What popped into my head just before I sat down to blog tonight was the inscription Alexander Pope wrote for the collar of George II's little dog:
I am his majesty's dog at Kew.
Pray, Sir, whose dog are you?
I love the satire of the 1% here (get it? The folks fondling this little dog and reading its collar were courtiers, the King's inner circle, somewhat like the 1% of 2012). But really, the reason this verse jumped into my head tonight was not because I crossed paths with some heartless billionaire (not bloody likely, mates).
It was the second line, out of context, that spoke to me. Except I substituted the word "boy" for dog. As in, "Who the hell is this man-child sitting in the back seat of my car. Hey, Kid! Have we met?"
I mentioned in a recent post that puberty is changing our playing field. Yup. And my big question is, how will puberty affect Benjy's (fragile) mental health? I'm afraid we are getting an inkling of the answer.
Yesterday we began a vacation (I know, unbelievable) with my best friend and her son, who happens to be Ben's best friend. We did this once before, about three years ago, when Ben was in the throes of PTSD (the result of a scary tire blowout on the Massachusetts Turnpike the year before. Ben would not ride on any highway or large road for about two and a half years. Major panic attacks would ensue if we tried).
That last vacation was really tough; two days in, Benjy could only think with deep agitation about the impending ride home. It was not a fun time.
But this summer we though we'd try again, This time the road trip was about as long as the last (6 hours) but we'd all be riding together in one van.
I should have known how it was going to shake out when, on Thursday night, Ben did not sleep much. Then, when the social worker at school called me on Friday to say he'd needed to sleep most of the day, citing his anxiety about the trip, it should have been confirmed: this trip was going to be a problem. But last night we drove to A and M's house in Connecticut, where we would sleep over before driving to the Jersey Shore this morning. And last night Benjy simply did not sleep. I learned this when I woke at six this morning and found him in the living room using my laptop. He told me he'd been up since five, but when A woke she informed me he'd been up all night -- and kept her up -- watching YouTube videos and shooting a toy metal gun belonging to M.
Click, click, all night long, right next to A's bedroom. I'm surprised A. didn't kick the whole lot of us out to our car.
I gave Ben an Ativan an hour before we left, but Readers, let me just say that Ativan does NOT avert psychiatric meltdown. It may blunt, but it does not prevent.
The whole six hours, he made annoying noises, uttered his creepily dark ideas, was insolent and angry. At times he had an odd, displaced look about him. It's a look we hadn't seen in a long time.
I could say more about the way Benjy was today, but it makes me too sad. Suffice it to say that I did not completely recognize him. Who he was, was a variation of whom he's been in past, dysregulated days -- but different, too. Angrier, and more insolent. Resistant. He scared me a little.
And one of the worst things of all is that my dear friend, who has always cared for Ben, and who has ALWAYS been there for me on this difficult journey, is not getting it. I can see in her eyes that she doesn't like him right now, and that she doesn't believe he's anything but a badly behaved kid.
That, as any parent of a kid with autism and/or mental illness will tell you, is a simple reality. People look at us like we are the worst parents ever, like our kids are losers, or bad people. And that hurts something fierce.
So I did the only thing I could: I doped him up on extra melatonin and his usual Clonidine so he will sleep tonight, and crossed my fingers that tomorrow will be better.
Maybe A. was just tired. And maybe Benjy is tired, too.
God knows I am. I'm exhausted.