Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Life is an emotional work-out and some of us have to work so much harder

I love NBC’s Parenthood. It’s a well-written show with multiple plot themes and family that is far from perfect but full of love. If you haven’t watched the show, one of the characters is teenage Max. Throughout the course of the show we learn that Max has Asperger’s Syndrome and while sometimes the presentation is a bit dramatized in my opinion, other times it leaves me heaving with sobs. We are a little behind on our DVR, so the episode from March 20, 2014 is fresh in my mind.

Max, who is a young teenager, asserts his independence to go on an overnight field trip without his parents as a chaperone. My heart sunk for his mom and dad. He couldn’t tell them why he didn’t want them to come, just that he didn’t. When Little Miss M has a field trip I always go with her or make sure her one-to-one paraprofessional is with

her. We have yet to encounter overnight field trips, but I don’t think I could handle that at all! Anyway – long story short – Max’s teacher, portrayed as kind, understanding and empathetic, calls Max’s parents in the evening. Max had a meltdown, he was cursing and throwing himself and basically spiraled right out of control, then collapsed in the hotel lobby, leaving no solution but for his parents to pick him up. They go, he immediately gets up and goes with them to the car and refuses to say why he got so upset. They are about half way home when he finally lets it out. A boy urinated in his canteen. The kids were laughing at him, teasing him, and bullying him. He goes on to say how hard he works to understand why the kids thinks he strange, and finally came to the realization that his must be. Tears were rolling down my face as his TV mom climbs into the backseat to comfort him and his TV dad fights back tears to keep driving. It left me wondering about that world out there.

I was seriously bullied in middle-school, but I understood what was happening. I was able compartmentalize and rely on my true friends. I understood emotions, feelings and was able to both talk about them and process them. I worry about my girl. She works so hard to understand emotions. Every day is “Mommy, how are you feeling today?” or “Mommy is mad; Mommy are you mad at me?” One of the most beautiful things about Little Miss M is that she believes everyone is her best friend. She loves with her whole heart and doesn’t understand when someone doesn’t want to embrace her or dance with her, or be a part of her world. At only eight years old, she hasn’t really encountered a lot of ugliness or bullying. The kids are very protective of her at this stage, but I know this is around the corner – and it scares me.

The best I can do is keep loving her, telling her how good she is, how smart she is. We talk all the time about how she has to work harder than a lot of other people. We talk about how it’s okay to ask for help. We talk in circles some days, we try to help her regulate and to understand that the world revolves around a lot of things. And then days like today happen. A day where we were running perfectly on time for theater class, and then to her horror there was so much congestion in downtown New Haven, that what usually takes no more than five minutes for parking, took a whopping thirty minutes. She was sobbing, self-soothing, and kept telling me that she knew it wasn’t my fault but she was so angry. My heart broke and there was nothing I could do, but tell her that it was okay and in the end it was – but the poor little thing.

Amanda has always taken on the role of protector, but knows the importance of letting her daughter find her way.

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