We’ve all heard the phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees” I am sure. If not, or even if you have and don’t quite know what that means it’s a pretty useful concept. The phrase means that you get so focused on one object (the tree) that you don’t see the bigger picture (the many trees around it that make up the forest). Simple right?
When you care for someone who has such particular needs, and they tend to stay the same for long periods of time, you get stuck in this scenario. You only see what you are certain they want, because that is simply what they’ve wanted for the last six months or year, or lifetime. To this day I still fall for it.
When Monkey was about three years old there was a long period of time where I had to walk out a specific door if I wanted to leave the house. You could see the front door and the french doors from the same room. Despite their closeness there was something about going out the french doors that just wasn’t allowed. Now by not allowed I don’t mean he would come up and be a little bothered or maybe cry a little. It was a full-out tantrum that would last long after I left (so the baby sitter told me). It was one of the first things that really brought to our attention that something was different about Monkey. We had our suspicions at the time but we didn’t really know quite yet. The situation was definitely beyond all reason, but his mother and I’s sense of denial hadn’t quite been defeated yet. That’s a whole other post to make though. Long story short, I walked out the french door one day. Nothing happened. I got half way to work before I realized it too. In a panic I remember calling to apologize to the sitter in case I caused her grief over Monkey throwing a fit. I mean that had to have happened right?? Turns out not. After roughly two weeks of seeing if he would just stop caring (and learning he wouldn’t), and then another six months of just making it standard practice not to use that door, it had ended.
In the door situation I found out the phase was over by accident. Who knows when he really stopped caring which door I used. Fast forward 10 years and I find myself a little wiser than yesterday (all be it not by much) and I pick up on something that had been causing issues all through August, September, and part of October this year. In my previous posts I discuss how we were battling the effects of changing his medicine for aggression and what turned out to be possible depression. Now the meds had been a big part of it I have no doubt. However, even after the meds were changed I started to notice the aggression was gone, but not the constant pacing around the house. I mean this kid would be up all day long, and moving from one room to the next nonstop. Only at bedtime would he stay put and chill out in his bed. My patience had truly been tested by month three of this ordeal.
So the meds are changed and the aggression is gone, but man this kid just wont stay put. He went from only wanting to be in his room, and refusing to spend time in the living room with us peasants to constantly being out of his room and eventually not even staying in the house. For safety alone this had become a concern. The neighbors are looking at me like I am crazy as I chase a Monkey down the sidewalk with no shoes on yelling “will you just get back in the damn house?”. It is bad enough to even imply kids should have rules now-a-days let alone yelling at a disabled child who keeps getting outside. Little do they know or realize there’s only so many times you can have a kid run out on you when you simply try to go to the bathroom before you start losing you patience. Not only is his safety a concern but I promise you it gets old to have a wandering Monkey that simply wont let you cook, clean, or be human in your own home.
Why wont this kid just hang out?
What the hell is wrong with the room he spent so much time in for so many years?
Do we smell funny? Is the cooking that bad?
So I recruit Mater. His opinion on the subject is maybe he doesn’t like us. Worth the thought. I mean how long can you be stuck around the same people before you just figure screw these people? I could see that. But it didn’t sit right. I mean he always didn’t like us. I went from begging him to sit on the couch or be anywhere near us to the kid being all over me and bolting for the door every time I blink. Is there no God!? What the hell is so wrong with the house. First the room…. now the whole house?
Ahhh…. he didn’t like us before. That’s right! He didn’t want to spend time with us at all year after year.
The room! He wants his own space, and he wants it in his room.
I didn’t see the forest. I was so involved with the slow changes taking place. It made sense. Fix the meds and now he is happier. After being happy he decided to be around us. I was arrogant enough to think we were good enough for him. Haha! Twas not the case. Could it be all coincidence??
So I get out my pipe and hat and get to some detective work.
He hated our company as always…. Check!
We changed his meds because he got so much bigger since we started them, and therefore they had no effect on him. Made sense… Double check!
He slowly hung out with us as he wandered around the house…. not so much sense… hmmm. No check (shifty eyes begin)
Then he decided that our general vicinity was appalling and began bolting for the door. Well, he doesn’t like us so big fat check. Makes sense!!
Neighbors now think I am crazy…. might make sense!?
