Tag Archives: Teenagers

Pregnancy and parenting teens don’t mix

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Pregnancy and parenting teens don’t mix

Well, our little mini break without the kids and school pressures on hold due to school holidays is over. And don’t I know it. 

I’d been rocking along ok for a while, yeah maybe I wasn’t happy that they still using that c word at me (cesarean) but that’s not the end of the world, just an inconvenience (I’ll have very little help after the birth) and a disappointment to get over if it happens. But by the end of that first week back at school I that wasn’t feeling  great. I reasoned it away: I was stacking on the weight, which was getting me down; I am approaching the third trimester and starting to get tired again, which is to be expected; there were some pressures coming up at work, I found out I was going to be the one left holding the fort over the Christmas/New Year period at eight months pregnant; and the first week of school term always hurts a little as I get back into the hectic swing of things. I chose to work from home on the Friday, I’m lucky to have that option, and thought I’d pick up over the weekend.

I didn’t. I had lots of plans, but I was tired and struggling to do them. Mr Z was a bit crabby with me, wanting me to do more. I was trying, but really I was pushing already, too hard. When everyone is used to you being the one keeping it all together ads getting things done they don’t react too well when you start dropping balls though. Don’t expect sympathy, expect a’get it together mum’ attitude. I tried.

By Monday afternoon, the first day of the working week, I was already struggling. I’d had yet another call from the school about my eldest son’s behaviour. The usual support teacher is away for a couple of months and it seems like everything is going to pieces, I felt on the edge of cope. I came home, cranky at my lack of help, made dinner then went to bed to watch Netflix on my phone with headphones in. An unspoken do not disturb. People weren’t pleased. I didn’t care.

By Tuesday morning I was exhausted just getting out of bed, I had a headache and my eyes hurt. I had a big row with both my eldest son and Mr Z. I felt over them both. I went to work in an upset daze, just staring out the window of the train, unable to do so much as read the news. When I arrived at work I told people I simply wasn’t well, had a bad headache (it was true) and was told I was looking terrible and pale in return. I had no appetite, I left work just after lunch, tears threatening to spill over already the train. I felt exhausted and the sciatic pain was overwhelming.

Mr Z got home late that night, again I was in bed. He didn’t so much as come in the room. It became obvious he intended to sleep on the lounge. At one point I got up and tried to talk to him, to tell him I wasn’t well, but he didn’t want to know. I ended up yelling it at him, that someone should know that I’m not doing ok, whether he cared or not, just in case something happened. He ignored me. I cried myself to sleep. 

The following day he was distant but kind, he brought me coffee in bed. I got out of bed long enough to get the kids to school, then returned, and so did the tears. I cried off and on for hours that day, unable to stop for very long between, my head splitting. I was texting a friend, trying to verbalize what was wrong, I couldn’t, the only words in my head were “I can’t”. Mentally I kept running over everything I have to achieve, telling myself I had to get it together, I had no luxury to go to pieces, but the only response to anything was “I can’t”.

Mr Z finally approached me, saying “You aren’t doing ok are you?”. My reply was yet another bout of sobs. He doesn’t do crying, he usually heads out the door till it’s over. He stayed, put on his professional hat and gave me an assessment. High blood pressure, he eventually concluded. I cried some more. He gave me an acupuncture treatment, frustrated that it wouldn’t provide an instant fix that would get his partner back to him, now.

I stayed in bed for the rest of the day, and didn’t go to work the following day either, although I had finally managed to get out of bed. The treatment was kicking in and my headache was letting up although I was still a bit dizzy. Then the vice principle rang. She was putting my son on a in-school suspension for a day, they were at wits end with him. I said join the club. 

I told her I wasn’t doing so well myself, the baby was starting to be affected. She said she didn’t push medication, and respected my decision to this point to not go down that path, but for everybody’s sake maybe it was time. She said he just was too disruptive to keep in the classroom, but was trying so hard and was starting to get down on himself that he just didn’t get it. 

I have always been on his side, always asking for understanding for him because he doesn’t think the same way as the average person, but now I wasn’t so sure. He was given a lunch time detention and simply decided not to go. That isn’t autism, that arrogant teenage  asshole-ism. I wasn’t so convinced that autistic thinking was behind his behaviour, so much as having been suspended and his father  (that he ran off to at that point) having allowed him to treat it like a holiday, a reward, a well needed break from having to behave himself at school. That experience, and his autistic view of it – that it didn’t matter how it affected anyone else, it was a good thing for him- I viewed that the biggest problem here. I’m not sure he needs medication so much as a good kick up the behind.

