Mother courage

So the summer holidays are looming and we still haven’t
had any news on our child and adolescent mental health services

James’s behaviour has been particularly difficult to cope
with, and puts tremendous strain on all of us. I feel increasingly
isolated and am at a loss to know how to deal with the worst

Over the bank holiday weekend in May we had a dreadful day.
James decided to turn the garden hose on his sister and his dad in
the garden despite urgent requests “not to even think about it”.
The windows got the garden hose treatment, as did our next door
neighbour’s washing. We sent him to his room – he refused to
go, so we threatened to confiscate his favourite toys.

By now James was descending into the depths of a fairly major
tantrum. He was screaming at me, stomped upstairs and threw the
toys in question down the stairs. Sometimes my emotional resources
are well-stocked enough to try and deal with this sort of
behaviour, but not on this occasion.

I went up to his room to find that he had removed wet bedclothes
and left them to soak into the carpet, and that there was a more
worrying unpleasant smell in the air. The cause was soon clear – a
small mountain of badly soiled pants had been hidden behind
James’s chest of drawers and a cursory glance in the bin
uncovered the usual pile of wrappers from secretly eaten food.

James, meanwhile, was lying on the landing, soaking wet and
screaming at the top of his voice. I told him to get changed.
“Never,” he screamed as he kicked the bannisters.

I completely lost my temper as my anger, frustration, worry and
sadness overwhelmed me. I screamed at him as loudly as he screamed
at me and dragged him into the bathroom to get washed. It was a
horribly ugly scene.

We screamed and shouted at each other – I descended to the level
of argument of an angry child and said some awful things – and I
felt terrible afterwards. I know that this challenging behaviour is
a response to what is wrong in James’s life, but when you are
in the thick of it, it is all too easy to respond

The bottom line is that we need help, James needs help, and that
help becomes more urgent as every week goes by.

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