Where I live, it is pretty much impossible to find respite care…unless your kids are in “the system.” I’ve gone to “MIKID” meetings– which stands for Mentally Ill Kids In Distress–and even they told me there are basically no respite providers in town. It can be exhausting parenting a child who has not one, but at least 3 diagnoses, and if you want to go somewhere to take a break, good luck.
One night Jeff and I tried to go out for dinner and we hadn’t even been gone for 45 minutes when his cell phone rang and it was Taylor telling us to come home asap because his younger brother was “losing it.” He informed us he was sitting on Ben. “Sitting on him! Whatever on earth are you thinking?” He claimed it was the only way he could keep him from physically damaging property or people.
Even though Ben has improved quite a bit over the past year, he still isn’t a child whom you can trust to let out of your sight. He steals…including from stores if given a chance, so I have to pat him down whenever we leave a store. He doesn’t do it because he has an evil streak; his brain pretty much has no impulse control, so if he wants something, he sees no reason why he can’t just take it.
He also isn’t much for respecting boundaries, so he wanders through neighbor’s yards, and takes things from siblings’ bedrooms. Yesterday I caught him in Alyssa’s bedroom looking around for her I-Pod. Yes, he is deaf, but he also loves to listen to music through his cochlear implant. When I verbally chastised him for being in her room yet again without permission, he let me know that it was her fault because she had forgotten to lock her door. Yep…that’s the way his brain works.
There are days when I would love to just run away from the 24/7 care that Ben requires. Yes, indeedy it is 24 hours a day because he often wakes at night to get into trouble as well.
Even though Ben can be tough to handle, he has one quality that I find quite endearing. He loves babies and always has. When he was only 5 I caught him picking up a total stranger’s one month old baby out of her carseat when we were visiting a church congregation 2 hours from our home. His love for babies is one of the reasons I am enjoying providing respite care this weekend. Even though I pretty much will never find respite care, I can provide it for foster children, and for the next 5 days we are taking care of a precious 3 1/2 month old little girl.
She’s just a tiny little thing, still wearing 3 month size clothes. None of my kids were ever that small at 3 months. I think by then they were all wearing at least 6-9 month sizes. She’s a good, good baby, though, who coos and grins and laughs and who easily went to sleep tonight without so much as a squawk.
Ben came home from school today and could hardly stand it that she was asleep. As soon as she was awake, he wanted to hold her and love on her. Something about babies brings out an incredibly gentle side in him and he tenderly stroked her soft, downy hair as I let him hold her this evening. When I put her down on a blanket for some tummy time, he was right by her side, gently touching her face and talking to her.
Just as therapy animals are healing to patients in hospitals and nursing homes, babies are very healing to Ben. He is so much happier and so gentle when babies are around, that I have discovered that providing respite for a baby also provides respite for us from some of Ben’s issues.