I can’t honestly tell you whose hard time this is actually, whether it’s mine or J’s, but they seem so intertwined at this point it feels impossible to separate them.

J’s behavior the past couple of weeks, as I think I have noted here before, has been off the charts. It’s been off the wrong side of the charts, too. It’s been bad. Screaming, crying, kicking, hitting, trying to break things, trying to break himself, meltdowns, the whole nine yards. This is not all happening at once at any given time but a lot of it does happen together or in succession.

Some of it is tiredness. This child is just 3 and he maintains a schedule not unlike a full-time adult going to a typical job. Some of this might be allergies, for he’s been congested and extremely sensitive to weather changes. I should pay better attention to this because his episodes with allergies happen generally when mine do. Some of this could be frustration with communication. He’s having a need and I am not understanding what that need is and therefore failing to help him fill it. Some of it could just be him being three. Some of it could be demonic possession. The list goes on and on.

The hardest part is the hurt that comes with this all. I bear the worst of his behavior. If he is going to lash out at anyone, it’s going to be me. He tries to break my things, smack my face, claw my ears and neck, pull my hair… Yet I know it’s not an intent to hurt. He’s trying to communicate and it’s coming out all wrong. I am the safe place, because mama is always there. Mama still loves him even after he’s been like this to her, so if he’s going to lose his last marble it’s going to be where he feels safest to do so. And all I can do a lot of the time these days is sit there helpless, because I don’t know what he needs.

We do deep pressure/massages. We do play time on the Yogibo, which has been a lifesaver to us. We do iPad activities or watch cartoons on it. I have him sit in a box squished in with pillows and stuffed animals while he watches to try to give him that pressure and comfort he craves. We do snacks and games and we try to use our pictures that his teachers helped me out with. We do a lot and it still comes up short these days.

This is what scares me. I know it shouldn’t, because in the grand scheme this slice of time is truly miniscule but the what ifs can overwhelm. What if I am losing my sweet boy and gaining a moody child prone to violence over the slightest thing? What if I can’t do this? What if I am not doing enough for him or worse, what if I myself am just not enough for him?

I mean, I do still very much see my little cuddlebear come out a lot. Yesterday, we worked on identifying emotions. I held up the page of pictures his teacher had sent home and we identified them each in turn… but he hung up at “silly”. Every time he got to “silly”, he said “Jacob”. Now, I thought it was because I kept calling him silly during the activity but then this morning, without hesitation, he did the same thing. He equates himself with silly. How can I not love that?

But how do you chase away the shadows that threaten to overwhelm, even in light of such sweetness? I don’t even know.

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A disclaimer: I write about the good and the bad not because I am about to have a massive mental break but because they’re the reality of life with J. I’m okay, I promise, and there is nothing I write about in this blog that I would not myself tell my son. I know he might one day read this and that some of it might be hard for him and I hope to be right there still holding his hand when that day might ever come.