What if the Danger to Yourself is You?

With your brother Sawyer, I can fix everything with a Band-Aid and a hug.

He falls off of his scooter? A Band-Aid, a kiss and a hug will do the trick.

It’s all textbook. He’s six years old going on 12.

His world is bike riding, baseball, friends and BeyBlades.

His world doesn’t make sense to you.

But with you Cooper, the problems are so different.

You’ve never fallen off a bike. You’ve never had a friend steal your toy. You’ve never skinned your knees.

Not only do you refuse to wear band-aids, your problems are nothing like your brothers.

While Sawyer’s problems don’t make sense to you, yours don’t make sense to the world.

And I want you to know that it’s okay. I will be by your side through every single one buddy.

But I often feel so helpless. I don’t know if you can tell that. I hope not.

Yesterday, you got so frustrated over construction paper that you hit yourself a hundred times in the head. Maybe more.

It happened so quickly. And it hasn’t happened in so long that I wasn’t ready for it.

Dad was on the couch. I was in the chair. The baby was on the floor taking it all in.

You were getting anxious. You were pacing. You wanted more paper. Only we didn’t have anymore. It was all gone.

A blessing and a curse.

You’d sit. Then stand. Then walk to the basement door and beat on it with your hands. It was so loud.

We are told to ignore behaviors. That’s the tactic we are doing now.

Only, I talk you through a lot of your struggles. That’s my tactic. I’m a mom. Not a therapist.

But it wasn’t working. Not this time.

You were yelling at us. Or at me. Or yourself. Or maybe even at the paper. I’m not sure who I guess.

And then you stopped right in front of me Cooper. I am your person. The one who is supposed to understand you.

You looked at me with those soulful eyes. You towered over me. For a second I remembered that two year old little boy with the pudgy cheeks.

I smiled. I thought, maybe you are fine. You are moving on. It’s working.

My band-aid for you. A win for mom. My words worked this time.

Only I was wrong.

Instead, you screamed. It was blood curdling. High pitched. It seemed to never end.

And you started beating yourself in the head. Over and over again.

So fast your fists were a blur. Repeatedly.

I was shocked. I froze. So did your dad.

And than I did the only thing I knew how to do.

I jumped up.

I hugged you. I pulled you into me. I protected your face with neck and chest.

And I held you as tight as I possibly could.

I squeezed all while whispering, ‘It’s okay buddy.’

I tried to say it confidently. Like a mother should.

Only, looking back, I’m pretty sure it sounded shocked. And desperate. More like I was begging you to be okay.

‘Be okay buddy. Be okay buddy. Be okay buddy.’

That’s what I hear now when I rethink it.

Self injury. There is nothing else like it.

Your body eventually tired. You collapsed into me. Your fists fell to your sides.

You pulled your head back and looked at me again. Those eyes. If you could talk I imagine you saying, ‘help me mom.’

There weren’t any tears. There was no sound really. Your dad was staring at us. The baby too.

I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.

As parents we are supposed to protect our kids from dangers and monsters. That’s our job.

But what if the danger is themselves?

Somedays, some moments, I just wish it could be easier. I wish it could be text book.

I wish I could just put a band-aid on an owie. And kiss a skinned knee. And give you a treat to make the pain go away.

I will continue you to protect you kid. Even if it is from yourself. As long as I possibly can.

I will never give up.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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