Wednesday, 7 May 2014
We all have them. Pancake days. The ones where you wake up in the morning bleary eyed and begrudging your alarm, look in the mirror and wonder why a raggedy old troll has inhabited your body, get even more irritated than usual at the damp towel in a nice neat pile on the floor, and envy the fresh cheery faces of your offspring who, incidentally, have no troll or towel related concerns. I’m talking about the flat days. And when I say pancake I don’t mean those fluffy American monstrosities, I’m relating to our skinny modest Brit versions. The days where everything seems tainted with just a tinge of doom. Not quite sufficient to tip you over the edge into a black hole of despair, but just enough of a sprinkling to shower your day in grumpiness.
I’ve had a few of those days recently. A pancake week, shall we say. I’m currently on a counselling course (as in learning how to be a counsellor) which requires constant self analysis and awareness and is, quite frankly, exhausting. Dredging up past events and linking them to my current patterns of thought and behaviour is hugely useful in some respects, and utterly useless in others. In a phrase so well-coined by this brilliant lady- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFEoMO0pc7k ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’ I’m realising how much I treat myself to the indulgence that is denial. I mean, acknowledging stuff and filing it away should work right? Apparently not. It’s like that irritating bill that comes through the door- you acknowledge it and file it away in your orderly system, also known as the drawer of disarray. It’s dealt with. Until the time another one arrives; this time screaming in big red letters ‘DEAL WITH ME!’ You repeat the same process; acknowledge, file, sorted, but that bill just keeps reappearing through your door, increasingly commanding your attention. A good analogy for the shitty stuff that crops up in life. We all have our own personal pancake issues, and I’m still constantly getting lost on the route to enlightenment with mine. But one thing I am learning- denial, with all its inviting cosiness, isn’t a workable long term option. Damn you counselling course, damn you!
So the reason for my pancake days? At the moment it’s an ongoing battle with the inefficient services and cash strapped local authority to adequately provide for the needs of our family. Those of you that know me personally know I am fiercely independent; survival instinct kicking in I guess, and I don’t expect anyone else to take responsibility for the family I chose to have, including the local government. But what I would like to see is support to give my family the same shot as other typical families. People will often say to me that all parenting is hard, no matter what, as though throwing in a few life changing issues has little actual effect. While that may have been true in the early days-we all remember the mammoth effort involved to extract small wailing unpredictable humans from the house and relocate to the nearest toddler group for an hour’s worth of adult time, punctuated by shitty nappies and two year old tantrums- we’re still in that stage. All our friends who have kids the same age can now leave the house with relative ease. They can sit and watch their kids play from a safe distance. They can drink a hot cup of tea and put said hot cup of tea down with minimal chance of spillage and/or A and E trip. They can pee in peace. They have outgrown the migraine-inducing hellhole that is soft play and moved on to outside unfenced parks and bike rides along the beach.
I’ll let you in on a secret, in case it wasn’t utterly clear from my caustic tone; I’m kinda jealous. There, I said it. As Joey Essex would say, I’m weljel. I’m done with this eternal baby phase. And I am done with jumping through every hoop the government decide I need to jump through just to survive. I love my kids. I love my boy, but the littlest crack continues to develop into the biggest schism right through the middle of our family. We split the parenting out of necessity; one of us with B, one of us with the others, meaning S and I rarely see each other. Getting out and about with B is getting harder and harder- his latest proclivity is running full pelt into people, and burying his face in clothes of an unusual texture. Problem is he happens to be crotch/butt height for most regular-sized adults, and let’s face it, it’s a little socially inappropriate for a child to nuzzle into a complete stranger’s genital region. Awkward. He’ll sometimes bite too, his way of feeling the fabric, which doesn’t bode well for Joe Public. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Not to mention he’s a flight risk. We’ve tried reins, but he hangs off them for the sensory experience. He’s only happy in the buggy for a limited time, and walking with him holding your hand is about as hopeful as rain in the desert.
My other kids have to quickly decipher what mood he is in on approaching them; a wrong judgement on their part leads to scram marks and bruises on any bare flesh that happens to be visible. The worst thing about it all is I hold no magic key to unlock what’s going on in his head. Is he in pain? Is he frustrated at his inability to effectively communicate? Does he actually understand every word that we say? Your guess is as good as mine. I have a meeting coming up with school to ensure we are consistent in our approach regarding communication strategies, and another meeting with the team of medical professionals to review his behaviour and meds. Mr Restless Roamer on speed does not equal safe, and we’ve had to resort to medicating for the best chance of him learning above everything else. Not to mention the ongoing battle for respite in the summer. When my kid is statemented as needing constant 1:1 support in school (a relatively safe environment) and occasionally 2:1 when out in the community, I think it’s slightly naïve to presume I am super-parent and can manage all four kiddos alone for the summer holidays while S works. Even making food for them becomes impossible.
So this past week and beyond has been a pancake week. Flat, and not in the calm sense. Maybe next week will be a muffin week. Everyone needs a muffin week now and then.