The following day I felt a lot better, the acupuncture treatment was kicking in, although a lingering headache persisted. It was Friday and rather than push myself to go to work I took the extra day to rest and go to the hospital antenatal clinic for a more formal checkup for peace of mind. My blood pressure had come down to the normal range and baby was doing fine but they put more through a lot of tests anyway, my risk factors for pre-eclampsia were increasing and they needed to rule it out, which they did. Not only that but I’d lost 2kg, probably due to the reduction in hypertensive fluid retention. I left relieved.

And so we trudge on. I’m still not glowing.

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Why we shouldn’t judge

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Why we shouldn’t judge

I got my first discipline related call from the new high school yesterday. I can’t tell you how stressful I find these calls.

Everything had been quiet in the first seven weeks, although admittedly Master13 had been off sick for almost two weeks due to a bad run with illness this winter. I have been checking in with him regularly and while after a few weeks his depressive mood seemed to be lifting he still spoke of not having been able to make a friend. They are all friendly he said, but they say he doesn’t look happy in their company, maybe he would be happier if he made other friends. 

“They are not like me”, he says, “I don’t know what to say to them, they are not into the same things I’m into”. This is typical spectrum sort of stuff, there is typically a narrow range of interest and combine that with social awkwardness it becomes hard for them to make friends. He was clearly upset by Master10 spending last Saturday afternoon with his new friend; Master13 was jealous, it all seems to come so easily to Master10. To my delight however, on Monday afternoon Master13 asked if he could have a friend come over after school this Wednesday, the day that school finishes a little early each week. Maybe his jealously had promoted him to make a little bit more effort to reach out to a potential friend? I was relieved, this was definitely a step in the right direction.

It was the following day that I got the phone call. Master13 had been mucking around in class with a friend the day before, things had gotten a little out of hand and a pencil had been snapped and a child scratched on the arm with it. This is so typical a pattern, Master13 gets a friend and gets a little silly in his over excitement and something happens. Apparently the mother of this child had rung the school very upset about her son having been “assaulted” and wanted something done about it. The school counsellor assured me that he had inspected the mark and questioned both kids and it appeared to be nothing more than a bit of typical teenage boy rough-housing to him, but he was yet to know what the consequences were going to be (at the last school he would have had an immediate suspension). My heart sank. Here we were again, same place, my son being labeled and me probably being judged, the mother of “that” child, and “that” child’s heart would be aching, again. All he wants is to fit in.

There was part of me that was a bit frustrated and angry too. Surely Master13 had learnt something after everything we had been through at the last school, how could we be back here in this place, if the boy’s mother had been so upset and used a word like “assaulted” then it had to be more than a little rough-housing. The counsellor understood my concern, he assured me there was barely a mark, it seems the mother has a tenancy to overreact according to the son who was equally upset that the whole thing had escalated to this point. The counsellor said he would call the mum and see if he could smooth it over. Great, I thought, when Master13 finally makes a friend it has to be the precious son of an over-involved, helicopter mother.

A short while later the counsellor called back to explain the problem to me. This was the third school for the boy this year, the family had escaped an alcoholic and abusive father several years ago and had moved regularly since. The idea of someone hurting her son was too close to the bone, she admitted she overreacted. He didn’t say but I’m sure he had explained Master13’s Aspergers to her and he assured me she was now okay with the boys still catching up after school. I was relieved, for everyone’s sake. I was concerned too though, so I asked a few questions. Apparently there are four children, at times they have been in a shelter, the boy is the eldest and probably carries the most burden in terms of supporting his mother who is struggling. The counsellor explained that it’s difficult to imagine what she/they might have been though but I should try to see it from her perspective. No, I said, it’s not so difficult, I’ve had my own personal experience in this area although not to that extent, but I understand more than most. My heart went out to her.

For me this is a reminder that we should never judge people, we have no idea what issues they are dealing with, what they have been through or are recovering from. Master13 has complained of being hungry after school lately, he’s been sharing his food with a friend. I think I’ll pack him a little extra every day from now on.

Help and hope

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Help and hope

The second day we called the plumber to come fix the tap so that one of the kids didn’t have to stand in the front yard on tap duty every time we needed water, and an electrician to sort out the switch in Mstr13’s bedroom that had a sign tapped over it “Danger, live wire, do not touch”. By the time Monday came around we were fully functional and I prepared myself to face the worst part of the move, convincing the new school that my son might be arriving with a substantial disciplinary record and a few suspensions to his name but that he was misunderstood and had been in an environment that was not good for him and he wasn’t going to cause the same problems here. He just needed a fresh start. And then I looked at my son who had given me so much grief over the past six months and prayed it was true.

