Benjy is an odd mix of self-confident and self-despising (more often the latter). Today when I picked him up from the Joy School he piled into the car, glowing, and said,"I ran a lap around the courtyard in TWENTY SECONDS!!"
"Wow," I said. "That's good."
"Yeah," he said. "I'm a good runner. I think I can run about 15 miles per hour. Is that really fast?"
I had no idea, but I told him it was.
He continued, "I run with these tiny steps, like Sonic, and I'm about as fast as him, too. My legs are a blur."
Sonic is a video game character. I presume he is a fast runner.
When Benjy has an inflated sense of his own abilities I usually go with it -- not because I want to raise a kid who is "the best" at everything (a lot of parents seem to subscribe to this parenting philosophy) but because it makes me happy to see him feeling good about himself. His more frequent attitude is, I'm the worst, I'm worthless, don't waste your time with me.
But recently we've been seeing this other Ben. This excessively confident child. And what we haven't seen much of are the self-inflicted injuries that accompany his dysregulation, his tilt. When his body is tight with anxiety, and his mind, too; when he is suffused with sadness and self-loathing, his body exists only to be battered and insulted. Even my caresses do not drive off his injurious impulses.
Bit it's been weeks since I've seen any of that, except for one compulsive hurt -- biting his lower lip bloody. Otherwise it's been peaceful around here, and his body has been healing. The last hair-raising episode I can remember was when he was in the hospital, back in October, and taped a sheet of paper with a bulls-eye and the words "Shoot Here" to his forehead. That was not a good day for Lars and me. It was definitely not a good day for Ben.
Here at Chez Delaunay we take things one day at a time -- it's a little less stressful, and less devastating, that way -- and this day has been a great one. It's Saskia's 14th birthday, Benjy is a Runner, and I am sitting nearby them, listening to them enjoy each other's company. It was only a month ago that we were in as bad a place as I could have imagined (okay, maybe not quite as bad -- I frequently imagine worse). And now, things are so much better I could cry.