This is going to be a bad post. It’s going to be honest and ugly. So judge away judgey-mcjudgers.If you are a friend or care about Cooper and I please be kind. It’s a dark day over here.
I just came from Cooper’s Kindergarten Assessment. It was terrible. It was actually beyond terrible. I try and look at the bright side and figure out how it could have been worse. No one died I guess. He didn’t pull the fire alarm.
Other than that…it couldn’t have been worse. And we even prepared just like we are supposed too. We talked the whole way to the school. 15 minutes of talking about his new teachers and his new school and all of the fun things that were going to happen.
And 45 minutes later here I am…spiraling. Wondering why. Wondering why me? What did I do wrong?
Let me start by saying I didn’t want to go. Cooper can’t handle assessments or evaluations. They are true stressful on him. But I felt shushed when I tried to speak up about it. So, against my better judgement, we went.
I truly, really, deep down thought I was past this. I thought I was past driving home and truly hating autism. Thinking about how I did everything right when I was pregnant. I didn’t drink alcohol. I didn’t smoke or do drugs. I exercised. I did it all right. I decorated the nursery. I prepared like every other mother.
This is what happens when you are beyond stressed out. You spiral into a pit of crazy and analyze everything. Or, more so, over-analyze.
I thought I was past those feelings.
I thought I was past looking in the backseat at him playing on his IPad and wondering what I did wrong. Wondering why everything academic is so hard for him.
I thought I was past being heartbroken as I watched the little girls and boys walk into the school carrying their backpacks and laughing and watching their parents snap pictures. I thought I was past this level of jealousy.
This is my third damn year. We did 3K and then 4K and I felt all of those feelings. Feelings of despair towards Cooper for being so different and making my life so hard. (I DO NOT HATE MY SON. I LOVE HIM MORE THAN LIFE.) Feelings of hating the teachers because they make us do those damn assessments when I told them it wouldn’t work. I told them it would be terrible. And most of all the feelings of being so utterly alone with this kid and having no one to talk to you. Because no one understands. They will never understand.
So what happened…he screamed from the second we pulled in the parking lot. He walked in screaming. Everyone stared. We walked into the cutest classroom that I could tell had been meticulously decorated by an uber excited teacher. And I watched Cooper tear it apart. He knocked over bins, chairs, cleared off whole tables. He ran, darted, rolled, kicked and screamed. He turned into an absolute maniac.
Within seconds I was drenched in sweat. Partly from chasing, partly from feeling the eyes on me and partly out of full blown stress because I didn’t know what to do.
If you are a teacher…or a medical professional…and you are watching a parent struggle….tell them what to do. They want to know what to do. Do they intervene? Do they watch? Do they help? Just tell them.
At one point Cooper knocked over a bin with thousands of crayons. No lie. I have never seen so many crayons go flying. And then ripped decorations off a wall. I couldn’t stop him.He ran and I chased. I know these teachers hate him. I know they are giving knowing glances to each other behind my back. I know he is acting terrible.
I want to scream…this isn’t him. This isn’t my sweet boy. It’s these assessments and evaluations that make him act like this. Give him time. Get to know him. You will love him. I promise. He is the sweetest kid.
But I couldn’t say anything. I was too busy chasing.
He kicked both the teachers in the stomach. He hit one in the face with a basket of glue.
And then I started silently crying. The kind where the tears leak a little bit and you can’t actually talk.
Once he began hitting himself repeatedly in the head we all knew it was done. We weren’t accomplishing anything.
And we just sorta left and I swear to God I felt a collective sigh of relief from the room.
Cooper even turned, smiled and waved.
We walked out past the typical kids and their parents. We got into the truck. Cooper requested his kindle and settled in for his ride home. And just like that he was happy. My kid was back. It’s like a case or split personalities. Except very few people see the joyous happy side.
And I cried.
And here I am again. Spiraling. Hating myself. Knowing I need to pull it together and get to work. Knowing I need to print off his visual schedule for tomorrow and figure out if the bus is set up home and wondering how I can be such a horrible person. And always wondering what I did wrong to deserve this.
And wondering if I should pull him from school. I could home-school him. We could avoid the stress. I could try something different.
Do I quit my job? Do I take his education into my own hands?
I know this is hard for him. He’s a happy kid. He wouldn’t act so wild and out of control if he felt comfortable. I know that. That’s not lost on me. It’s hard on him.
But God it’s hard on me. It’s hard on the parents. I’ve yet to figure out how to describe it. A broken heart I guess.
When we pulled in the driveway I sat there and watched the rain and thought all my depressing thoughts. Cooper unbuckled and hugged me. On his own. Un-requested. He just did it. And that’s pretty much a first. He even touched my tears. How’s that for empathy.
And I wonder…is this it. 5 million terrible moments followed up by 1 hug and 1 kiss. Is that what I get? Should I be thankful for that?
I don’t know the answer.
What I do know is that he starts school tomorrow. And picture day is Monday. And it’s all going to be terrible. And I am going to wallow in my own self pity for a few days and grieve the first day of school I wish we could have had. I’m going to be sad and push people away and be alone on pity party island.
And I am going to bitch about filling out questionnaires about Cooper because no, I can’t describe my severely autistic child in 5 sentences. And yes I STRUGGLE TO DESCRIBE MY KID IN 3 WORDS when they aren’t ‘autistic, nonverbal, and frustrated.’ And yes, I don’t know what his likes are beside trains. And I don’t care what you work on this year. Just help us.
And I am going to cry as I pull out baby pictures of Cooper to create his ‘about me’ board for school.
I’m going to allow myself to be sad for a few days.
And then I’m going to pull it together and fix my shit. In the meantime though you can find me in my bed with a glass of wine binge watching Gilmore Girls.