Monday, June 1, 2015

The changeling

It's hard to know how to handle a kid who changes all the time.

Sometimes he's a sweetie who likes to give hugs. Sometimes he's the kid who cheerfully went along with me to the farm for CSA pickup last week, helped me pick out the veggies on our list, and ran along the ground to marvel at the rows of potatoes he helped plant.

And then sometimes he's the kid who kicks his teacher, throws things, and runs out of the room so he doesn't have to do his classwork.

We're not entirely sure which kid we're going to get on which day. Sometimes he gets dressed without a problem. Sometimes he crouches over a Lego instead and says he doesn't care if he misses breakfast or the bus. Sometimes he does his chores, and sometimes he huddles on the couch and refuses. Sometimes he kicks.

"Changeling" means, according to legend, a baby who was secretly taken from his parents by fairies, and a fairy substitute left in his place. It's not an exact comparison here. Sometimes we have our kiddo, and sometimes we don't. But that's how it feels: Like our real kiddo has been stolen from us, but sometimes he's still here. And sometimes he isn't.

I don't think he can really control these moods. He's always sorry afterward. But it's hard to know what to do to get him through the day. It's hard to know how to help him. And it's hard not to get upset.

I've become reluctant to bring him places, like a supermarket or a festival, where I know he'll have problems. When people ask "how are the kids?" I honestly don't know how to answer. Do they want the honest answer?

I'm hoping things will settle down after the school year is over. Maybe this past year was so bad he just needs the break. Maybe we all need the break.

But right now, he's refusing to get dressed again, so the changeling is back.

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