Saturday, May 30, 2009


We signed up GL for Little League for special needs. He needs the exercise, he gets excited about sports, but most of the time he doesn't have a clue what is going on. We sent the paperwork in April. The form said his coach would contact us to tell us what team he was on. It gave directions to the park, and said that the little kids would be playing at 9:00, and the big kids (12 and up) at 10:30.

With game day fast approaching, I called the contact number to find out why we hadn't heard anything. I got a machine and left a message. No one called back. Two weeks before the first game, MB called again. She talked to the league president, who said they had just had the first coaches' meeting, and we should be hearing from his coach any day. She seemed to think this was not unusual, so we waited.

Today was the first game. They were supposed to issue uniforms, take team pictures, and play a game. Since we still hadn't heard anything, we wondered whether to show up at 9:00, or just before 10:30, when his game was scheduled. We figured with all the extra activity, and it being the first game, they would probably be running behind schedule, so why frustrate him further by getting there an hour and a half early?

We arrived at 10:15, and most of the teams were just finishing their games. By the time we found his team, most of them had left, and the coach was loading the equipment into his van. GL got his shirt and hat, which he was very excited about, but he'd already missed the game. And the pictures. Because of a lower than usual number of players signed up, they had moved all the games to 9:00. His coach was surprised that we didn't know. I said, "No one ever called us, and we didn't get anything in the mail."

He said there had been some last-minute changes, and GL had been moved to his team only the day before. He wondered why no one had contacted us when GL was first assigned to his original team. He pulled out the roster, found the team GL had originally been assigned to, and looked at the coach's name. "Oh." he said, "That explains it. Coach (name) tends not to do the things he is supposed to."

His new coach was very apologetic, but there wasn't a thing he could do. I was frustrated, but what could I do? GL was beyond frustrated. I asked him where he'd like to go instead. I thought he'd say McDonald's. I knew it wouldn't make it up to him, but it might distract him for a while. A first, he insisted he wanted to play baseball, but finally he said he'd like to go to the library and check out some books. On the way, I called MB and explained the situation. She thought I should take him for a snack anyway. I asked him if he wanted to stop for a snack, but he said, "No, I want to go to the library!"

I told him we could do both, and we ended up going to Kwik Trip for a bag of chips. Whatever works. Then to the library. It was okay except for a little yelling when I told him he had to wash the Cheetos off his hands before he could look at books. He quickly selected about twenty books, filling two large library bags. I usually let him check out as much as he wants, but insist that he carry it.

After we got home, we took our own pictures. When we came back inside, he started screaming. And hitting people. To keep him from injuring anyone, I made him go to his room. (Which wasn't easy.) He began pounding on the walls and screaming about blood. (There wasn't any. It's just something he routinely screams when he's angry.) And screaming threats, (I'm sure the neighbors heard; I'm not sure if they're used to it yet. At least none of them has ever responded. He used to yell out the window at passersby, "HELP! Emergency! Call 911!" They would just look uncomfortable and keep walking.) threats about what he would do to the whole family if we didn't let him out right now. (The door wasn't even closed all the way.) Or get off him and let him go. (There was no one in the room with him.)

He wasn't calming down. If anything, he was getting worse. I knew a change of scene would help, but first I had to get him calm enough to go out in public. And I'd already taken him to two of his favorite places. If I had to keep him entertained all afternoon, I would quickly run out of ideas and money, not to mention rewarding bad behavior.

So I pulled out my in case of emergency kit and called Grandma. She said that PBP could take him somewhere. Even going along with him running errands would keep GL happy and calm. But PBP had already left on his errands, and he refuses to carry a cell phone. He would be unreachable for at least three hours. And Grandma already had a houseful of grandkids scheduled to arrive in half an hour. Adding GL to the mix wouldn't help anyone.

Then GL said the whole family needed to play baseball. This was the first positive and possible suggestion he had made. It was worth a shot. So we loaded the family and his baseball gear into the car and drove to a local park. Saturday morning leagues were over, everyone had left, and we had the park to ourselves. The four of us played both sides. (Remind me some time to tell you about TS, a neighbor kid when I was growing up. He played both sides by himself.)

GL loves to play baseball. He has trouble remembering to run the bases in order, and he can't hit the ball without knocking over the tee, but he has a good time. His coach is going to have fun. After we'd each batted twice, and GL three or four times, and everyone had made it around the bases at least once, we went home. (Even with no opposing team, this was harder than it sounds.) GL was still upset, and continued to yell from time to time about this and that, but the constant screaming had stopped for now, he wasn't hitting anyone, and he wasn't pounding on the walls.

This series of events wasn't that unusual for him. When someone asks how we're doing, what can I say? If I give an accurate report, I sound like a pessimist. If I say things are "fine" or "about like usual," no one has any idea what life here is like. Not that I expect anyone who hasn't lived with this to fully understand. And by "lived with this" I mean "lived with this," not "got paid (or even volunteered) to deal with this for a few hours at a time, and then went home." But once in a while, I have to say something. Not because the situation is especially bad at the moment, but because I can't keep quiet for ever. Then I immediately feel guilty. Like I betrayed a secret. Like people will treat GL worse or be afraid of him now that they know how he acts at home. He usually manages to hold it together better in public. Like the old song says, "You only hurt the ones you love."

And I feel guilty because this wasn't unprecedented or shocking. It just slowly wore me down. After keeping quiet so long, there was no particular reason to let it out just now. I could have held it in longer. Not for ever, but at least a little longer. How long? And what would happen then? Who knows?

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Blogger At A Hen's Pace said...

Papa Bear,

I think it's healthy to be real and to be honest about your struggles. I understand that fine line, though, between being honest and protecting your child's privacy, and the one between telling it like it is and being a complainer! But fear of one can keep us from ever being the other, and sometimes it's just okay to let your guard down.

In this instance, it's obvious that GL doesn't have the resources to deal well with a great disappointment. It seems to me like you did an awesome job of coping and helping him work it out. But it sounds like a full-time job! No wonder you feel worn down!

Saying a prayer for you all right now...


June 11, 2009 at 12:34 AM  

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