I feel completely worn out and defeated. These past 9 months have been the most exhausting months I’ve ever had, as far as I can remember. Sleep deprivation, resentment, frustration, anger, sadness, uncertainty and lots of stress.
9 months ago, the boys moved in. 9 months ago, my life changed forever.
But before that-10 months ago, after over a year of being in a long-distance relationship, Chris finally found a house that seemed perfect for us and our kids. He closed on it July 31st and we moved in on August 1st. We wasted no time. I had been packing up my apartment in Ohio, in hopes of closing on this house. We just got lucky. Or maybe we just made it happen that way. Who knows? Whatever the case, that day (Aug.1st) had been a long time coming, and I was deliriously happy to finally be starting my life over with the person of my dreams. Not to mention the upgrade from a little 2 bedroom apartment in Akron near the ghetto to a 4 bedroom house in a nice suburb of Detroit. Lucas would have more room to run and play, Chris and I would finally be sharing space, we’d live down the street from the elementary school that has a great IB program, and our kids would all be able to live and grow together as brothers.
Sounds perfect, right? It felt wonderful and magical for about 3 weeks. Then Chris’s boys moved in and that changed the dynamic of things.
Now, I’m not saying we were totally surprised by the changes that happened once the boys were here. We knew there would be some transition and adjustment for everyone, but it was still a lot more than what we bargained for. All 3 of our boys are VERY different from each other and that causes a LOT of problems, to say the least.
Lucas is my spawn. He is a 4 year old powerhouse of energy and sound. He never stops going and has little to no concept of personal space yet. He’s just too young. A great word to describe Lucas is intense. He’s louder, more emotional, more persistent, more impatient, more everything than most kids. I suspect that he’s got ADHD, but he’s too young to diagnose, so only time will tell, but I feel pretty confident about that suspicion. (The boy can’t sit still for anything. He falls out of his chair at mealtime 8 out of 10 times because he’s always moving.)
Finn is my fiance’ Chris’s 7 year old son. He has been diagnosed as being on the autism
spectrum and is moderately cognitively impaired. He also has severe speech apraxia, a fancy way to say that he doesn’t talk. He does have a few “words” and makes plenty of noise via grunts, screams, groans, moans, growls, beeps, and blips.
Just kidding. Those last two I made up. His only real word is “Yeah”. He does use some sign language, but even that is used Finny-style, so communicating with him can be a challenge. He’s also not potty trained, and he can also be aggressive at times, especially if you get in his space and he doesn’t want you there.
Simon is Chris’s 6 year old. He’s a pretty typical kid. Likes a healthy mixture of kid things, talks a LOT (I think he just likes the sound of his own voice) is smart and a little too pretentious for his own good. Mostly laid back and grew up with a brother who doesn’t really “play” with toys or in any typical way, so I think he got used to having everything his way and not having to share too much because Finn shows little to no interest.
So…put those 3 personalities together and you have something just short of a nuclear reaction.
Finn seems to have it out for Lucas. He has all but stopped hitting everyone else except Lucas. In fact, Finn will go out of his way to get to Lucas and inflict some kind of pain on him. He hits, pulls hair, scratches, pinches, bites, you name it. But- Lucas often provokes him because he somehow gets a kick out of that attention he gets from Finn, even though it is negative. So we’re constantly telling Finn to leave Lucas alone and vice versa, and we have to punish them somehow making it seem fair, but it never really is. Disciplining a child with special needs is tricky, especially when they don’t understand context. So, we’ll put Finn in time out for hurting Lucas, and as soon as he’s let out, he goes straight for Lucas again, as if nothing ever happened. *sigh*
Lucas is no angel either. Like I said, he’s intense and has zero concept of personal space. He also does a lot of antagonizing just to see what kind of reactions he’ll get from both Finn and Simon. But- when we first moved in here, Lucas’s biggest problem was mainly the personal space one. He was never aggressive or mean. He always wanted to share and just wanted to play all the time.
Since day one, Simon has dealt with Lucas as if he’s an invasion of some sort. Lucas was smitten with him from the very beginning, “Let’s play, Simon!” “Play with me, Simon!” “Play with me…play with me…play with me…!”. But for whatever reason, Simon wasn’t having it. Chris and I had hoped that Simon would be excited to have someone his size to play with finally, but Simon would play with him for a minute and then I think he just got overwhelmed by Lucas’s intensity and he’d shut down and walk away to find something more quiet to do. Lucas would follow him, not understanding that sometimes kids just don’t feel like playing, and Simon would get upset and lash out.
He just didn’t quite know how to play with Lucas, I guess. Every time something happens that Simon doesn’t like, he handles it with aggression. I can’t even begin to count the number of goose-eggs that Lucas has suffered at the hands of Simon.
Lucas is a button-pusher though. He’ll get right in Simon’s face and make some crazy noise because he thinks it’s hilarious, and he’s still shocked when Simon hits him or pushes him in response to that. Lucas is also careless in his physical movements, meaning he has no concept of how what he does affects others around him. He’s constantly bumping into people, hitting, kicking and just disregarding others in general. I know that some of it is intentional, but I really think it’s largely a part of the ADHD. He’s always moving, and if he suddenly gets a burst of energy that causes him to yell, “BLAH!” and start flailing his arms, he’s not going to think first about whether or not someone is close enough that they could get hurt. He just isn’t. He’ll throw toys, not at all aware of the consequences. He can be punished for the same things over and over again, and still doesn’t seem to “get it.”
Poor little guys don’t really stand a chance against each other. Finn is the biggest of thethree, and the other two are about the same size. Lucas is starting to fight back, so there has been a lot of blood (not literally. Mostly just bumps and bruises) and tears shed between he and Simon. Simon is also older than Lucas, so he tries to manipulate Lucas with typical kid tactics like, “If you don’t let me have your truck, I won’t play with you.” and of course, Lucas falls for it, at least he used to. I think he’s on to Simon’s trickery, and I think Simon is getting smart about Lucas’s button-pushing. He’s not reacting as much as he used to, but he’s still reacting too often. And Finn is just Finn. When he does decide to play with the wee ones, they get mad at him because he wants to knock over block towers and take toys from them or play with the toys in what they think is the wrong way, and this somehow stresses them out. So even the little attempts that Finn is making to actually play are getting foiled by the wee ones and their wee agenda that apparently doesn’t include Finn. *sigh*
Just writing about it makes me tense. I hope it’s not stressing you out too much.
All of this is making me crazy. It’s making me feel like I am reaching the end of my rope, but I don’t want to let go because I love my fiance’ and I love these boys. I do. Despite all of the exhaustion and tension and stress, I love them. I just need to know that things are going to improve. Things have to change. I can’t hang on to the end of this rope forever. My hands are sweaty from all this stress. If I do lose my grip, I hope there’s a trampoline to break my fall and bounce me back up.