March 27, 2010. I’m so proud of our boy. Despite our being branded recently as child abusers because the school psychologist needs a psychologist to help her work on impulse control and self-regulation, Peter continues to amaze. Yesterday he came home and threw a tantrum as soon as he walked in the door. He jumped up and down, screamed, held his breath while his body trembled, and then launched himself against the wall until I physically made him stop. None of this, of course, is amazing. What’s amazing is that he was later able to tell us why. On the heels of our accuser (as well as her enablers hovering in the wings) telling CPS that an additional reason they suspect child abuse is because we report substantially more negative home behaviors than they notice at school, Peter offers up an illuminating nugget of truth. Yesterday was Pirate Day, which apparently involved balls and pool noodles being launched and thrown about. Sounds fun for a typical group of third graders but not for Peter, who suffers from diagnosed and documented sensory issues. He asks to leave but one of his teachers tells him to tough it out. Two hours after the tantrum his mind is calm enough, and his body exhausted enough, to tell Lindy and me what happened. “They were throwing balls at me. I didn’t like it. They slapped me with noodles. It hurt. They hit my privacy and my head. I got scared. I’m sorry I had a fit on you, Mom.” A year ago he wouldn’t have been able to tell us why he fell apart, much less offer a teary, heartfelt apology. We would have coped with the tantrum and tried our best to move on, without learning anything about what precipitated it. But now he’s beginning to recognize what sets him off and he asked a teacher for help. It’s an amazing breakthrough for Peter, evidence of a neural connection he’s previously never demonstrated. Lindy and we have been working on this skill for years and payday has finally arrived. Eureka! I’m so proud of him. He knows he’s done well and smiles from ear to ear, hopping and clapping his hands. He’s proud too. The acid rain on this otherwise sunny parade is the fact that we are desperate to teach him that we’re there to help – that adults can help – if he only finds the courage, focus and self-awareness to ask. Unfortunately, he did ask but was ignored. He internalized what to him was akin to physical assault, held the pain inside so his classmates wouldn’t see, and then expelled it like the poison it was as soon as he got home, where he felt safe. There are so many important lessons here that it’s hard to tease them apart. First and foremost, Peter is growing – emotionally, intellectually and in terms of trust and attachment. Second, the school has shown us once again that its neither equipped nor inclined to meet his needs. If these folks aren’t watching their Ps and Qs now, on the heels of our recent CPS fiasco, an event they surely appreciate has exposed them to numerous repercussions, how can we hold out hope that they can ever be rehabilitated? And last? Its time we start teaching Peter to recognize which adults in his life want to help and which do not. Right now he thinks all adults are good and on his side. But the sad truth is they’re not. Some are downright dangerous, as recent events have showcased. I don’t have the heart to discuss this today, though. He’s happy and feeling good about his world. Today he trusts, today he’s safe and we have the entire week off for Spring Break to heal, rest, play, and recover. We have much to celebrate too. Despite all our setbacks, despite all the recent heartache, sabotage and rancor, our son is doing well. On most days he knows we love him, he knows we’re committed to protecting him, and he accepts, on some level, that the reason we push him is so he has a chance to reach his full potential. Two years ago I couldn’t have said this. Two years ago I couldn’t have fathomed that he’d be ready, developmentally, to listen to an explanation about the difference between helpful people and those who’ll turn their back on him; that if one adult in his life won’t help he needs to find another who will. But it can wait. Today we’re playing tennis, throwing the frisbee, maybe a little baseball, and then going with Grandma to the movies.