Monday, December 8, 2014

a prisoner of mood swings

We have been having some really great days with 8 yo. No, we have not changed anything that I can say. Daddy has been around a bit more, and they have been horsing around a bit more, but not in any new way. We have not started any medication, supplements or therapy. We have not cut out gluten (although I do try to avoid food coloring and extra sugar, but I am not strict about it). Anyway, it has been almost gloriously smooth.

Until today.

Today we were supposed to go to the nature center for a homeschool day. We have been in the past, and I always wonder how much schoolwork to plan on a day like this. On one hand, it's a field trip, and I get quite tired from it to do anything extra. On the other hand, I find the kids are sitting around, when they could be learning or reviewing something. So I decided to keep it to a minimum.

10 yo was learning mishna right after shacharit, and then I asked him to do one page of math. For 8 yo, who also went to shul, I asked him to do math only, hoping that if my husband comes home early enough, they can do some chumash. 10 yo shrugged and proceeded to math. 8 yo dramatically dropped to the floor, and laid there,  motionless.

Now this was going on as my daughter was pulling out large scissors and glue stick for her project, and 1 yo was diligently dumping books off the bookshelf. I still had to pack our lunch. I had it all laid out, it just had to be placed into the cooler backpack. I knew that if I focused on 1 yo, and read him a book, he would stop, I knew that 4 yo wanted me to read to her, too, only 1 yo kept yanking that book out of my hands. I was getting upset that 8 yo balked at one school thing that he was assigned. Meanwhile, 10 yo was having difficulty with his math, and also needed help.

I found myself helplessly sitting at the table, yelling at 4 yo having scissors where 1 yo can get them, yelling at 10 yo rounding off answers and not showing his work, yelling at 8 yo for being so darn freaking dramatic and not even trying. It might be hard to explain what it feels like to be held hostage by a child's unpredictable mood.

In the end, he sulked off to his room to do his math, 10 yo did not even finish his one page, and I forgot to grab my cellphone. We were running late, and 1 yo was screaming. I shushed and shushed kids in the car, even though they were not doing anything objectively objectionable. We barely made it.

Today's homeschool class involved a Starlab, an inflatable dome onto which the night sky is projected. I knew it was meant for kids ages 5 and up, but I was not sure whether my daughter would stay. (For the purists, she will be five in a month, so this is a technicality). She chose to stay with her brothers to go inside the dome while I took 1 yo out in a stroller to see the beaver in his enclosure.

Later, the kids came out and even did the little prepared crafts. 8 yo was concerned about making a "holiday" craft, which involved pinpricking the stars in a printed constellation and then decorating a frame with nature objects such as acorns, tiny pine cones, seeds and leaves. I said that I do not feel that there is anything wrong with making such a craft.

As the kids were working at various stations, a staff member came up to tell me how much 8 yo knew about the stories of the constellations. I assumed he meant 10 yo, the master talker, but he said, no, the younger one. I asked 8 yo where he learned all these stories; I certainly do not recall teaching him any, or him reading up on the subject matter. He reminded me of the astronomy class he took at the coop last year. Yeah, I definitely do not give this kid enough credit...

Then we drove home, and the math was still looming. 10 yo sat down and did his one problem, incorrectly. Then he moved on to his mishna homework. 8 yo went back to complete meltdown. I told him to step outside. His best response was, Hashem made a mistake in creating me. I said, Hashem does not make mistakes, and you have to be the best kid that you can be.

Soon, it was time to leave for taekwondo. I told the boys to bring their schoolwork, and to do it there, while waiting for their class.10 yo brought his mishna, and the second volume of Harry Potter. Harry Potter won. Meanwhile, 8 yo brought his math binder over. We ended up doing it after his class. He finished the whole page, with very minimal help, in five minutes. As we completed it, I asked, were your fits worth it? He responded, no, and that he is sorry for his behavior.

So here I am, a hostage to my child's moods. I know that I should be a wise parent, rising above such hiccups, I know that I should take a deep breath, hold it together, stay calm and reassuring. But I also know that there is no rhyme or reason to these fits. Today can be horrible, and tomorrow can be sunny. Today can be peachy, and tomorrow the world will be coming to an end. Today I can plan, and carry out, and tomorrow everything will get scrambled. I am flexible, but this is taxing beyond basic flexibility.


  1. Have you had him evaluated for bi-polar?

    I feel your pain. My 3 year old is the same way. Only his are acts of danger, some days we are fine others I feel like I am constantly trying to stop him from hurting himself.

    1. For that, we need a child psychiatrist, and those tend to be few and far in between ( and prefer not to take insurance). We talk about lifting the stigma of mental illness, but instead we end up waiting till it gets "bad enough".

    2. I so agree with you. I am getting my son evaluated and my insurance won't even cover it. Thank God we have HSA from my husband's job, but the fact that out of pocket I must pay 165.00 is so sad. That's just for the eval, I don't know what follow up therapy will cost. I daven things get easier for you and you are able to find a psychiatrist that will take both insurance and children.

    3. BTW I'm not sure how this works in other states, but my friend let me know, if the doctor finds out that my son does need therapy, aka gets a diagnosis, he automatically gets medicaid which will cover the TSS coming to the house. Maybe see if that could work for your situation as well.