The Best Things I Bought For My Brain (2019 Edition)
Blow Us All Away, Part Ezra

The Loop, Part Infinity

It's IEP meeting season, again, and supercharged.

It's Noah's re-evaluation year AND time to start planning for his transition to high school (!!!!!WAT!!!!!) next September. His meeting was mostly spent debating whether he continues to qualify for special education services, was a short meeting, because surprise! He's got Autism. Still! Imagine that. My mother-in-law will be so disappointed. Must've been the flu shot. Or our lack of interest in essential oils. 

So he won't be losing any supports or services this year -- if anything, he'll get more, since the middle school team likes to send kids off to high school with fully loaded IEPs, and then let us decide once he's made the transition if anything is overkill or unnecessary. 

I was also expecting Ike's meeting to be similarly short and to-the-point -- we'd just had parent/teacher conferences and gone over alllll his reading progress and goals last week -- so of course, I was thrown for yet another loop when the team expressed their universal worry that Ike is showing symptoms of anxiety and depression. 




"He's just not the same Ike this year," the school psychologist said. "I've known him since kindergarten. Something is different now."

And it's true, he's been coming home with almost nothing but tales of dramatic woe. No one likes him. No one plays with him. Everyone makes fun of him and laughed when he fell down on the playground and had to go to the school nurse and she gave him an X-ray and told him he wasn't allowed to do chores for at least 18 days. 

He has multiple good friends from our neighborhood, but according to him, they refuse to play with at recess. According to his teachers, it's because he doesn't ask and instead runs to a bench to sulk the whole time, rebuffing any and all offers to play from anyone else. When I ask him about this, he'll say that he TRIED to ask his friend A to play, but then the whole school started teasing him because A is a girl, and now A doesn't want to play with him because she doesn't want to get teased anymore. 

This...never happened. A lives three houses up the street. She comes to our house to play multiple times a week. I buy Girl Scout cookies from her. Her family came to Friendsgiving. When I ask him again about this, I get another wild tale of bullying and heartbreak and catastrophic playground injuries that SOMEHOW the school nurse forgot to call me about. 

His teacher tried to get Ike to write a personal narrative about a true story that happened to him. He told her about the time a car ran over his arm when he was three, and then how he broke his leg when he was four. When she suggested maybe he write about something a little happier, he said, "I don't have any happy memories. Nothing good has ever happened to me."

He ended up writing a personal narrative about diffusing a ticking time bomb in the school science lab with his dad and his brother. His teacher knew it wasn't true, but was just glad he come up with something that had a happy ending. (Though I'm sure his first draft insisted that yes, the school totally blew up. It probably happened on a day she used a substitute.)

It was these flights of wild fabulist fantasy that made me sign him up for an after school drama program, thinking that he just needed more creative outlets and maybe a wee extra bit of attention and audience applause. And he IS genuinely enjoying it so far -- he only came home once with a story about someone being mean to him, but then they got kicked out of the show for being bad at singing, so it's okay now. But at school, the stories continue.

And unfortunately, despite almost none of these stories having any basis in reality, Ike now views all his peers with suspicion and has completely withdrawn from them. If we run into someone he knows at Target or the grocery store, he recoils from their cheery "Hi Ike!" as if he's been slapped. He glares at the floor and refuses to say hello back. I've asked him SO MANY TIMES what's going on. I chaperoned his damn field trip just to get a sense of where this is all coming from and maybe discover which kids were being little shits to him, and instead found an entire classroom of friendly, engaged and well-behaved children who clearly have NO PROBLEM with Ike, and in fact seem a little baffled at his rejection of them

Meanwhile, I watched Ike try to curl himself into a small ball at his desk and disappear. He made faces and scowled at everyone around him and refused to participate in a group counting game. I made pleading eye contact with him, mouthing "what's WRONG??" over and over again. I don't think he knew. Because I think it was probably everything. 

I know that feeling. All too damn well, unfortunately. Genetics! A hell of thing.

Ike is a smart kid with a learning disability. Anxiety and depression are very common for kids like him. I knew this too! 

And yet I still didn't really know. I didn't see it. Consider it a retroactive lightbulb moment.


The school has ordered several new psychological assessments. We won't be waiting for the results. 



Wow. I am so sorry he is going through this! And I can’t imagine the feelings you all are having. We all support you and we love your family!


All the hugs. My daughter is severely dyslexic and has very mild ADD and a variety of middling issues with executive function and sensory stuff, and we have a family history of depression (me, my father, my half-sister) and other mental illness, and my husband has undiagnosed but textbook (not as-seen-in-a-movie don'tgetmestarted) high-functioning OCD. So yeah, we're watching her like a hawk. So far, she's not showing signs of depression or anxiety, but the odds are not in her favor. I'm so glad the red flags have gone up for Ike--well, not that it's happened, but that you've seen them--and can now act. It's exhausting, thinking you've finally figured this out and then they get a year older and change again and holy heck what is happening NOW?? You can do this. A horde of internet strangers love you and are rooting for you and Ike (and Noah in HS what the ever-loving eff) in a totally not inappropriate and creepy way, you know what I mean.


