Bowie’s different than most kids.
He’s super emotional and sensitive and he’s like that most of the time. And he’s been that way for most of his life.
His response in a fight or flight situation is always to fight.
We’ve been told over the years that it’s his SPD. He is much more easily annoyed by things that you and I can deal with, or just plain don’t notice. A breeze. An itchy underwear tag. The hum of a truck parked outside of his classroom. Bright lights. A ticking clock.
One of the things that really gets him going is when another overly energetic kid gets too close to him. Makes too much noise around him. Pokes at him in some way. And continues to do that after Bowie has asked them to stop, which we’ve fought so hard to tell him to do over the years.
Yesterday he hit a kid on the head with his lunchbox (which is metal, btw) for following him around the schoolyard after Bowie had asked him to leave him alone. He told us he didn’t see an adult that could help him, and in his own kid words he told us he did what he had to do.
To add insult to injury, this is a kid that is not in his class this year, but was in his Kindergarten class and his first grade class. A kid that he has a love-hate relationship with. Most of the time they’re buddies and get along great, but when this kid, one of the “overly energetic” types I mentioned, does something Bowie doesn’t like, Bowie responds violently.
He is the roughest with those he loves the most, but how do I explain that to this kid’s parents? And now, after two full years of explaining the whole SPD situation to them, and apologizing profusely after every incident, and doing my best damage control and sucking up to them and planning afterschool playdates so they can “learn to get along better”, it has happened AGAIN. More violent behavior.
There comes a time when sympathy for Bowie’s situation runs dry, and he’s just The Kid That Hurts Other Kids. It’s easy for us to tell him 100 times a day to think before he acts, but not so easy for him to actually do that.
He’s rough with us at home too. All three of us. And we take it, over and over again, because we are so familiar with how hard it is for him to navigate life. We’ve seen him at his most tender times, we know how sweet and loving he can be when he’s got the energy for it. But, most of the time, we generally just don’t like being around him. He feels the safest around us, so he lets all of his emotions run wild in front of us. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Unfortunately, those are the emotions he goes to first.
So, I’m starting to wonder, when is a kid just a difficult kid, and when do more drastic measures need to be taken?
He’s been in and out of occupational therapy for his SPD for years. And it helps him, it really does. But maybe he needs talk therapy. Maybe all those years of the adults in his life punishing him for just being himself has done some damage. Maybe it makes him depressed that there are kids at his school that are too afraid to play with him. Maybe he’s starting to turn some hatred inward because he’s so out of control of his own impulses.
All I know, is I remember the first time I laid eyes on him, and he lay in my arms so peacefully, just staring at my face as I cooed at him. So calm. I want to rewind and start over. Do it differently this time. Because surely it’s my fault that he’s like this now.
My sweet, quiet, calm boy is still there. I still see glimpses of it once in a while. But life has really got him down lately. And I don’t know what to do.