The ADHD Circus

WARNIG: Raw emotion to follow. A mothers darkest place. If you are a flowers and unicorns parent….. don’t read. You will hate me.
In this moment I hate my children. Like really HATE them . Or at least I think I do. As a mum I know I don’t. I know that by the time I have finished my rant I will be  feeling all crap for even daring to think anything less than rainbows and unicorns about my children. But right now………! So . Indulge me.
So I just took the 3 boys out to a rocky beach with a playground, a  skate ramp and a flying fox. We packed a picnic and took the scooters and off we went. Within 5 mins of being there the arguing started. Toru started screaming at me because Tahi was having a turn on HIS scooter(as organised) When trying to calm him I was sworn at and told endlessly to shut up.(very typical behaviour Toru. I suspect he is on the spectrum and we are waiting for a diagnosis) I put him in time out. Then Tahi and Rua started fighting over a swing. Physically fighting. I offered up my swing and walked away. Soon Rua followed demanding that I discipline Tahi for hurting him in the fight. I ignored him and told him we were leaving. Eventually with all of them in the car we went to leave. As I went to pull out we saw a pod of Orca. maybe a dozen of them. Some people had gathered with cameras and were filming them as they ducked and dived through the ocean. It was stunning. As I tried to engage the boys in the magnificence of it all…it started up again. Yelling and screaming at each other they started throwing rocks at each other (big fucking rocks) . Of course as usual in all of these situations everyone stopped and stared at the circus that has become my life. Tahi ran screaming into the car to get away from Rua, who had a mighty rock in his hand and was trying to bash Tahi’s head with it. Tahi was quick enough to lock the front door of the car but not the passenger side. In this moment I was scared of 2 things. Scared that Rua would either throw the rock and smash a windscreen( mine or someone else’s ) or smash Tahi’s head so hard he would give him a brain injury. So of course I am desperately yelling at Rua to drop the rock as he climbed into the back of the car and threw it as hard as he could at Tahi. And the Orca ducked and dived in the beautiful ocean. And yet all eyes were on the boys and I. There is fucking ORCA whales out there!!! What an amazing thing to see; and my boys choose to spaz out at each other. FOR FUCK SAKES!!!! Fortunately  Tahi wore the rock on his back. Not his head. I got into the car and drove off.

The rage of  years of this having bubbled to my surface. NO MORE. No more being told by dept store managers that the boys need to be quiet or we will have to leave as I try on a much-needed pair of jeans and leave my ADHD child with his smallest and most easily overstimulated brother in the chairs of the fitting rooms. No more having to break up a fight within 5 mins of being at a BBQ with people I have not seen for years. Whose children all seem to function in the realms of normal and basically are dignified small people. No more being told by the after school care that if they can’t find an effective way to manage each boy they will not be able to look after them ….thus effecting my ability to study and work. No more trying to stop Rua from kicking down Tahi’s bedroom door IN FRONT OF THE LANDLORDS after being goaded endlessly by him for hours before.No more fighting over friends when we attempt to host playdates.  NO more blood. No more bruises;On them OR ME!! No more being told I’m hated because I didn’t protect Rua from Tahi. No more being told by Tahi that he wants to live somewhere else because the families problems are all his fault. No more having to leave shops because all of the mirrors and bright lights send Toru in a frenzy of excitement, dancing and overstimulated noise making. NO MORE STRANGERS STARING AT THE CIRCUS OF OUR LIFE.

And in the that car, as we drove away from those Orca, years and years of this EXPLODED. I yelled and screamed so hard I was spitting with rage in the car. I called them every name under the sun and took away every possible privilege I could think of, short of life itself. I ranted and raved and spat and boiled like a madwoman. I screamed till my throat hurt and it sent me into a fit of coughing. I showed them the darkest anger I have. I let them see their worst mother. And I will say…. in that moment….I wanted to HURT them. I wanted them to FEEL my rage. My despair and frustration. My loneliness and shame. My isolation.Because this IS isolating.
I am so fed up with hearing the well-meaning words of   ” I don’t know how you do it?!” *translation= fuck..your kids are mental. I’d kill them or run away*.
” Wow..I feel sorry for you”* Translation=  I feel sorry for you. Please let my pity for you be of comfort *.
” They are SO full on” * No shit  Sherlock*…
and ” You’re an AMAZING Mum” * Translation=  I don’t know what to say to you so here is a band-aid. It has nice things on it*.
And for the love of god…DO NOT TELL ME it’s just “boys being boys” Cos it’s not. ADHD is NOT NORMAL. It’s boys being assholes. Period!!
It’s all just a reminder of how different we are. . It feeds my anxiety about the boys. My shame. Because I do feel shame. I often feel pride in them  too…and in these moments I feel shame.  Perhaps if you feel the need to  say something…think hard before you speak. What are you ACTUALLY saying?. When you see  a couple of kids making a lot of noise..but HAPPY noise…instead of telling them to be quiet…try and distract them or ask the MUM if she needs anything else. Tell her its great to hear such happy children. If you see a mum trying to get in and physically break up fight and is struggling…HELP HER. In what ever way seems obvious. Most likely separate the fighters. I always appreciate a warm smile from a stranger. A smile that tells me they SEE us. That perhaps they have been there. A small reassuring nod..’You’re doing good Mum. Stand your ground.’ Engage the children. SEE them . Laugh with them . Help them .Show them. It really does take a village to raise a child. And solo parenting is very lonely at times.

