Months ago, when Martin was having more trouble sleeping—if you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember this—I would sometimes draft posts during those long midnight hours, sitting in his room with an iPad. To myself, I called it “exhaustion posting,” and I knew it wasn’t a good idea. When it’s 3:00 a.m. and I’ve slept eight hours during the past 72, it doesn’t matter how much progress we’ve made overall or how bright the future looks. I will have nothing nice to say.
I’m about to do something else that the reasonable part of my brain (the part that gets overshadowed, often) knows is not a good idea. Let’s call it “frustration posting.”
Why am I frustration posting when I know I shouldn’t?
Because I’m frustrated.
We’re in the dumps again. Crapsville. The Land of No Focus. The State of Bad Digestion. Obsession City.
When Adrian and I returned from vacation last week, Martin’s symptoms were, I thought, more pronounced than when we’d left. I concocted several explanations—change in routine without school, anguish at wondering if his parents would return, a stale supplementation routine—that allowed for easy solutions.
We’ve been home now six days. So far, the easy solutions have failed. (I’ll admit that I have not yet updated the supplementation. I have a call scheduled for Thursday to discuss that with Martin’s excellent Track Two doctor.) Martin’s belly is distended. He has diarrhea. He’s scratching. And the behavioral symptoms have become yet more pronounced.
Getting Martin fed and ready for school this morning was like weaving a basket from cooked spaghetti. Nothing worked. He lacked the attention to put food in his mouth, absent constant nagging. He had no language to express what he sought and reverted instead to “You wan’ you wan’ you wan, I wan’ I wan’,” without object or variation. He refused to stand long enough to get his pants down for the toilet, or to don a jacket for the New York winter; when I tried to accomplish those tasks, he threw himself against me or fell to the floor. Adrian, who takes Martin down to meet the school bus, later reported that Martin had been unable to engage in even simple conversation like providing his teacher’s name.
This evening was worse. Evenings used to be the most difficult part of my day, because as Martin grew tired, he grew unmanageable, even less able to read my signals or control himself. I thought those days were over. Today he arrived at 5:30 p.m. with a babysitter, utterly hyperactive, laughing without obvious reason, jumping on the sofa, darting from chair to stair to table. At 6:15, when the babysitter prepared to leave, Martin began screaming because she zipped her vest. That’s a special new highlight, this fixation on zippers. Once the poor sitter managed to escape, from 6:15 until bedtime was a near-unmitigated scream-and-cry fest, punctuated only by bites of dinner and senseless verbal demands. “You wan’ bath. You wan’ not bath. No. No. No. You wan’ counter. Mommy is coming back. She’s coming back. You wan’ go outside. Outside.” Every chance he got, he grabbed my cardigan and yanked the zipper down or pushed it up until it caught my hair or the skin of my neck. He left his plate and ran around. He slunk from chair to floor and refused to rise.
When I finally got him into bed he tried to insist on wearing the tight winter vest over his pajamas.
I probably should have indulged him. Instead I refused. Scream-and-cry fests diminish my empathy. Insofar as scream-and-cry fests are symptoms of something amiss within Martin, they should cause the opposite, i.e., a flood of empathy. In the world of reason, that would happen. In the world of frustration, it does not.
So there you have it. The bad with the good.
Right now I’m telling myself that we turned the tide in late November and early December, and that we can do so again now.
Right now I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow.
Right now I’m trying to breathe.