Sigh. We have been negligent bloggers. Not that it’s an excuse, but we had a pipe burst, our basement was flooded– not the part that is just cement, but the finished, carpeted part, naturally. Wolverine has a death rattle, the Kid is in a play with two roles, the Kid is in Spanish, the Kid wants to take karate, the Kid also wants to learn drums, and the Kid drinks about a gallon of milk a week on his own. That last one is relevant to the fact that I have to go to the grocery store more than once a week to make sure my 4’7″ first grader has enough to eat and drink because I am a poor planner and am in denial about the fact that he is eating as much as his father— and, thus I have had no time with which to blog. Also, I am reading 3 books at once for my 40 books in one year project. Surprisingly, it’s only January and I am already behind.
The other day The Kid said to me, “I’m tall.” Just like that. “Yep,” I said, “I bet you get sick of everyone telling you how tall you are?!” Then I said in a falsetto, “Kid, OMG, you’re so tall, I caaaaaannnnn’t beleeeeeeeive it” and he laughed at me. Which means a lot to me as the Kid is 7 going on tween. That was before I made him mad by telling him it was bedtime. I must be a horrible mother. god. motherhood has so much guilt with it.
I was just reading one of those research-driven, article on parent/child attachment. I am a little sensitive to the tone, which I take to be that as a parent you must form the perfect bond with your child or they will grow up maladjusted. It’s the kind of article that makes me want to shake a fist or two in the air. There is no doubt that attachment is important, and that the parent/child bond is the basis for relationships formed later in life, but none of us are perfection, and sometimes our kids, some of whom have autism, or other special needs, for instance, have attachment with their parents and they still act weird in social settings. It doesn’t mean that as a parent you’re effing up, it means your kid processes differently, or is nervous, and maybe, if you’re lucky you’ll have the opportunity to reassure him or her. But, if you don’t, or there isn’t a responsive adult around, your kid may not get the reassurance they need. The article didn’t really touch on kids with special needs at all, and I haven’t read the whole study to see if it even goes there, but I work hard to have a bond with my kid– since birth, and he has anxiety, and sometimes isn’t sure of himself. I think that ultimately it’s good to reinforce the idea that attachment from birth creates secure kids and later secure adults, but parents who have kids who have mental illness, special needs, etc., aren’t included in the generic assessments of these results.
In the 50s and 60s there were a few noted psychiatrists/psychologists who coined the term “refrigerator mother” in reference to mothers of children who had autism or schizophrenia. The children of refrigerator mothers, according to these so-called experts, were experiencing life through the autistic/schizophrenic filter, because of cold, unfeeling, detached mothers who provided no nurturing or bond. This has been totally refuted. But, to this day, some idiots still ascribe to this idea and instead of educating the public about how to accept the differences of a kid who has a neurological disorder, they take an easier, more popular route: Blame the Mother/Parents. Parents are expected to mediate with the whole world if their kid is “different.” I am not talking about the responsibility for parenting, I am talking about the expectation of the general public that parents of kids with special needs KNOW all their is to know about their kid’s particular disorder, that they know what doctors to go to, and how to treat it or cure it, that they should be able to control their kid if they melt down in public. In short, if their kid isn’t conforming, it’s the parents fault. That is a really slippery slope, and awfully, well republican, patriarchical, zealously religious, and asshole-oriented–to start judging people by the behavior of their kids who may or may not be exhibiting something obviously different about themselves, without knowing the details of their lives.
When The Kid was little he had any number of public meltdowns in restaurants, grocery stores, doctor’s offices, banks. Basically, he could go from 0 to screaming in 60 seconds if he was overstimulated. But, my daughter, who has cerebral palsy, and can’t talk, and can only use her left arm, and makes kind of high-pitched peals of laughter when someone makes a funny noise, or when she sits next to Wolverine, and likes to reach out and touch anyone and everyone, when she is excited, elicits the most stares, avoidance, hostility, fear, compassion…all emotions. We have received all ranges of responses from people occupying the same space as us and our screaming/laughing inappropriately, grabbing, wheelchair bound, hyper, spinning and jumping kids–from understanding and compassion, to unsolicited advice to, to hostile looks and confrontations that our child(ren) was/were disturbing their precious air space. Let me just say this to that last group: fuck you.
We work very hard to make sure our kids have good self-esteem, appropriate choices, education, stimulation, attachment to me and Wolverine, and attention. And if my kids aren’t perfect and it bothers you, please see above.