Parenting a child with PDA is like being thrown backwards into a speeding motorway, weaving through the traffic for fear of having an accident head on, always preparing for the next move.
Nobody tells you it’s going to be like this. It wasn’t in the parenting manual. I’m not ready.
Red, amber … I’ve got to be at seventy already – Help!
I waited so long to have her, to put her in my arms, snuggle her close. To change her nappy and not in the slightest be offended by her milky poos because she was all mine. The most adorable baby and with an infectious laugh it was hard for everyone else not to fall in love with her too, so much so other parents were envious… “she is such a good baby…you don’t hear a peep out of her… so perfect, a little doll.” I even secretly loved it that she only wanted me to do things for her, that I was her point of control and she felt safe with me. It made me feel like I was doing a perfect job. She didn’t need anybody else because she had me and I made her feel safe.
But what happens when that need to be in control takes over your life? I wasn’t expecting that. Not the child who has become so anxious that I can’t even leave the room without a scream or a cry. A beautiful child that decides to spit in my face, lobs toys at me, pinches and scratches, kicks and screams in my face. The same angelic eyes looking at me as she runs full pelt at me to punch me with all her might. Throwing insult after insult, “you’re ugly, I hate you, you’re a rubbish mummy, I hate my family.” Her beautiful whispy hair sticking to her face as she sweats with pure rage – this red mist that knows no boundaries. She grabs a chair and throws it, kicks the door as I try to protect her little sister, then climbs up to the shelves to smash the contents on the floor. I’ve gone past seventy, I’m doing one hundred and twenty and I can’t swerve past that stationary vehicle ahead. Keep calm. Keep rational. But I can’t…think…straight…it’s…all…too…much.
Take a deep breath, I’m choking.
Those breakdowns, those emotional overloads should I call them, can happen anywhere and at any time. I’m walking on eggshells waiting for the next episode. One time I know it will happen next – bedtime.
Another bedtime equals another demand. A demand that is scary and unwanted and met with every refusal possible. Iv’e learnt to adapt demands, word them differently and keep them to a minimum. However, sleep is essential and one that I can’t avoid. I need sleep, she needs sleep, her dad needs sleep. Her siblings in fact need sleep and she knows that too so here goes her manipulation skills to get out of the one part of the day she hates…”Mummy, can’t we just get rid of bedtime?”
“I’m sorry my darling, but we just can’t, you need it to grow big and strong”. Now it’s about to happen, “Nooooooooooo!!!!!!” and we are back in the fast lane, she runs to her sister’s room, snatches her toy runs off laughing, chased by a crying sibling who was getting cosy in her bed, spits in her face and it starts all over again.
This isn’t normal, but it’s routine for us. Where has that placid baby gone? The toddler who caused me no bother, where is she now? She’s been replaced by a monster.
Iv’e had to restrain her, but it’s worked. The smell of my skin and the lack of movement has shifted the energy and focus, now she is sobbing uncontrollably, “Nobody is going to like me, you all hate me, I’m so sorry for hurting you in the first place, I’m scared the meanies are gonna get me, I don’t like the dark, I don’t like going to sleep…you’re a nice mummy really. I love you.” The monster has slipped away and my angelic beauty has returned.
It’s back to calm and shortly afterwards she finally falls asleep. This was two hours after her nice relaxing bath, a soothing milk with her label and rabbit, then story time. It’s a false sense of reality, the calm before the storm, as she will wake in the night and be demanding again, disturbing the household like she does on a nightly basis.
This is my life, it’s only when I write it down that I realise it’s not quite the same as average parenting…I’m on the motorway and I’m parenting at the extreme. PDA, parenting and can someone give me some help please? I’m indicating but no one will give me right of way, am I going to crash?
Wow! I am so there. My daughter is 11 nearly 12..ASD PDA. School is 0 i am not even going to go into that nightmare..but bedtime is like all the demon’s from hell have arisen..taken up residence in my daughter and are doing their best to bring me to an early grave. I left my husband 11 years ago as he was abusive….I am now in an even worse situation as I of course will not leave my daughter…but I am in an abusive relationship…she is verbally aggressive, the vile things she says to me ” apparently i don’t deserve to breath”…that’s one of the nicer ones. I am physically abused…..mentally, emotionally and every which way in between. I live her more than anything else in the universe. I would jump in front of a live bullet to save her….yet when the demons gather….and then are unleashed…i hate her. Then i feel guilty, then i cry as feel guilty and a terrible mum for even thinking like that…then she comes back for another go…i hold up and cry…i have even phoned the samaritans twice in one night…and i contemplate my life as i can’t go on like this. I got close …the bullying and abuse had gotten to fever pitch…i’m kicked, slapped, Chinese burned, spoken to like i am nothing with no right to be living….but i am still here for now…dreading every bedtime. Trying to be a fulltime working single mum….fighting of the “oh no wonder she has problems, you’re a single mum”! Oh! You are too soft on her she needs boundaries etc etc …i suspect you can guess the rest….the eggshells are as sharpe as glass and the demon’s cut deep like a knife…but for now i am still here…i try to live by “a new day begins ‘….alas often it’s groundhog day….but i am still here…just…..a new day begins xx
Hi Clare, I understand every single word you have written, please take some comfort that you are not alone. I hope you can find a way to keep going as I hear you and no that rock bottom place you are in. The fact your daughter is doing this tells me you are close and this is her safe space. I hear it in your words too. This is not your fault.
There are a few places to turn and to do webinars that will connect and support you, I’d suggest Yvonne Newbold if you search her there is a Facebook group and her own website, I’ve found that useful.
Melatonin to get to sleep has been a godsend for us, as one of the issues was the fear of the onset of falling asleep and the frustration of not being able to.
I would also look seriously at how your daughter is feeling, what is she anxious about the next day? Does she go to school? Is it meeting her needs? Questions to think about and when changes happen things can get easier.
As hard as this is, however bad you feel, I can guarantee she will be feeling even worse inside and that’s why it’s being projected on you.
Things can get easier. Please look after yourself,
I think you are incredibly strong and will keep pushing.
Remember this is not your fault.
You are doing a good job xxx