A few weeks ago Luke's teacher came to me and told me that he wasn't acting like himself. Hitting, yelling, not sharing. I had noticed the same behaviors at home. I decided to take him to the pediatrician to make sure his ear infection had cleared up and wasn't the cause of the problems. It wasn't. As I was talking to the pediatrician about his behavior I also started to realize Grace had also been acting up a lot lately. And then I realized it coincided with us being at the hospital so much lately.
That night was terrible. Grace and Luke were flying aces of bad attitudes, yelling, breaking rules and not just anger, but rage. The first thing I did was get on my knees and pray because I knew if I didn't get help I would do something I'd later regret. Except I couldn't really get on my knees because I'm older than I realized so I just did the best I could.
Minutes later Grace came in angry and yelling that she was going to "draw a picture." It's her way to verbally assault me with crayons and glitter. As she marched out of my room I felt God urging me to draw her a picture too.
She marched in a few minutes later (it's amazing how effective marching can be on wood floors as a form of protest when you're six) and she shoved her drawing at me. She's crying on the left as the mean mom takes away a pretty flower from her.
I handed her my picture as she was marching out of my room. I drew a mom with a hurting heart because her kids are using their words to hurt her and they treat the morals she's trying to teach them like trash.
After I put the kids to bed that night I kept praying and praying. The other thing I heard God tell me was that I need to play with my kids more. These last four months have been so incredibly busy for us. In addition to the hospital for Grace's end of treatment, we've been in the ER five times, Chad got a new job, old car broke down, bought a used car, got a loan, got a new roof, replaced our main sewer line, fixed our electrical breaker box, had two major holidays, 14 family birthdays, three of us had the stomach flu, 1 head cold for two weeks, an ear infection, colonoscopy, asthma problems...whew.
I was so exhausted that I had the TV on more and played with the kids less. So I started to change that. I scheduled in one-on-one play time with the kids and we played dolls and action figures, my least favorite of all playtime activities. But it's also one of the most intimate. Chad and I started playing sports with them and hide-and-seek and tickle chasing. The tension started to ease, the shouting and uncontrolled anger became manageable again.
But I feel strongly that we need professional help. The fear and pain in both kids are so compacted and deeply buried that Chad and I can't help them in the ways they need. And Chad and I need to learn how to talk to them, how to listen better, and how to heal ourselves too.
Yesterday I met with a therapist who has worked with cancer families for over ten years, and the Michael Hoefflin Foundation is paying for us to have ten sessions with her. It's such a miracle. I cried after meeting with her because I knew that God heard my prayer to get help for my kids. And I'm so thankful. If we're battling cancer or tantrums, God has shown us that he is so near to us and cares so much for us.
...I have to run and get Luke from Preschool, but I'll share tomorrow some of the quick suggestions that we've already implemented that are working for us. Next week the kids will meet her and then we'll start in earnest.