It wasn’t the best experience I’d ever had but it went better than expected because there was a surprise waiting for me. This school has an autism unit. Not that Mstr13 belongs in one, but it meant that they recognise and understand spectrum behaviors and the chance of him being labeled a bad kid when in fact he is just a little different was much lower. He is a good kid, with good intentions, but he can’t tolerate germs for example, and will freak out if someone that regularly puts his fingers in his mouth touches something of his; becomes very distracted and annoyed in loud and chaotic environments, and sometimes does inappropriate things in order to try and fit in with other kids. This last one was particularly bad as some kids have taken advantage of that in the past, setting him up to do things that would get him in trouble just for the entertainment value. Mstr13 doesn’t understand these subtle bullying behaviors and gets hurt, and into trouble. This is where we had found ourselves at the last school, where he had dug a hole with the teachers so deep that he couldn’t get out of it, and was left feeling bitter towards the kids that had helped him get there, crying every night over his lack of friends but at the same time still vulnerable to doing whatever they told him to if it offered a chance of social acceptance.

I went home that day and said a quiet thank you to whoever it was that helped me find my way to that school, because I had absolutely been helped. Maybe my grandfather, who passed when I was 11 but I know is around for time to time? Or my grandmother, who passed last year? Maybe it was God, or my guardian angel, because I sure had been praying for help. I just know that in a moment of complete despair, sitting at the kitchen table literally too stressed and exhausted to cry anymore, feeling numb and empty and hopeless after yet another confrontation with my miserable Mstr13, I sat with my mind empty, blank, too overwhelmed to think. Our confrontations were affecting everyone, and I wasn’t sure how much longer MrZ was going to put up with it, we were living in a stressed out hot-house. It was then that the name came to me. It was the name of a suburb, I could see it in my minds eye clearly. After a while I sat up. What did it mean?

I had a look on Domain.com at the house prices in the area. OMG, the size of the places, at rents so much less than what we were paying! But it was so far away, could I even get to work from there? I looked up the train timetable. I was currently catching the bus to work, a minimum one hour trip either way and with travel sickness the occasional added bonus, but at this place it would be a standard, comfortable one hour ten minute trip by train. Not much difference at all, possibly even an improvement. I ran the idea past the kids; they were open to it. Then and there I made a decision, we were going to move.

From that point I was able to start to pull myself out of the depression I had found myself sinking into, we were making changes and life was going to get better for all of us. Rather than sit feeling hopeless and helpless there was something I could do, and I threw myself into the task of making it happen. I looked into a few other options but it always came back to that same area and that is where a short while later we ended up.

So that day, returning from a school in which I felt my son was in much better hands, I said another prayer, a prayer of thanks.

Lead up to the move

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A few weeks ago we moved house. There was a big, stressful build-up to our decision to move. There was the second exorbitant rent rise in six months, the fact that the place really was too small for the four of us and the kids were going to kill each other if they had to share such a tiny bedroom for much longer, the rising real estate prices that meant that we were never going to be able to buy a property in the area so at some point we’d have to leave anyway, and then the fact that Mstr13 had burnt his bridges at school. It was this last one that was the clincher. Diagnosed as borderline Aspergers years ago we’d been through periods like this before, either the environment was going to work or it wasn’t. And this one wasn’t.

I had wanted to take the opportunity to move to a more reasonably priced area at the beginning of the year when he was changing schools to start high school, but all his friends were going to this school and he really wanted to go, he struggles to make new friends he reminded me. In reality the friends he already had were not great friends, he was always counting on making new ones, but he is a computer geek type into online gaming, and our local high school was a sports high school, so I supposed I didn’t really expect it to work out. I gave him the chance though, because that also meant Mstr10 could stay where he was happy. Our last move 18 months had involved a change of school and had been hard on him, it had taken him a long time to make a close friend, I didn’t want to put him through another change unless it really was necessary.

But the rent was killing me. And the higher the rent the further away the possibility of buying. And then there was the housing boom, the one I was missing out on. MrZ is a full time student completing a Masters degree, so buying wasn’t really an option right now as I was the only one really working (he works a few hours on a Saturday). Neither one of us had done well in our divorces, both having unethical exes sitting pretty as we struggle, both of us having been happy at the time just to be free from our toxic situations, although his was more recent than mine. That was the other thing. To move to a more affordable area meant moving a long way from my kids dad and he wasn’t going to like it. Mstr13 was busy building a disciplinary record as long as my arm though, I needed to get him out of that environment before the damage was irreversible.

I’m writing about it calmly now but it was anything but calm at the time. Mstr13 was a nightmare to get to school in the morning, and I was also fighting his father who had tried to get Mstr13 to live with him full time, while on the other hand the school had identified his father as a significant part of the problem and had agreed to keep working with me and Mstr13 if I limited contact between them. Finding him intense and unreasonable they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. How was I supposed to explain that though, without making everything so much worse? In the end I made the decision to move away – a good hours drive away – and to wear what I had to in regards to being the bad guy. The other options just weren’t feasible.

Three weeks later we were packing.