Wow. I could have written this exact story 11 years ago. My daughter had the same teacher in 4th grade as she’d had in 2nd. She asked to meet with me and said “what happened to her, she’s not the same kid”. I’d just had a baby and had been denying to myself all the signs I’d seen. We started a long journey of doctors, diagnosis, and drugs that we’re still chugging down. She’s now a college student, living in another state, pursuing her professional dancer dreams, yet constantly updating her battle plan against anxiety and depression.

Katie H.

It's so hard. And you guys have done exceptionally well making sure each of them has what they need (while trying to keep your own lives afloat!). I know my daughter has struggled with several things that are definitely born of my screwed up DNA and I feel guilty about it. But who better to understand and help than someone who's gone through it and at least has that knowledge under their belt?

I do love that Ike has such a great imagination and obviously his talent will serve him well once he can "control" it a little more. Maybe he'll turn out to be a famous writer or movie director! I just hope he finds some peace very soon.


Sending hugs.


So sorry. This parenting stuff is hard!


Just wanted to let you know you have another person rooting for you all. ❤️



It breaks my heart to read this. I know that lonely experience. I’m sorry this is happening, but I have every confidence in your’s and Jason’s ability to champion Ike.

All the love. ❤️


I hear you. Both of my boys have a team of doctors already and are both on antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds and they are 11. I didn’t have the doctors/meds until I was 18. I guess they start younger these days. I am happy that we are getting our boys the tools/supports they need but it sure does suck that they got this particular genetic component from me. I’ll be pulling for Ike. ❤️

Cheryl S.

Poor Ike. My daughter has severe anxiety. I started to see it when she was about 5, but it became unbearable and seriously started affecting her life around 10ish. [And yes, she gets it from me. Just another thing to add to the mom-guilt list]
Zoloft has been a MIRACLE for her. I know it's tough thinking about medicating a child that young, but it has been totally worth it. She's 14 now and in High School. She's doing amazing. She still has anxiety (of course), but it is so much better.

Hang in there Ike! (And hang in there Mom!)


Oof. I have so much sympathy for that retroactive penny drop moment. There’s nothing quite like suddenly looking at your child and thinking “holy fuck! It’s anxiety! 24/7 anxiety! My poor baaaaaby! No wonder you’ve been a complete demon child for the last....oh long has it taken me to realize????” Ever so glad all your boys have the two of you on their team.


What a wonderful school to have noticed this when they did. We didn't get any indication that our daughter had an issue until 8th grade and by then she had been suffering alone for years. Ike is lucky to have parents who get it and will do everything they can to support him. XO


Sending you so much love, and your whole sweet family.


Sending lots of virtual hugs and support to you guys <3


These children know/feel that they don't FIT and reject those who welcome them; no easy solution


So glad that Ike is getting some help, double glad that you are his mom and so you’ve got this. Holding y’all in the light.


Ike is so lucky to have two supportive parents who are working to get him whatever assistance he needs.

brigid cianfrani

Sending love and support!


All the hugs to Ike and to you all.
He has the best parents on his team and we're all rooting for him (in a non-creepy but internetty way)

Emily G

So much this. ♥️ Genetics can be such a bitch, but having better resources than our parents is a godsend. We *will* get our children the help that they need and break the generational anxiety cycle. It runs in the family, but this is where it runs out.

Anna A

Love to you and Ike. You're doing great, mama.


Love love love to you! Sweet, handsome boy!


So sorry things are tough for your sweet little guy. Lots of love to Ike and all of you.


Co-signing Emily G’s comment above — this is where it. runs. out. Best wishes to you all!

Amy A

I’m so very glad you and Ike’s teachers were able to recognize this, and hopeful and optimistic he’ll get the proper treatment. Boy have we come a long way since I was a kid, who had undiagnosed depression/anxiety. Granted, it was fifty years ago, but I suffered way too long and didn’t get proper treatment until my forties (I’m now sixty.) I’m confident Ike will emerge his true self, and even better, once that nasty D/A is squelched.


As one of two kids in our home, with parents who either didn't see it or just chose to "will it away," thank you for seeing Ike. I'm so sorry he's going through it, and I'm so sorry that you are, too, but omg I think about what it might have been like if my sister and I'd learned any tools to manage mental health before our 20s brings up a lot of feelings. You and Jason are good, good parents doing the hard work to help your kids be healthy in all aspects of the word. Thank you. <3


My just-turned-11 year old daughter is in the same boat. Please keep sharing how you help him because I need all the advice I can get. Hugs to you, Mama. It is hard.


When I was 8 or so I went through a period of time where I took naps, which to me now is a read flag. My parents always did their best and took me seriously, but there just wasn’t the information out there the way there is now.

I can only imagine how horrible it was to hear as a parent that he’s struggling this way but thank goodness you heard it now. I don’t know if we can completely avoid issues in adulthood (can anyone?) but he will be in a much better place because of you and your husband ❤️

The comments to this entry are closed.