I have always appreciated how where we live in Canada there are four distinct seasons.
About half the time, I am all on board for the changing of the seasons. Okay, let’s be honest here, I am fully committed when we are changing from Winter to Spring, and from Spring to Summer. The other half of the time however (obviously I am talking about from Summer to Fall, and even worse, Fall to Winter) I dread. I drag my heels, I complain, I pout that the warm weather is leaving and the advent of what seems like the eternal winter is upon us once more. Throughout the entire winter, I find that I constantly need to remind myself that it is just a season. That this too, shall pass.
This morning Jake and I were in his weekly Speech session at PREP, the preschool he attends twice a week for children with Down syndrome. We had just finished what I thought was a really fantastic speech session. He was engaged and involved during activities that are typically non-preferred for him, and he pushed through an activity that he was not interested in at all, and completed it. I was so proud of him and the progress that he is making with his new Speech Therapist.
We left her office, and were standing at the door to go downstairs to his preschool room. Before opening the door, however, I stopped to chat with a friend, who was there for a different class with her little guy. In the middle of my conversation with her, there was a commotion. I stopped talking and looked over, just in time to see Jake pushing another little one down to the ground, and standing over him pulling on his hair. I immediately stopped him, scolded him, and made him apologize to the poor little boy. Compliantly, he did apologize, I apologized profusely to the mother, and, full of shame and embarrassment, I quickly excused myself and took Jake down to school.
I came back upstairs after dropping him off, got into my car, and wept. I bawled like a baby for a good half an hour. Huge, heaving, ugly sobs of frustration and disappointment and embarrassment and inadequacy.
I wept because this was not an isolated incident. There was that time at the park last week, where he went up to a random kid and pushed him over for no reason. There was that time a few days ago that he bit his cousin on the cheek, completely unprovoked. There was that time today, after preschool, where his gymnastics instructor told me very gently, that he has developed a new behavior in the class of attempting to bite people who get in his way. There was that time yesterday at his typical preschool where his aide stopped him as he was reaching out to pinch a peer. And the list goes on…
I wept because I don’t understand. There have been no changes in our schedule or routine, there have been no major life transitions that have occurred lately, there has been nothing to suggest that he should be acting out in this way. I do not understand why the sudden change in my once easy-going child.
I wept because I want more for Jake. I want him to have friends, not drive his peers away with his erratic behavior. I want to be able to trust him around other kids. I want to continue to provide him with more opportunities for independence and growth, not feel as though I have to monitor his actions more closely. I want him to be a healthy, well-rounded child, capable of understanding and controlling his impulses.
I wept because I feel like a failure. Like I am somehow not providing him with the tools and resources he needs to be able to function in appropriate ways. Like I am failing Jake in the moments he needs me the most.
I don’t understand this new phase. I don’t know where it came from, why it exists, or how to navigate through it.
I know it is just a season. I know that this, too, shall pass.
But today, I wept.