Friday, July 31, 2015

A missing child and confronting fears

I almost lost Rhys the other day and it freaked me out.

I was downstairs cleaning (I have so much to declutter) when I thought I had better check on the kids in the backyard playing. It's good to do that every now and then. Just to make sure they are where they said they'd be and that they're not killing eachother. That's when I realized that Rhys was not with the Youngers and the neighbour. I knew he wasn't in the house, since I hadn't seen him anywhere, and of course no one else knew where he was either. Which upset me. How come they didn't notice he wasn't with them anymore? The last they knew, he was in the front yard, which frustrated me further. My rule is that the kids aren't allowed to play in the front alone. We have no fence and even though our neighbourhood is a nice one some people like to drive through it fast. I have a few concerns about the Youngers out there.

As I stood in the front yard, looking at our quiet neighbourhood, I was struck with a blank mind. I didn't know what to do, where to look, where to go. And then I was filled with anxiety. Rhys wouldn't be just a missing child, but one with possible-borderline-maybe special needs. And that's hard. He has no label, nothing to go on, just my knowledge of who he is.

I know that he wouldn't wander off. But he could get distracted. He's good at chatting with older people, so he could strike up a conversation and walk with someone passing by. He could also be convinced to go with someone. And he could also be easily snatched since he has no strength or know-how to struggle or fight back. (Eden, at four, would scream bloody murder if someone were to touch her!) And these are scary realizations.

I knew that Kai was next door, so I went to see if he knew where Rhys was. But, of course, he didn't either. No one knew. No one knew when he'd not been a part of their group. No one knew where he could be. Just where he wasn't.

I wasn't panicking yet but I was starting to feel frustrated. How come these kids didn't pay attention to their own sibling? I remember always keeping an eye on my little sister! Mostly, maybe, because she kept getting hurt. (which may or may not have been my fault at times. innocently of course) Kai said that he'd look inside the neighbour's house in case Rhys was there. (I'm not going to get into how I felt when I heard him admit that he could be in the rancher home and not know if his own brother was there as well! I mean, how would you miss that? There aren't a lot of rooms to lose a sibling in!)

I stood in the front yard, looking at my house, looking down the road, looking at my neighbour's houses. Where do I start to look?  The neighbourhood was the quietest I've ever known it to be. No cars. No people walking. No kids. And no Rhys.

I felt lost.

And in those moments, I had to confront my biggest fears for Rhys ---he's not a Special Needs Child. But he is.

He can't fight back. He can't speak for himself. He doesn't recognize danger. And what do I do about that? How do I parent a child who is seven and should know even basic skills on danger and safety?

I felt lost.

Thankfully, Rhys was not lost in the end. More like misplaced. He was at our neighbour's house after all. While the older boys were on the computer, he was playing with toys, I think. He had no idea that I would want to know he went next door, and didn't understand why I was upset. The other kids didn't quite get my anxiety either -- I'm happy that they don't recognize that he's delayed, but I struggle with having to explain that he is not like his peers. I don't want to, but I also need them to understand.

While the kids went back to playing, I laid on the couch with chest pain, trying to calm down my body so I could breathe. I may have triggered a slight anxiety attack over that half hour ordeal!

I don't know what to do now. I feel inadequate in training and teaching Rhys. I know that it's normal to feel unprepared in parenting, but he is a different type of skill-level. I keep holding on, reminding myself that we'll get in at Sunny Hill and be assessed and it'll get better. But I don't know when that will be. I refuse to think of other possibilities -- that he may not come with answers -- because I need that hope to hold on to. That chance of having an answer, a name, a plan, a way to tackle his needs. I need to believe that someone out there will be able to help him and us.


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