That Father’s Day was the worst Father’s Day…but then again it wasn’t.This Was the Worst Father's Day...But It Wasn't|The Holy Mess

Ten minutes of vacuuming.

I’ll always remember Father’s Day that year blew up over a task that could have been completed in 10 minutes.

But to think of just obeying and doing the chore requires logic, and a child who is in the grip of a behavior melt down is not using logic.

Kids with Special Needs and Holidays

Kids who are adopted or have a history of trauma often struggle with holidays. (Check out this helpful post I co-wrote with a friend who grew up in foster care: 10 Tips to Help Kids with Special Needs Celebrate Holidays).

Even if our children don’t have specific negative memories, holidays stir up tons of emotions around family and identity.

Plus these kids can’t stand to see someone else get attention, and it’s not because they are selfish. They honestly feel on a core level that if they are not the center of attention, they are not loved. This is about survival.

(On birthdays and other special days that don’t revolve around him, I’ve since learned to take my son aside, look him in the eye, and say, “Just because it’s not your day doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I love you.”)

Happy Father’s Day

June, 2015

After church the kids and I head home to do a few quick chores and get ready for a simple Father’s Day cookout. Mike will join us after the church services are done, and his parents are coming over later. Bekah had made one of her famous chocolate desserts. 

When Mike arrives home one hour later, this is the scene that greets him.

The vacuum cleaner is knocked over and in pieces. Two dining room chairs are broken. Papers are strewn everywhere and the table is turned on its side. Dishes and food from a half-assembled meal are left neglected in the kitchen.

Our older three kids have locked themselves downstairs in their room and taken their younger brother with them.

Mike finds me upstairs standing in the hallway outside our son’s bedroom door, shaking.

Happy Father’s Day, honey.

What Are Our Options?

Our son is raging out of control.

Having dealt with his rages for years, it takes a lot to get Mike and me stirred, but the banging we hear coming from inside his room is ominous.

We are afraid to open the door. We hear more crashing.

We talk to him through the door and he doesn’t respond.

Another huge bang. The whole wall rattles. The floor under my feet shifts from the force of it.

I fleetingly wonder how much this repair will cost.

I pray for wisdom. God please, help us out here.

Mike and I debate about what to do. His safety plan says to call the police, but the last time we tried this, we didn’t have much success.

What are our options?

Mike stands guard by the door while I go into our bedroom to call the police, in what is now a routine conversation. Is it just me or does the responder have an agitated tone to his voice?

I notice that the police take 25 minutes to arrive, when it was only 5 minutes the first time.

It’s Not My Job to Parent.

When the officers arrive, I am downstairs waiting to greet them and my husband is upstairs in front of my son’s bedroom door. The officer goes upstairs to speak with my husband.

My strong husband. Still dressed in his clothes from church, he hasn’t had time to sit down, let alone eat one bite of his Father’s Day lunch. There are dark circles under his eyes. A father’s role is to protect his family. How can he shield his loved ones from a force that is tearing from the inside out?

“So open the door,” the officer says, “it’s not my job to parent. That’s your job.”

I’m standing at the bottom of the hallway steps but close enough that my husband and I are able to make eye contact. Raised to treat those in authority with respect, neither of us says anything, but after being married for 20 years we both know what the other is thinking. This guy is out of line.

The police officer yells through the door to my son that he is a police officer and they are coming inside. No response.

My husband opens the door.

The officer turns to my husband, his tone changed. “Yeah, we are going to need to call an ambulance here.”


It isn’t that my son has completely destroyed his room — although he has.

It isn’t that he had torn his dresser apart with his bare hands — although he has.

It isn’t that he had ripped off his curtain rod and used it to ram holes in his bedroom door and the drywall –although he has.

Because my son has gouged the protective covers out of the drywall (the ones that cover the whole outlet, that my husband had screwed in) and has shocked himself with the electricity, the police officer calls the ambulance.

Out of Sympathy

The officer goes outside to radio for an ambulance while my husband comes downstairs to whisper to me what is going on.

I sprint upstairs to check on my son.

I pick my way through the post-rage rubble.

He is curled up in a ball on his bed. Tossing aside assorted stuffed kitties, I begin the head-to-toe mother scan, touching his head, his arm.

“Are you all right?” I ask.

He doesn’t respond. I don’t know whether to be worried or really scared, so I go with angry.

“I SAID, are you ALL RIGHT?!” I practically shout in his ear.

“Yes,” he whispers.

“Good,” I answer, as I continue my maternal checks of fingers and toes. I can’t find any singe marks, and he appears to be fine.

“Am I in big, BIG trouble?” he asks.

“Yep, pretty much,” I answer.

Then I go back downstairs.

We Are Not Okay

I don’t know what will happen next.

The officer tells us the ambulance will take our son to the Children’s Hospital for further mental health evaluation.

We had never been in this place before. I have worried that my son would hurt me, but I never worried he would seriously hurt himself.

Will this get us the help we need?

Next post: What It’s Like to Take a Child to the ER for Mental Health Care

Still Standing

Still Standing|The Holy Mess

Bible Verse

For the righteous will never be moved;
    he will be remembered forever.

Psalm 112:6

Journal Prompt

Psalm 112:6 says the righteous will never be moved. God allows us to stay steady even in the most difficult of circumstances. Write about a time when God gave you the strength to stay steady.

This Was the Worst Father's Day...But It Wasn't|The Holy Mess


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