As predicted having ranted I feel better. My blood is no longer at boiling point and I feel ready to go and talk calmly to my Tahi and Rua who have been sent to their rooms for the night. I am choosing not to apologise for the way I raged in the car. I so often apologise to them for my emotional reactions in fear I am a shit parent. That if I don’t show them remorse they wont ever understand it. But I am so sick of comparing my parenting to the expected PC parenting for ‘normal’ children. My boys are not. They are firecrackers. They are passionate, strong-willed,dedicated , articulate, focussed and soo many other wonderful things…that if I can just get them through their childhood with some basic understanding of what is right and wrong….they will be bright lights indeed. I know they will.So I gotta go and feed THAT fire now.

Now go give your Mother a hug. She bloody deserves it!!!

AM I REALLY A CHILD ABUSER?

children

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of child abuse in the developed world.
On May the 16th 2007 The Anti Smacking Bill was passed by the New Zealand government( not without public protest). This was to enable the system to have a black and white law that could actually have some pull with child abusers. If you are not allowed to smack your child by law..then you have NO EXCUSE as to why your child is battered, bruised, brain-damaged or Dead. YOU MAY NOT SMACK YOUR CHILD. PERIOD! If you are found to be abusing a child…your sorry ass is going to be charged and punished appropriately because the justice system has finally been set up to do so.

Recently I received a phone call from New Zealand’s Child Welfare Dept. Aka: CYFS.  Having recieved third party information a notification had been put through to them by someone who was concerned for my children. CYFS followed this up and felt that although they are not concerned for my children, I will need to go through a process with them, most likely resulting in my doing a parenting course. I yell at my children. I swear in front of them. But the  biggie is that I have  used soap in their mouths. I don’t hold them down and ram a giant bar of sunlight soap in their gob. I give them a choice. Either you do it yourself or I will do it for you. They always choose to do it themselves and I am always satisfied that after they have licked the bar , I have bought another 3 mths of non potty mouth.I was not aware that  this is considered abuse.
In the eyes of the law I have abused my children. For this, I feel a great sense of shame and inadequacy. If this country has any chance of getting the people who abuse children horrifically, then this law needs to be in place. What I want to raise is what happens for those of us that get caught in the crossfire?. Where is the line and why don’t we know about it?

As a Mum I have done many things I am ashamed of. There are days it all gets too much. I remember one day Toru was just at me with screaming and tantrums. I had endured days of it. I was done. In mid tantrum one day I snapped. He was standing at one end of the hallway and I boiled at the other. Before I could even think about it I was charging him like a bull. I stopped in front of him put my face in his and ROARED like an angry as fuck Lioness. Everyone stopped. I felt much better.
I am forever beating myself for not handling my boys better. For not being more patient with my high maintenance Tahi. For yelling more than I would like to.The more I have shared my current situation with people these last few days, the more I have learned that I am the normal story. SOOO many of my peers are guilty of the same things. Feeling the same shames and frustrations and often just as overwhelmed. Always comparing themselves to the parents they think are doing just great.Turns out a good few of us have resorted to the soap bar. I am the common Mum.

I have heard a few stories of people getting caught up in the system. Sometimes during a messy separation. Sometimes by an angry and vengeful teenage child.Sometimes by a witness who have only seen half the story. But a good few stories of people like me. People who are by no means perfect. People who should not be slapped with the label of ‘Child Abuser’.
When the anti-smacking bill was passed Tahi was 1. He was just a baby and I didn’t spare much thought for what was being passed. I knew that I disagreed with it but I just didn’t GET IT. From what I remember and understand of it there were many protests by many parents who feared that it would be exactly as it is.  Now …I GET IT!! I wonder how it is that this bill was passed without the support of a nation? I wonder how much money this bill has cost the nation in investigations and compulsory Parental Courses for those of us that were just being parents in a moment of  weakness.. I wonder, what would it be like, had the Government decided to put a  nationwide survey  out looking for the common grounds in the reality of  parenting. Had they asked as a nation what WE thought abuse was. What we thought was a realistic legal expectation of us as parents. From there could the laws have been made? Could we have supported parents by setting up courses, seminars, TV campaigns, ANYTHING to help  educate them on the new expectations  that have suddenly changed thousands of years disciplinary habits and give them the tools to do so? It may have cost a lot in time and money. But would it have saved us all in the long run? Would it not have created a national dialogue about what good functional parenting is. Warts and all. A place where we can share our reasonable shortfalls as parents with each other and not fear it may put us in trouble with the powers that be. Create the village that raises the children rather than the village that pretends they have it all under control while behind closed doors they are forever beating themselves up because today they broke the law.?

 Sometimes I think we treat our kids like they will always be children. That they are fragile and will be forever more. They are not. They are resilient. They are hopeful. And they will one day look at their childhood through the eyes of an adult that gets it.How many people do you know that say “Man, I pushed Mum to the limit when I was a kid.  She broke a total of 3 wooden spoons on my ass over the years. She was always frazzled but took no shit. I love my Mum. She is awesome!” Is my asking them to lick soap really going to change the course of their life? Are the school mornings littered with my yelling ” For fuck sake Tahi, clean your teeth! For the love of god put the toy down and go and clean your bloody TEETH!!” going to make him a meek and afraid of the world…or worse…a career criminal?  I wonder where the middle ground is?  Can we find a place to continue protecting our children as well as protect our parents and support them while they do the most challenging and relentless job known to man?