I'm not going to talk about decorating today. Today I wanted to share with you another part of my life. I hope you don't mind.
A few weeks ago I felt I had reached one of my lowest points ever. My son, who has only been at school for two and a half years, was suspended for the tenth time. Yet again I got a call at work to say 'please come and collect your son, we can't deal with him anymore today'. It was Monday morning. He was not to come back for the rest of the week. But this time it came with a new message "You may have to consider sending him to a new school or home schooling". And he only started at the school in February, after being asked to leave his last school.
By the time I left work and got to the school, my son had ran away, and I had to chase him through the streets to grab him. I then had to figure out how on earth I was going to care for him for the rest of the week, given I work full time.
My son, who can be the most charming, sweet and affectionate boy, has been diagnosed with oppositional defiance disorder. When he gets angry, he is uncontrollable, violent and self-destructive. It can happen at any time, over the smallest thing. A good friend of mine (you know who you are!) termed him 'Mr Fabulous or Mr Furious' and it is so true.
It has been breaking my heart to see my son not be able to function like other children and it has been affecting my job as I have had to take so much time off. I have felt helpless and hopeless. Questioning how I had failed as a parent.
My son's father and I have taken him to numerous psychologists, psychiatrists and other health experts over the last couple of years and to date, have spent thousands of dollars with very little results.
But finally, we have got some real help. We've been to see a fabulous counsellor who has been in daily contact with us, even visiting us at home on the weekends. He was with us for three hours on Saturday - now that's dedication! In the last week and a half we have made the following changes:
no tv or other electronic devices
constant parental presence
replacing punitive measures with 'sit-ins'. Based on the work of Haim Omer.
Additionally, I made the decision to remove all synthetic food additives from his diet - which is a challenge - even many brands of bread, yogurt and butter have preservatives these days!
It's been hard and exhausting to make these changes. The first couple of 'sit-in's with our son were harrowing experiences as we received the full blast of his rage. But in a short space of time, the difference in my son has been nothing short of amazing. A transformation. Mr Fabulous has come out to play and we've seen no sign of Mr Furious for the last six days. The people he's closest to are amazed to see this happy, relaxed boy. And Angus himself can see the changes and how much happier he feels.
I'm not saying that we don't have difficult days ahead of us. And the real test will be when he returns to school in two weeks time when the school holidays are over. However, we are setting him up for success by starting him with half days at school, with the remaining part of the day supervised by me or his dad. Luckily we have supportive bosses who are allowing us to work from home.
Right now I am allowing myself to feel hopeful. Hopeful, yet cautious. It's one day at a time. But I have seen a glimpse of the boy he can be.
I read a great quote recently on Creature Comforts, from Maria Robinson: "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending". I really hope that is what we are doing - moving forward, creating our own happy ending.
Thank you for reading our story.