Today I was not a good parent.
My child was fed, cuddled, entertained and loved. Every one of his physical needs were met, but I struggled to listen to his emotions and I struggled to empathise.
Because it isn’t easy to really listen, let alone try to work out the problem, when someone is shouting and screeching at you for hours on end.
It isn’t easy to really listen when someone is battling against everything you do.
It isn’t easy to really listen when someone dislikes everything you say and everyone that they see, and certainly not when they shout it loudly for all to hear!
And it is not easy to be eternally patient when you are being physically prodded, pulled and grabbed at. Certainly not when it is constant and accompanied by a lot of loud noise.
It isn’t easy to have no mental quiet, no solitude, no peace inside your own head.
When your older child still needs more physical care than a toddler, has learning disabilities, anxiety and autism, there is a lot of listening to do. Even when your child has speech, they might not be able to express what is troubling them, and the only way to express it might be through seemingly “difficult behaviour”.
Today I found myself not listening, not thinking, and not helping my child to cope. I told him off for behaving badly. I struggled to hold back my tears. I was frustrated. We went out because I needed to get out. (He chose where to go but it was still a mistake to go.) I was tense and I did not respond properly. Because “properly” would mean responding in the way he needed, not the way I thought he needed.
I was physically sore. My back, neck, head and shoulders hurt constantly. And I was tired.
A lot of things are happening right now.
Lots of new equipment has arrived to replace things my son has outgrown.
Access difficulties have been hard to manage.
We did some filming with the BBC, which was tiring.
We are using the Equality Act on some big businesses.
Loved ones are poorly or away on holiday. We miss them.
Routines have changed.
Things have changed.
My son is becoming more aware of being on the outside, excluded due to disability.
And that is hard. It is hard for me, so it must be so much harder for my son.
And I need to take more time to listen. This kind of day is not typical for him. It used to be – till I learned to listen!
Hindsight is my favourite kind. Looking back, I should have hoisted him from his chair to the floor, made a den and held him close.
We should have done nothing more, but absolutely nothing less.
Tomorrow I will be a better parent.
If you are interested in knowing more about our struggles, take a look at these.
One of our legal cases involves The Entertainer toy shop.
And one of our current big stresses involves Sainsbury’s, where my son had a harmful experience.