

Bekah said...

I'm a little teary-eyed, both for the boy and at your reaction. Thanks so much for sharing this. What a touching reminder to always put yourself in someone else's shoes.

Ms. Moon said...

What a beautiful piece of writing! I love this. You took slices of your life and combined them all with masterly skill and made them something we can all relate to, think about, ponder.
I will think about that boy now. I will feel great compassion. Due to you.
And I am glad that your garden flourishes.

Mel said...

I love how you write, and I love what you write. You are incredibly thoughtful and kind. I feel for the boy who must go to school and overload every single day, and wish he had better coping skills. Who could hit that cute face? It shows the size of your heart that you looked past what happened to see the needs of the other family. I'm also very impressed at the mature and reasonable approach you take to solving problems in your marriage. Hope everything around you continues to flourish and grow.

sd said...

Wow- this really hit home for me. Just a few weeks ago my 1st grader had a frightening restroom incident with an older student who ripped my daughter's glasses off her face and threw them in the trash can. Like you, my maternal instinct kicked in initially and I was angry at the other child. Until I realized who the other child was... a fragile and neglected soul I know through my job... and my heart started hurting for her. AND for my daughter. AND for the other child's parent, even though she is the source of many of this child's issues. In this garden called the world, there are flowers and there are weeds and there are animals and there are "pests". Some look beautiful and some look ugly and some annoy the hell out of us. Yet they are all living things- all are trying to grow and make their way through the life cycle. People like you are the sunshine and the rain and the soil, which never discriminate. Your son and my daughter were innocent bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They will experience this at many different points in their life, but fortunately they have mothers who are able to model compassion and forgiveness.

michelle said...

Glad you and Paul are figuring things out. "Date night" is uber therapeutic if you can swing it. Even if it's only a slice of pizza and a beer, it helps a great deal to do it on a regular basis

Unknown Mami said...

"I will stop doing non-essential chores if they make me resentful." This is advice that I need to take, but in my case more importantly I think I need to stop requiring that my husband do non-essential chores that make him resentful.

only a movie said...

Love how you wove this all together. Feel sorry for all involved in the school incident.

Love not doing chores that make me feel resentful... I'm stealing it.

AngelNicki said...

I understand! A few weekends ago we went to a Touch A Truck event. While we were standing in line to climb into a truck, a boy about nine years old walked up, bent down to Pufferfish's level, put his face up to Pufferfish's face, and spit on her! It was disgusting and horrifying! The little boy's mother just said. "Oh my God!" and pulled him away.
I suspect the boy had some form of autism, because of his mannerisms and the way he talked. Because I've worked with kids with autism and know families with kids with autism, I know, you have to be able to take your kid out to do fun things, even when he's a little unpredictable. So I didn;t say anything, and I tried to make light of it to Pufferfish and Little Bear. On the other hand, I was like, "Dude, that kid just spit on my baby!!!" (

Angie Muresan said...

I am crying for that boy too. How unfair life is! Thinking of you, Nancy, and sending a hug through the miles.

Coby said...

The metaphor totally works. I admire how you and Paul pushed through together to come up with a solution that works for both of you.

You showed amazing character and grace my friend, with that boy at the school. I know you're a "Mama Bear," but that boy has a Mama Bear too, and for you to consider her after your child was struck is quite remarkable.

Minivan Lover said...

Are you ok? Did he push you into anything? Poor Owen for having to witness all of it. Poor Joely for being upset in the wrong place and the wrong time.

Cat said...

You're being much more generous than I would have been, more to the administration than to the child himself though. I hope that child is OK, and of course I hope your boys can get past it without bad memories.

I like the approach to chores.

Bethany said...

oh gosh, i wasn't expacting that.
i agree with you about how hard it is to let yourself push the stuff up and try to figure things out. good for you and Paul. that makes me feel hopeful and happy, as does your garden and your attitude about the school incident. tough stuff.

Jen said...

Oh honey. Hon, thank you for seeing it from the other mom's sad point of view. I can't thank you enough. That compassion will be learned by your son and society will benefit. I'm so sorry Joel got hit (and what a beautiful face!), and that Owen was so terrified, but thank you for your compassion.
Jen at Laughing at Chaos