Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's not as much fun as you would think...

I'm talking about having a child in counseling.

I mean, you might think it would be just a barrel of laughs, but really, it is not so much fun. And, I can speak with authority here, it is even less fun when you are the birth mother. Because, you know, you get to be responsible for everything.

So let's say there was this time years ago when you and your husband went on a trip and it upset your son very, very much but he would not talk about it. Your husband always worried that Something Awful happened but you said that you thought it was really just that you left him when he didn't want to be left. Of course your husband replied, "That can't be the only thing. It can't be just that we left."

But there is no knowing because your son won't talk about it, and you keep agreeing that it is okay, he doesn't have to talk about it.

And that is the way it stays for years. You think that your son was upset because you left when he really did not want to be left; your husband is worried about Something Awful; and the kid ain't talking. You dutifully bring it up whenever he meets with a new counselor, but the kid doesn't want to talk about it and you all agree that he doesn't have to if he doesn't want to.

Then one day your son goes to counseling with Dad because it is Dad's turn and you are feeling a little (though perhaps unreasonably) annoyed with the counselor, even though (or perhaps because) she is getting him to express things that he needs to express that no one else has been able to help him express. When they come home Husband is happy that Son made a break-through. He finally talked about The Weekend and it turns out that there was no Something Awful, "It was just that we left him even though he really didn't want to be left! He was really upset and afraid we wouldn't come back. He couldn't believe that we would go away like that when he didn't want us to. The counselor thinks this could really be at the heart of his anxiety about people leaving. I never thought it could just be that, but I see now that it could be. He was just eight and it really upset him."

And you take a deep breath and pretend that you haven't offered this theory of the past to your husband dozens of times. After all, it doesn't matter who had this idea. All that matters is that your son finally understands and can name his feelings.

Hubby then says that Son needs to express his feelings to you too, and you understand because you are a good mom and you are ready to receive your son's feelings of abandonment. Those feelings are real and he needs to tell you. He will bring that sadness and vulnerability and anger over abandonment and say, "Why did you leave me?" And you will hug him and tell him that you are sorry he was so upset years ago and that you love him and will never, ever leave him. There might even be tears.

So Son comes into the bedroom and Husband summarizes the counseling session and asks Son if he would like to say anything.

Son looks you right in the eye and says, "I've been trying to tell you that for five years and you never listened to me. I really don't think it should have taken a trained professional to get you to pay attention."

And you know you are a good mom because you completely resist all the evil urges that flood your psyche. Of course just standing there breathing deeply doesn't seem to be quite the right response either.

Like I said, having a child in counseling is not as much fun as you might think.


  1. And the kid is still alive? Boy you are a good mom!

  2. Oh hon!
    Damn but you have my sympathy, empathy and respect!

    I would have freaked out.
    I think.

  3. I'm sorry, but I'm laughing! It's just all so absurd, isn't it? If it makes you feel any better, it happens the other way around, too: I will have worked for weeks or months on getting a client to understand an issue from a certain perspective, and then one day during a session she will say to me, "My best friend said maybe I do ________ because when I was a kid ________ happened to me and I'm still scared/worried/mad about it. And that's the first time anyone has ever said that to me and now I totally get it!" And I will smile over my clenched teeth and say, "That's great!" even though I am thinking, What the hell do you think I've said to you fifty thousand times???

  4. I sympathize! I hate when Bug goes to counseling. The counselor always tries to explain things to me like I'm 2, and even when I explain to him that I understand, he still talks to me like I have no understanding at all. Like, "Bug is feeling sad because she can't see her real mom. Sometimes kids who are adopted miss their biological families." What? REALLY? OMG thank you Mr. Counselor. She's told me more than once too that he listens to her because he told her XYZ and of course, I've told her XYZ a million times.

  5. Hmmm maybe you were speaking latin when you told them that 150 million times before and that is why they didn't hear it.

    You are very very very patient. I know it is important for him to be able to express this but d#mn that the control not to choke the both of them.

    I vote for extra mayan chocolate ice cream for Mom. Can you come hang out with us and solve the problems around here? Like how can two people look at a house and one see it as a train wreck and the other sees it as not that bad?

  6. hhaha sorry this poor child has been given the tools to BLAME but you know we mothers are allways teh one who takes the crap. You have in there and know that this will NOT be the last time YOU didnt' listen,, hell my 28 and 26 eyar olds still tell me I screwed up adn my replay is,,,,, "well we do what we do with what we are given, now YOU know better so DON'T do it." hang in there..

  7. Oh wow! I aspire to one day be as calm and reasonable as you are - way to not flip out when you heard that.

  8. Ok, I'm officially never having kids now. Anybody who gets to be traumatized because I didn't do what they "wanted" me to do, needs to not be part of my life. Just like Him.

    Nice self-control though. :) Not just this time, but a lot of the other posts I've read about your son's emotional state. I totally coulnd't deal with his particular variety of issues.

    You rock.

  9. You should have told him that YOU are a trained professional!

    Your story reminds me of a time my friend's 3 year old locked herself in a room in my home. The door was glass so we could see her, but she refused to understand what we were saying when asked to unlock the door, and her mom started freaking out so badly that we needed to call for help. The fire department arrived and said, "Sweetie, could you unlock the door?" "SURE!" Click! Ugh.

    I don't have any of my own in counseling, thankfully; I'm having a hard enough time just being the foster mother. Although I wouldn't mind a little therapy for myself! hehe

  10. I'm sorry, sister!

  11. it's obvious to me, you have been speaking in the tongues all this time and there no one to translate! happens to me all the time. but nowhere nearly so often as it did before i left the classroom, i spoke in the tongues all the time then. only reason i could ever come up with for nothing i said ever being heard and/or understood. oh, and congradulations on not killing him!

  12. Wow...your self control is amazing, and I stand in awe of you. I know he's your son, and I know you love him, and I know he must be a good person, but at the moment, he sounds like such a smug, self-righteous, self-involved little boy...I do not have the grace and patience that you've got, that's for sure!


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