Little Ones Lost – Part One


 

Hello, Friends.

 

With the recent tragedy in Newtown, CT I feel that I must go off topic today.  When I heard the news on Friday I was sick…physically sick!  26 lives ended for no other reason than someone with evil intent chose to take them.

 

Of course, the political debate is already starting.  In fact, it started the moment the news announced that someone used a gun.  Regardless of opinions of gun control – I wanted to share a story from my life and explain why I could have been the parent of any one of those shooters. 

 

I have two sons, Creed and Jude (all names changed, of course) and then a daughter named Willow.  Creed is 20, Jude is 18 and Willow is 16.  Both Creed and Jude have had mental health issues at certain times in their lives.  

 

Creed was often the “smartest” kid in class.  His grades didn’t reflect it – but he is a brilliant individual.  In kindergarten no one could get him to read.  He just acted like he didn’t get it.  I read to him all the time and I would say, “can you read this page to Mommy?” but he would refuse.  One day during Christmas break I found him sitting quietly on his bed with a book.  He acted embarrassed, like he had been caught doing something wrong.  I asked him if he would like me to read to him and he just started reading the book like he had been doing it his whole life.  The teacher figured that he had really been reading all along but was just not interested in sharing it with anyone.

 

 

When Creed was in kindergarten I left the kid’s father.  He was violent and abusive and despite counseling, he didn’t want to change.  This set off an entire firestorm for Creed.  He felt that it was his fault that his father left marks – I reminded him that he was not to blame…his father was. 

 

In first grade we were living in transitional housing and on welfare.  It was not a good time.  Creed was already struggling and then Christmas came around.  His very young teacher had decided to use Santa Claus to control the children’s behavior – but Creed didn’t believe in Santa Claus.  Creed always had problems separating reality and fantasy, so we chose to avoid fantasy as much as possible with him.  When he spoke to his teacher about this, the teacher said, “Your mother lied to you…there is a Santa Claus.”  Now we were really in the shit!  You see, Creed decided that because I had lied to him it was because I was angry with him, didn’t want him to have a Nintendo  and his angry outbursts became uncontrollable.  After an outburst where he attempted to jump out of a moving car we finally had to have him admitted to a pediatric psychiatric unit.  They kept him over the weekend but did no evaluation and then sent him home on drugs.

 

Creed suffered from outbursts of anger until he was around 16.  He was tried on different medications, all of which did not work, and so we tried every behavioral program we could think of.  For a time we even had space in the house that was called the “Quiet Space.”  This is where he could go to calm down and relax.  It was usually a closet and at first I had to lock him in there.  I sat outside the door and talked to him to entire time.  It was never dark.  I had the light on and I had extra “tap lights” so he could have it as bright as he wanted.  There were books, toys, coloring books…he had his favorite stuffed animals.  I never left him alone – he could hear me telling him I loved him, that it was going to be alright.  The shrinks went nuts, “How dare you lock your child in a closet!!!”  I questioned myself constantly but he would harm himself and he would harm others if left to his anger. 

 

As time went on, Creed would look at me and say, “Can I have quiet space?  I think I need a moment.”  I would walk with him and tell him how proud I was that he realized he needed a moment.  I would offer to stay with him.  I would show him that the door was not locked and that he could come and go as he pleased.  I often asked him if he wanted a snack or a glass of milk.  Quiet space worked like a dream and he continues the practice to this day on his own.  There are times when Creed asks not to be disturbed – and we grant that wish.

 

Now that he is 20 he has grown into a very empathetic and caring young man.  He is not sure of directions in his life but he is sure of whom he is.  Suddenly, at age 18, a flip switched and he became an entirely different individual.  He takes no medications – he works two different jobs that involve the public – and everyone talks about what a wonderful person he is. 

 

We did it alone, his father, step-father and I.  Creed did it alone.  We received no help from the mental health community, no matter how hard we tried.  We would do therapy but they would just want to do more drugs.  We would hold him until he broke down sobbing.  I prayed constantly.

 

I am very proud of the man that Creed has become – I don’t know if we were blessed…or just very lucky!

Stay tuned for Jude’s story.

Joan

 

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