First of all, I’d like to wish K a very happy 45th birthday. With luck, this time next year I’ll be making him some sort of ridiculous birthday cake like I always do. We got to sing Happy Birthday to him last night via web cam, so it wasn’t a total loss. The kids loved being able to sing on camera, and fun was had all around.
I mentioned a few days ago not having the greatest of weeks, and I was crossing my fingers it would end better, but I think I broke even by the time Friday night ended (thanks to the fun I had doing the Dave and Dave Show). Friday afternoon I had a meeting with Monkey’s team (behavior specialist, teacher, and therapy coordinator) so we could all get on the same page with where he is and what we are doing for him. I’m pretty sure somewhere on this blog I’ve said that Monkey has some developmental and speech delays which wreak havoc on academics for him (he is six but sounds like he’s around 3-4). He’s s-l-o-w-l-y making progress between all the work he does here at home, at school, and at an outside occupational/speech therapy provider. But the last few weeks have seen him backslide a bit and show off some behaviors that are really not like him. He’s not a particularly physically aggressive kid (he’s more of a lover not a fighter), but he’s started acting out his frustrations and protesting doing his work in a more physical fashion. He’s shown restraint, but the intent is there. We’ve all also had to go back to using picture schedules and breaking tasks down more so he can be successful. It’s like one step forward, two steps back. In trying to pinpoint just what could be causing this change in him, the one major event (apart from the end of Christmas which he was very very unhappy about) is K being gone.
The more we sat there talking about taking steps back to get him moving on the right road again, the more angry I became at this situation. I feel bad for Monkey already that it is so difficult for him to get through school work (and honestly, many times it’s not hard. He gets plenty of things and retains them just fine. There’s just a lack of consistency as to what he’s retaining when) and then to have him forced into a life that interferes with how far he had already come and his future progress…I wanted to hit something. His team is doing a fantastic job with him and they love him and understand what’s going on. They’ve been beyond helpful to me so that I can help him too. Seeing all our work coming undone just raises my bile to levels I didn’t know I had. But who do I aim that anger toward? Isn’t that the complicated question?
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t mad at K for deploying. I am and I’ve said as much after Monkey’s meeting. It would be one thing if we didn’t have kids, because I can handle this just fine on my own. It’s painful sometimes to see how this all affects the kids—even if they don’t show it in obvious ways every day—no matter how “normal” I try to keep our life. And I try so very hard. Generally they handle things very well. I doubt anyone would even notice a change in them if they didn’t see them daily, but the changes are there and I can see them clearly and all I can do is damage control. That makes me mad too. That there needs to be damage control. But how long can I be mad at K for doing his job? It’s what he signed up for and what he is required to do. I know this quite well. His job pays our bills and puts a roof over our head. It’s more than I’m doing right now.
So do I shift that anger over to something greater? Do I get mad at the government for sending our troops to these places? Or do I get mad at the terrorists for hating us enough to want to kill us? I can’t see what good that would do. Obviously any anger I possess will just be hanging out there with nothing to do if that’s where I take it—much like a teenager at the mall. The more I consider my anger, the more I realize that it’s not helping and having it sit out in the open will only affect the kids in a less than positive way. It is up to me to be the better example.
Oddly enough, yesterday I came across a couple of articles on cnn.com about studies done on children of the military during deployments. The most recent was about how adolescents handle deployments (here’s that study) and the other was more about families in general (and this study). The first article talked about anxiety levels in pre-teens and teens who are going through multiple deployments and how they compare to teens not going through deployments. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to know that kids of deployment have more anxiety. Seems obvious. What the article also says though is that the kids manage and adjust better when their non-deployed caretaker is doing better. I can’t say I’m surprised there either. I didn’t do such a hot job last time and it definitely made a difference in R. I learned that lesson before anyone wrote about it and that is why I’m not working in an office anymore. The less juggling on my part means more time to help the kids, and hopefully a calmer and more consistent me.
So I’m working on letting go of the anger (again/still/some more) and concentrating on helping Monkey instead. Maybe this week I’ll do a couple more kickboxing routines followed by a whole lot of yoga. Today starts a new week and I can leave last week’s disappointment behind. I’ve got a full to-do list this week and it’s time to make this new routine I’ve concocted work. My new meal plans are underway, as is my work out routine and writing schedule. I’m making better progress than I have in a long time on some freelance design work, and so far the household sniffles seem to be abating. It’s time to go break out Monkey’s moon sand, get R on the bus, feed the doggies, and get moving in the right direction because that is what I do.