He tried to like us and just couldn’t bring himself to do it. Now we are back to making sense. He bolts for the door because there is nowhere to be that he is comfortable….ahhh… holy shit… CHECK!!
His mother and I thought it was so stupid that the doctor saw him weeks before his last seizure (the signal that meds weren’t having an effect for seizures or aggression) and didn’t stop to think about how much bigger he is and therefore needed higher doses of meds. Now I still can’t say that we’re impressed by the doctor as that is kind of their profession, but my problem was similarly attached to his size change. I made sure his room catered to him. Over the years I have learned to cope with the fact he wants solitude. It hurts at times but I get it. What I didn’t get was that his room was set up to be comfortable for a boy who was 80 pounds soaking wet. Not 130 pounds and a foot and a half taller.
Dear Watson.. I mean Mater… I’ve got it!
His room wasn’t comfortable! Not at all. Bouncing on the mini trampoline and sitting on his bed was fine when he was just a little guy, but now he is a young man. He doesn’t have anywhere to sit, and nowhere to really move in his room. Toys are everywhere. Spongebob stuffed animals covered the nightstand. He had no room. So I get rid of the stuffed animals, move the night stand in to the closet so I can still get to his diapers. Shove the bookshelf over by his TV and mount the TV above it on the wall. With very little change he had way more floor space and oddly enough…room to move. Now for comfort. What to do here? I mean I’m not gonna fit a couch in there but he needs something.
I get to parent teacher conferences at his school and his teacher and I go back and forth talking about the changes he has been going through. She can see that I am not myself. I mean we always talk throughout the year and we keep in contact about how he is and what he will and wont eat for lunch etc. I’m sitting there telling his teacher that I am finding myself at my wits’ end for the first time in my life. I mean I really don’t know what to do. My whole life is my babies. I moved the room around and made space. Got the kid a bean bag chair in lieu of a couch. Yet he still wont really chill. I still can’t take a leak or make dinner because he is everywhere. Then I look over and see what looks like a folded up hammock hanging from the ceiling in his classroom. His teacher notices and tells me that it’s a cuddle swing.
Hmmm. He would like something like that. It must cost a fortune. All this special needs stuff tends to cost an arm and a leg. I ask anyhow. Turns out this isn’t the case, on top of that he apparently LOVES this thing. Only a couple hundred bucks? I mean that’s not cheap, but it gives him a hammock he can swing on in his own room. It lets me go to the bathroom and cook dinner maybe? His only joy at the park is the swings and he loves to be wrapped up tight. Eureka we have the solution! It was the cherry on top to making him the perfect room for his size and needs. Bean bag chair as any hippy teenage would want and now a swing that will wrap him up tight that he can get in and out of on his own.
The whole time I am dealing with each day. Each situation. One at a time. Couldn’t see the forest for the trees. The kid needed somewhere to be, and eventually that became outside because sitting on the living room furniture with us rejects wasn’t gonna do. You get so engulfed in every day with a child like him that you focus on what you learned in the past. In the process you begin to circle yourself likes a shark in the water just spinning round and round with no way out in sight. Always take a step back. When you find yourself beating your head against the wall, and the situation progresses in the wrong direction it would be my advice that you may just need to….take a step back… and see what’s really happening to cause it. Struggling to make sure he is safe is always my goal, but in this case I could have saved a lot of time, and maybe kept some neighbors from thinking I am losing it, if I just would have realized exactly what we dissed the doctor for not realizing. Things had changed. His surroundings needed to do the same. The forest for the trees.
There are many people who may benefit from this awesome cuddle swing as well. If you know someone who could, or you could yourself, check them out. Many sizes for different weights. One thing I would suggest if you are handy is to save some money on the mounting hardware. They do tend to get the price up there once you need the mounting brackets and linkage etc. Instead (and if you are handy) take a 4×6 and spread it across the rafters and use a simple carriage bolt with an eyelet on the end. Drop it through a hole in the ceiling and boom… something to mount a swing on. If not the brackets are there to purchase but it never hurts to save a few bucks. The links below can direct you to amazon.com where they are sold. So no shifty sites that we can’t trust required. Same brands as the school uses too so they are durable and have been proven to handle use over long periods of time.
School Specialty Fabric Cuddle Swing up to 200 lbs
Also for lighter children that like to swing or rock they have a smaller sized one that comes with the hardware.
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