I cannot explain how humbling it is when others see your child acting up. We have been struggling with this ever since Akila started to walk and talk. The stares, the sideways looks, the comments. I don't just mean from strangers, I mean from family, neighbors, friends, professionals, and strangers. Nobody wants their child to act up ever, let alone in front of other people. It is always humorous when parents of young kids will apologize for their behavior or make excuses when their kids are just acting like typical toddlers. I want to say, you haven't seen anything yet honey-your kids an angel. Wait until Akila gets home.
When she was little, she was just "spirited" as many people would say. High energy mixed in with a little bit of naughty. Nothing too nutty. But as she got school age, the behaviors worsened. She has given us several tongue lashings in public, at stores or other places like that. We look like a couple of wimpy parents as it is best to not respond to her when she gets all worked up.
We had a young woman in her early 20's here a few months ago who didn't really know us well or understand Akila. She was witness to Akila going off on Michael when I was gone, and it was obvious she was in shock that he would "let" his child talk to him the way she was talking. She wasn't talking actually, she was screaming hysterically and swearing.
So for 12 years we have been trying hard to not worry about what other people think, but it is impossible to do this entirely. We wash our hair and try to dress nicely each day as we are concerned about or image to a certain extent, so it makes sense to a certain extent that we worry about what other people think. But it is important to not be consumed with what others think and see, and this is something we are pretty good at. As a matter of fact, the last several years, we kind of get a good kick out of it when someone witnesses something that is really crazy.
One of my favorite stories is when from about a year ago or so when we were going to our church for family pictures. This is quite the ordeal with getting the girls hair done freshly within a few days of the picture date and getting Michael home in time for the appt. After much stress to get out the door, we get to the church and can't find what room the pictures are being done in. We run into our Executive Pastor and ask him if he knows where they are. He takes his laptop out of his briefcase to look it up and sits down at the info desk. He finds the info, and we are at the wrong campus (our church has 3 campuses, downtown Mpls, Arden Hills and Burnsville). As he tells us this, Akila lays down on the floor and yells really annoyingly, "Jesus Christ!!!"
Michael and I just looked at each other, and tried not to burst out laughing. He didn't say anything about it, and we just left. And the funniest part, is that she has never before that, and never after that, used that phrase when upset. If that had happened 4 or 5 years ago or more in our FASD parenting journey, we probably would have been mortified. Now, we laugh at these things often.
But a new struggle I have been having in the past year, or certainly the past 6 months, is how she has been showing her really aggressive side to others which she has always conserved for us in the past. When she was in the crisis home, I was relieved that she was raging (to show some people that we are not the cause of her raging), yet it also felt awful that she was lashing out physically at others. Yet, I knew it was kind of expected, or at least something that happens fairly often there, and they are equipped to handle it.
Then in January, she went off on the OT we had just started to see, which was embarrassing. Her therapist who has been working with her since mid-October, has seen plenty. She works with Akila in school once a week and at home once a week. Since November, the therapist has seen plenty of verbal aggression and bad attitude stuff. Then in January, she got to see Akila smacking on me. Several times during the home sessions, she has seen Akila in a bad mood talking smack.
Last night the therapist was scheduled. Imani had a play at school we were going to watch so the boys and I ran errands after school and had L, the awesome new PCA, pick Akila up and bring her home to an empty home to hang out. We went out to dinner before the play. So the therapist and the PCA were here together with Akila.
Then today, L was texting me that it was really uncomfortable when Akila smacked the therapist in the face. Oh my. New level of embarrassment. New level of grief. I didn't find this out until this evening, and I left the therapist a voicemail apologizing. She is great, and I know she doesn't blame us by any means, but it is still embarrassing. Last week I asked the therapist if she has any other kids like Akila, and she said "No", right away. She acknowledged how none of the things she can do make a dent in Akila's thinking patterns and behaviors. She knows this, and I appreciate that about her.
When Akila was with a respite provider who is African American, she called her the "N" word. Embarrassing. Mortifying. You know there has to be some part of this woman who wonders if we have used that term in our house. She does not understand FASD at all, so I am sure she is probably thinking that.
I know I should not worry about what others think of us. I know that I use to be one who judged others, all the time as a matter of fact. It is one thing to have your child throw a tantrum in a store. Or to call you a name or even swear at you in a store. It is one thing to have your child smacking you daily and calling you every name in the book. It is a whole other thing to have your child smacking other people. It brings me to my knees each night, pleading for mercy. Pleading for a solution. Pleading for Akila.
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