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The Impossible Child - Page 4


I remember clearly the day my father asked me if Evan might need to see a psychiatrist. His well-intended suggestion landed on me like a slap in the face. From his point of view, Evan's misbehavior seemed pathological. But, as I saw it, the standard psychiatric tools were unlikely to be helpful. I knew the DSM-IV forward and backward, and our situation didn't fit into any of those boxes. This was not Depression, nor was it Anxiety. It was not Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Maybe it was Oppositional Defiant Disorder, but what was a psychiatrist going to do about that?

One day as I was driving Evan to school, he said, "I wish Maria Montessori was in my class." I looked at him quizzically and asked why. "Because then maybe I could have a good day," he explained. As he saw it, only the benevolent spirit of the founder of his preschool could help him. The rest of us were clueless.

A week later he was sent home from school for slapping Susan in the face. I held him in my lap and tried to comfort him as he cried hysterically.

"We have to take down the school," he sobbed. "We have to, Mom. All the boards and all the nails. We have to take it down."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I'm always bad there," he insisted.

These conversations--and many more just like them--devastated me. Every night, I fell into bed, exhausted by the day's failures, by my confusion, by the unrelenting struggle. And Evan was unhappy. "I wish God didn't make me to do bad things," he lamented one night just before he drifted off to sleep. As I groped in the dark for a reply, he added, "I think God feels sorry for me."

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