Mineral Tuesday: Media

One thing that Mineral really really cares about it media. By “media,” I mean anything that gets plugged in to an electrical outlet or uses batteries and has a screen.

As you may have guessed, I am not a media-free mom. I watch TV. I watch Netflix. I am on the computer and my phone more than I think I **should** be. I’m fine with my kids watching TV or playing on the computer — after they finish whatever we’re doing for the day. (It always includes chores, and usually some form of learning, although yesterday was watching half of “Food, Inc” so they could learn about where our food comes from.)

Meanwhile, Mineral starts asking about media from the moment he wakes up. “Can I have media, mom? Can I play on your phone? Can I watch TV?”

Every single day is the same. Same rule. Every day. And yet, every day he asks. I wonder, is this a normal kid thing, or is it just him and his issues?

Typically, I let the kids have media in the afternoon — when My Masterpiece takes a nap, or when Cousin It and My Masterpiece take a nap. Once in a great while we have a completely media-free day, in which the kids bounce around like crazed animals and do a lot of drawing and reading and building with Legos and watching the fish tank.

Yesterday Mineral had a massive outburst. It seemed to go on forever. I haven’t seen an outburst like that in a while, and it really freaked me out. I try very hard never to show how his outbursts upset me, but inside I’m alternating between being angry at him and feeling sorry for him. I’m also worrying about the effects of his outburst on the other kids.

I’m also thinking, Is media so bad? All of the consensual living and radical unschoolers would say it’s totally fine for him to have media 24/7, that he will SELF-REGULATE over time. But they don’t know my kid. I know my kid. The self-regulating would probably take a decade and a half.

I actually took out my phone to video him for his therapist and his psychiatrist, but he pulled himself together when he realized what I was doing. He said he would be embarrassed for them to see him that way. I said that if they could SEE what happens when he has an outburst — which usually don’t occur when we’re at a doctor’s office — perhaps they could help him more. But it didn’t matter — there is no debating with Mineral. There is no reasoning. There is no logic. There is simply him, and his compulsive thoughts about what he perceives is happening in the world.

It’s usually not happening in the world.


My kid with special needs

I wish I did not have to write that I have a kid with special needs. I wish, if I had to write this, that at least the kid could be an only child born into a family with more resources to deal with the special needs. But alas, it’s one of my kids, so there’s simultaneously a lot of other children and not a lot of resources. And a mom who is tired!

The most difficult thing to write is that I don’t really know what to say about these special needs. There is no specific diagnosis — and even if there was a diagnosis, it’s meaningless without a way to help. One phrase that is lobbed around by nearly everyone is Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Another is Sensory Processing Disorder. You could also add Oppositional Defiant Disorder to that.

Whatever you want to call it, I often cringe (at least internally) when the behavior is exhibited in public. This child basically looks like a “normal” kid, and yet the behavior is not “normal” for the age, so I wonder what other parents think of this child, or think of me as a mother for letting a child of mine behave that way.

Of course, I wonder about that because I used to judge the mothers’ of children who behaved the way this child does. I used to see a child behaving the way my child regularly behaves and think, I would NEVER let my child behave this way. That much has not changed — I still do not “let” the child behave this way. I still try to correct the behavior when I see it, or even when I hear about it. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that correcting the behavior works only in the very short-term for this child, if at all. And I’ve also learned that past a certain age, you cannot control anyone’s behavior.

I apologize, in retrospect, for judging mothers based on their children. And for not realizing earlier that children are their own beings. This experience, mothering a kid with special needs, is as humbling as it is frustrating. I’m working on it.

I’m also working to help this child. The child receives weekly sessions from a speech therapist, and also an occupational therapist. Sees a psychiatrist regularly for medication — which helps bring focus — and a psychologist for behavior modification. I’m even talking with a woman who trains therapy dogs for children with special needs, specifically sensory disorder. It’s a long-term possibility.

For right now, I’m just mothering my kid with special needs. I’ve been thinking about it so much lately — talking with all the Jugs, talking with My Chemical Romance, dragging the kid and the siblings to doctors and therapies — that I feel better just typing it out, and letting it go.

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