Friday, October 05, 2012

Amygdala Issues

Because it's soon to be his birthday, my almost 11 year old son, excitedly asked me if I'd take him out of school early for our birthday time, something I do for each kid, in the afternoon of that special day.

Well, dadgum if I hadn't been out in The Big Back Garden picking produce when I'd heard some barely audible peeps, following the sounds to the chicken moat where I was happily shocked to see two brand new baby chicks.

I ran to the school to get Nando, who also had a Dr. Mandy appointment, not because he has obvious issues and behavioral challenges, but because I believe it pays to have a neutral third party for my children to trust and to learn from.  Someone to reinforce a value system, or to be a sounding board that is Not The Mama.

"Happy Birthday!" I hollered happily, knowing he's obsessed with our hens, this was even better than the Nintendo DSI he'd also received from me, but the coolest thing ever came when we explored the coop to see how in the heck we'd mised this pending event.

One other brand new baby chick, still wet and unable to stand up, had just hatched, and we heard peeping from within another egg.  Nando's big expressive eyes widened in utter joy.  You can't buy this moment from the mall.

Sure enough, we then had four baby chicks, plus we lost one that we found deceased.  Apparently the hen had hidden these eggs right well, as there's been a hefty black snake battling us all for said eggs recently.  Scotty runs it off almost every afternoon it seems.

Nando was absolutely beside himself with joy as we brought them in, reactivated the heat lamp, and defeated that cunning ole snake at least over these four chicks.

Dr. Mandy again for the billionth time helped me comprehend how the trauma has made it virtually impossible for me to reason at times with my older teenagers.  Their over-active amygdala, like my own now, after so much trauma, reacts over-intensely to perceived threats, whether valid or not.  I have to 'adjust my aspirations regarding their futures,' she suggested.

Occasionally, there can be debilitating problems associated with hyperactivity of the amygdala. Being the storehouse for the memory of fear, it can misinterpret signals from the body and cause inappropriate actions. This can lead to panic. Panic is a heightened stage of anxiety and fear feeding itself in a positive feedback loop and jumping to faulty conclusions, which focus on impending danger, madness, harm, or death. Physically, the body undergoes many changes that ready it for extreme action. 

She reminded me though to look at how far they have come, one in particular.  He was a severely developmentally delayed, kicking, spitting, biting, hissing raged-filled toddler when he'd first arrived many years ago.  He was non-verbal until age six, and that now emotionally he's still clearly stuck in his toddler thought patterns and reactions, he, at least, presents much differently nowadays.  He does not hit, bite, spit, hiss and rage anymore.  That's progress.

"You have no control over his choices," she reminded me.  "I get that you want to protect him from the consequences, but you just can't do so.  It's just not possible.  You have to remind yourself that you are dealing with one whose emotions are stunted.  You have to be the grown up."

That he pushes buttons is how he rolls.  It just is.  I do deeply fear physical attacks upon him as an adult if he keeps this ugliness up.

And I'm the one who is stuck there.  I'm the one who wants him to understand that others in his adult life won't put up for one second with all this, they won't take his emotional handicaps in mind, and, right now, there's nothing I can do about it.

Nothing.  That frustrates me.

She followed me out to the door, wondering aloud if my uncharacteristic silence indicated disagreement.  No, not at all, I was just thinking, trying to process it, my own frustration over his inability obvious.  Deep sigh.

I have CEO aspirations, which are too high for him.  For me to expect him, at his age, to comprehend cause and effect is unrealistic of me.  That' a tough pill to swallow for a very determined mother.

However, with Nando, she'd helped him understand to some degree why I have to disengage at times with would be ragers.  He's smart enough to understand, he's seen what happens if I, as a parent, insist on compliance, the resulting rages just aren't worth it it.  Even Nando gets that, why don't I?

Because, as a parent, I feel compelled to teach these things, yet I'm parenting traumatized children who can not learn these things.

Oh, kinda like me right now, right?  Apparently I can't learn this one concept.  I'm still processing.  Yes, I comprehend it all intellectually, but the end result isn't good for the kids in the long run, yet I'm only barking at the moon right now, frustrating them, and hurting our relationship if I continue to insist on compliance at all times.

Oh, my.