Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tornado House

If you're ever wondering why my house is such a mess, don't just think it's because I'm lazy and don't clean up. Here's why my house refuses to stay clean. For several weeks now, Holland has been obsessed (that's what bipolar will do to you) about finding this old pager that DH used to use. We don't have phone service on it, but the games still work. One night after I put Egypt to bed, I was downstairs playing a game of Rummikub with Romania and dad. Last time I had checked, Holland was upstairs playing with Legos. So I left him alone. When the game was over, I started to walk upstairs and Holland was coming down. He said, "I kind of made a mess upstairs." I said, okay. Where, in your room? "No, kind of all over." It was even worse than I could have pictured. The whole hallway was strewn with dirty clothes, clean clothes, toys, books, games. My room had baskets of laundry dumped out, drawers pulled out of my dresser, boxes taken off the armoire, books everywhere. This mess didn't even include his room or his brothers. Toys, legos, clothes, boxes out of the closet. It literally looked like a tornado had swept through the house. I just sat down on the bed and cried. It was 8 o'clock at night and I was exhausted. And looking at this mess, I knew it would be awhile before I got to bed. It's so hard not to be mad at him. Anything you say will send him into orbit. I asked him to help me clean up and he just starts yelling at me and ran screaming down the hall.

So, I did the only thing I could do. I told my husband that I was leaving and could he please help Holland clean it up. It was awful, but I just couldn't look at it and not think how angry I was. This sort of thing happens every day. He doesn't just make a project or try to invent something. He goes to extremes emptying drawers trying to find what he's looking for. Or uses up an entire roll of tape trying to put two things together that have no business being together. He takes supplies out of the school room (I bought him his own supplies hoping it would solve this problem. It didn't). I'm out of two boxes of pencils and it's only November. He staples everything together. He mixes things in the sink in his bathroom and a couple of times on the floor in his room.

Raising a kid with bipolar is about extremes. It's not just about extremes of mood; believe me, he can do that, too. It's impulsivity. I remember when he was being evaluated, the doctor was asking me about his behavior and if he was impulsive. I told him about this time when Holland made greeting cards to sell to people in the neighborhood. It's a great idea. But he did it at 6 in the morning. He walked door to door trying to get money for his cards. He was probably just 5 years old and we didn't even know he'd left the house.

I'm learning (not through with this lesson yet) about patience. It's a very exhausting existence to keep correcting these extreme behaviors. So the next time you see me at the mall, it's probably because my house has had a tornado blow through and I'm surveying the damage from a safe distance.

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