Big Guy and I are supposed to leave tomorrow morning to visit Eldest. Her choir concert is Saturday evening -- they're singing the Faure Requiem -- and since Big Guy has never been up to see Eldest at school, it seemed like a good thing to bring him along.
Tonight I'm not sure if we'll be able to go. Big Guy is working very hard to make it impossible. He has been doing well the past month, better than we've seen him in a long time. Tonight he had a minor disappointment, and he refused to move beyond it. If I told you what caused it, and how many hours of drama ensued, I guarantee you would not believe me. In fact, you would be appalled.
When Big Guy is in the throes of feeling bad, he compulsively wants to feel worse. Unfortunately, he has a compulsive need to make other people miserable, too. And he's very resourceful.
Ina crisis like this I run through my mental checklist: safety first, don't react, breathe deeply, pray silently. It is hard, hard work to let the outrageous provocation slide off for half an hour, an hour, two. I make mental notes on every hard object that could be thrown, every semi-valuable that could be intentionally damaged. I casually find my cell phone in case I need to call 911. I make sure the other children are safe: "Don't feed the monster," I say quietly to Little Guy, "Go into another room and ignore everything he says. Don't respond to anything." (Later, when I see Little Guy curled up in a ball on the sofa, head under a blanket, my heart sinks: he doesn't feel safe. I tell him gently to go sleep in my bed, and he eagerly complies.)
Eventually, some time after 10pm, Big Guy wears out. I am glad; you never know which way things will go. He (or we) could have ended up in the ER.
I sit on the sofa with my head in my hands, praying and thinking and suppressing the fear that we are back where we used to be. Andrew and I talk quietly about what has happened. We agree that we need a new plan, because we cannot allow this to occur again. But we're too worn out to think of one.
I get in my pj's and climb into bed. Little Guy is sleeping peacefully. I inventory my whole day, so that I can keep the past few hours from being my sole memory. I remember that I awakened at 5:30 in a state of surprising hope and optimism. I had cornbread made and laundry in the wash before 8am, we did our homeschooling, and I worked on a piece for which I had an afternoon deadline. I took a break from writing to put up Dancer's hair for ballet (she can do it, but she likes me to do it anyway). I brought the younger ones to play rehearsal, and raced back to finish my writing piece.
I am suddenly intensely grateful for the surge of hope this morning; I am not sure I would have made it through the evening without that buoy. I am glad the laundry is done. I think of all the good things, including seeing six stars over the river this morning, a veritable galaxy in the skyglow.
Before heading to bed I open the door to Big Guy's room. He stirs, so I know he's awake. "Good night," I call quietly, and then take a deep breath and add, "I love you."
Big Guy rolls over. "Good night, Mom. I love you, too."
I let the day close as it began: in the dark, with hope, and no real knowledge of what lies ahead. It's enough.