Thursday, June 20, 2013

Elevating Fail

In my last post, I told you all about our last visit to church with Eric's parents.  Click here if you need to catch up.  

Well, almost all about it.

The breakthrough in the service was awesome.  The sermon was great and challenging, and I actually got to hear most of it.  Ryan was calm and even allowed me to snap a picture of him while we listened to the postlude.  

Adorable, right?  So proud of that kid.  He was so great during the service.  So great, in fact, that he earned the coveted ride on the elevator after the service.  

There was a congregational meeting following the service, so we scurried toward the exit following the postlude.  They were just starting the meeting when we hit the door.  About five steps outside the door, we saw and elevator. We were still close and the door was still open, but we were golden.  He'd done so very well, and now it was time to celebrate with something he talks about as soon as we mention going to Grammy and Grampy's, and even randomly in between!

Hey Ryan, let's have that elevator ride!  C'mon, buddy!  

What happened next floored me.  It was another sharp curve, a stomach-turning descent.  

Ryan screamed... and I mean SCREAMED... NO.  Not only that, he recoiled.  

Alrighty then.  

Eric and I looked at each other, wondering what in the world.  We decided not to worry about it, that he'd been talking about a white elevator and this one was kinda stainless steel-looking.  In our world, little things like that are life and death.  So we continued toward the preschool floor to get Richie and Maelynn, remembering that there was a white elevator on the way.  

As we approached the elevator... the white one... I tried again to get Ryan to ride the elevator.  Yet again, he dramatically declined.  This time he curled into me, covering his face.  Still as befuddled as we could be, we stood there for a couple of minutes to give him another chance.  Nothing doing.  

Ryan seemed happy to continue on to get his brother and sister, so we carried on.  Eric took Ryan back to the van and I went on to get the littles.  It's hard to take Ryan to pick up the kids, because his interests  in play draw him sharply to the kiddie toys in the preschool rooms.  Add to that zero inhibitions, and it can be interesting to just keep him from bum-rushing the rooms and the unsuspecting kids and teachers within.  

Both Richie and Maelynn had wonderful mornings, and I headed to the van hand-in-hand with them, chattering happily about their morning and where we were going next.  

Then I got closer to the van.  

I could hear him from at least three or four cars away.  We immediately picked up our pace to make it to the van as soon as we could. 

He was in full-scale meltdown.  Hitting, crying, screaming... all because he didn't get to ride the elevator.  

We stayed calm as we've practiced doing.  He got out, because you're not allowed to scream and generally freak out in the van.  Gotta have a boundary somewhere.  We stood on either side of him, trying to stay calm and remind him that we gave him chances to ride, and he refused.  

The boy who just completely rocked the worship service was completely apart.  He screamed, cried, and hit.  We calmly reminded him that he had more to look forward to, that we were going back to Grammy and Grampy's for a while.  Nothing seemed to help.  For fifteen to twenty minutes, we stood there while he melted down.  

At this point, it isn't the people looking at us that bothers us.  We were making a LOT of noise.  It was a scene, no doubt.  It wasn't time.  We had plenty of time.  

It was indescribable frustration.  

We tried to treat him for great behavior.  He didn't want the treat he'd talked about for a long time.  Then he got back to the van and realized, I guess, that he made a mistake, and instead of using words to express his disappointment, he exploded into a thousand pieces.  

When he finally found peace again, Eric and I sat in the van ourselves, taking a moment to pick the shards of shrapnel from our hearts.  It hurts, folks.  To watch your son hurt like that... to see him drowning in a swirling torrent of anger, fear, and frustration and have no way to rescue him but act calm yourself... it's crushing at best.  And then there's the doubt of the way to handle it.  There's questioning everything, but at this point, we both pretty much look at each other with a shared pained countenance and repeat something like "It's okay, honey." 

But it's not okay.  

He did so well.  So very well.  We wanted to reward him.  The reward ruined his experience.  Ugh.  

I'm sure we did the best we could.  There may have been other things we could have done, but we don't know about them.  

Sometimes there's nothing to do but the best you can do.  

On the way home and for the rest of the afternoon, we rehashed the events, deciding that we did our best.  And in all the worry of the last thirty minutes of the experience, guess what?  

We almost forgot about the breakthrough.  

In the disappointment and pain of riding out a meltdown with Ryan, which is very real and needs dealing with, we almost forgot what happened in the service.  

The funny thing is that the excitement of the blessing didn't take away the pain of the frustration.  They don't cancel each other.  The blessing and the frustration and challenge are both parts of life that operate in their own way, carrying their own functions.  

I will not pretend to understand this.  I will, however, tell you that remembering the blessing encouraged us.  In the frustration and fear of the moment, the reminder of the breakthrough of Ryan whispering for the first time encouraged us to keep going... that we just don't know what's around the next bend.  

It continues to hurt to watch Ryan self-injure, and to see his face tightened in the agony of the moment, hot tears pouring over his cheeks.  It continues to frustrate us that something as simple as going to a convenience store or for a walk takes so much planning and preparation, and that even with the careful planning and preparation there's still a 50% chance, at least, that whatever we're doing will go down in flames.  

But we keep going because of the love that God places in our hearts for our children.  We keep going because he's amazing.  Not because of the carrot of a huge breakthrough.  Because he's Ryan.  And he's our boy.  

Thanks be to God for keeping me going for the same reason. 

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