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?