You see him spitting on the playground, but you don’t see that my child has only just learnt to talk. Aged 5.
You see him screaming at me, refusing to get into the car, you don’t see his tears of frustration because he didn’t get to swim at school today.
You see him chatting to me after school, you didn’t see him hiding under the desk in the classroom when it was too loud for him to cope.
You see him playing on the playground, you don’t see him hurling chairs because he cannot control his anger.
You see him functioning like your own son, you don’t see me wiping his bum, even though he is six.
You hear his yelling, but you don’t understand how he becomes so fixated in the shop, he cannot bear to leave.
You see that I can’t handle my kid. You don’t see that I can’t, that inside I am crying and wondering what the hell to do next. You don’t see that I can, that eventually I do get a degree of compliance that allows us to continue our day
You see him in the same clothes as yesterday, but you don’t see how he sat by the washing machine screaming for the entire cycle before putting those wet clean clothes back on.
You see him hitting his brother with little repercussion, what you don’t see is that this brother has wound my child up for hours before you arrived.
You see me wasting money on playdough and sand, you don’t see how this sensory play is calming for child.
You suspect I haven’t bathed the child, but you don’t see that showering him is an epic physical and loud battle so we only do it every 2 or 3 days.
You have my child on a playdate and tell me how wonderful he was, but you don’t see the after effects that last for hours as he struggles to reintegrate with the family after the change in routine.
You invite us to your place and feel a little offended we don’t show, you don’t see the massive anxiety meltdowns we had that morning that left us all exhausted and unable to face people.
You see me buy more of the same toys we already have, you don’t see that these particular toys are his obcession, 15 hours of the day.
You see he is well fed, but you don’t see the incredible effort that goes into ensuring the food is texturally acceptable, served on the correct plate and entirely made from scratch because there are food sensitivities.
You see an angry child, you don’t see the hours of emotional coaching that I wont undo just to fit your idea of what discipline should look like.
You assume improvement, but instead what you see are parents who have changed their lives and every aspect in it to ensure we have the greatest chance of pre-empting the anxiety.
You see my child in the car, you don’t see that I must drive a certain route home otherwise my child will tense and scream.
You see me carrying a naughty child, what you don’t see is that the scratch marks and biting and bruises on my skin are from protecting my boy from himself, and others from him.
You see the child, but there is more than what you see.
You don’t see the holes in my walls from epic three-hour meltdowns.
You don’t see the fear in the siblings when the screaming starts.
You don’t see the way we have structured our routine in the best hopes of minimising the frustration.
You don’t see me coaxing him from under the bed.
You don’t see how he hates to be touched.
You don’t see how I’m cleaning milk from the curtains and ceiling because someone sat in ‘his’ seat at the table.
You don’t see that his sensory issues prevent him from touching things that he considers unpleasant.
You don’t see how my child is excluded from playdates and birthday parties and sleepovers because others feel unable to take on these issues. You don’t see the hurt.
You see us drinking green juices, but you don’t see that we don’t drink alcohol, coffee, do drugs, smoke or any other vices. Our health is the only thing keeping our children alive.
You see us losing our temper, you don’t see that we have been on the go since 4am dealing with constant demands.
You see me swearing, you don’t see my debilitating anxiety that has developed since becoming a parent.
You see that last nights dinner plates are still on the table, you don’t see that I had to abandon the dishes because his fear about today’s maths test had him clawing the walls.
You see that I forget so much, you don’t hear my mind whirring with the million other thoughts I need to keep my children safe and happy.
You see my messy lounge and don’t see that I have spent the past 3 days rushing to specialist appointments.
You see the darkness under my eyes, you don’t see me up tending to my children until 2am, or waking half hourly to meet their needs that don’t end at bedtime.
You hear me joking about kid-free holidays but you don’t know that I have never left my children for any period of time.
You see an incredible mess in my house, you don’t see that I had to hold an anxious child for two hours.
You see my casual approach and I see your frown. You don’t see that this is an act I put on in public, to cope. Inside I am turmoil and rage and hurt and fear and confusion.
You see my stress and offer a solution, but you don’t understand that I have tried that solution before. Many times. And hundreds of others.
The suggestions you have read online, in a book, heard from a friend, come up with yourself… we’re not stupid. Usual tactics don’t work because my children are not usual.
Abnormal requires an abnormal approach, don’t judge me because you don’t understand my logic.
You don’t understand the life of this, unless you have walked it yourself.