Guess what? I have a present for you; aren’t you excited? Open your womb and pull it out!
It’s a boy!
(Or, a girl. For me, I can only make boys).
He looks just like both of you! You look at each other fondly. Tiredly, but happily; proudly.
The best part of this present, though, is yet to be opened for a few years. You may not notice for a while, because no child is perfect. Every time an issue arises, or you feel frustrated, commiserating people say, “That’s just normal.”
But, where are those comments when you sit across from a preschool director and hear about your son defiantly looking right at his teachers as he pushes a child off the play equipment?
What do they say when his first grade planner has notes from the teacher of escalating issues? Notes like, “He threw a chair,” “He was biting.”
Only Pavlov’s dog empathizes with the increased heart rate and anxiety your body undergoes when you see the school calling again.
You can’t go far; the school might be calling.
You know, secretly, that you’ve actually produced a monster. In fact, an applicable example in classical literature is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
A great side benefit? Teachers, administrators, and doctors keep hinting -and outright telling you- that the problem is you.
You already know you were the root problem, if you birthed the child. You already blame yourself whenever he misbehaves, since your grassroots efforts of parenting don’t produce robot responses from your children.
It’s all true, though: you made the monster. And, as his parents, you will always be the ones who will need to fight for him.
You’re going to be embarrassed, frustrated, deeply saddened, angry, ignorant, and human. You’re going to do the wrong thing, and smack yourself figuratively for “triggering” the behaviors.
You’ll wonder how this ungainly bird could ever be expected to leave the nest without leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
Cry. Get angry. Eat chocolate.
Then, find a good pediatrician. Find a good therapist. Find people to complain to. Find the free resources out there for others like you.
You’ll have to start using those over-used terms. You know -the ones you rolled your eyes about: ADD, ADHD, ODD, Autism, Sensory Disorder.
Embrace them. They’ll be your new excuse, now that you can’t use “normal” to describe childhood behavior.
This is one of those gifts like a free car: the car may be free, but the taxes, licensing, and insurance are not. You’re going to have to do more than unwrap.
You’re going to have to be an expert parent.