Tina Szymczak

I first knew something was amiss when 5 year old Jeremy said from his car seat “Mom let’s have a meeting” . I looked at him in the rear view mirror and asked “Why should we have a meeting?”

“Because you have meetings for Corbin all the time. You are always at a meeting. I want to have a meeting”.  I worked hard not to cry as it settled in just how much time we were spending on Corbin’s life and how little we spent on Jeremy.

“What would we do at the meeting?” I asked

“Do stuff that I want” and then he paused before saying “I will bring the pens and paper and you bring the Brownies”.

Such a simple exchange later lead to a deep discussion between Adam and I about how we could focus some of our attention on Jeremy. We agreed to each set aside some time to spend with him one on one. This worked for a while until around Jeremy’s 7th birthday when his brother, Corbin, went into crisis. As a result of undiagnosed BiPolar disorder Corbin wreaked havoc on our daily lives.  He often targeted his much younger brother and tried to include him in the highly imaginative world he seemed to be living in.  When a confused Jeremy said no Corbin would retaliate physically. Jeremy spent more and more time locked away in his room – though he could never escape the huge temper tantrums and diatribes that took place just outside his room. We were exhausted and spent every minute of every day wrapped up in Corbin and his challenges. Our relationships with Jeremy suffered.

When Corbin’s crisis lead to him being placed in a treatment facility 2 hours away we were understandably worried about him and missed him at home. However, we would have to admit that the house was quiet and calm – something it hadn’t been for close to a year.  During the two months Corbin was away we enjoyed our time with Jeremy. We could go to parks and libraries, we could eat at a restaurant and there were no calls from school. I was able to do the simplest of things with Jeremy such as helping him with his homework.  During this time Jeremy flourished and we worried about what would happen when Corbin came home.

Thankfully just before Corbin came home from the treatment centre we were approved for funding for workers to come to our home to support him.  This meant that I was free to continue to do the things with Jeremy we had established during Corbin’s absence. When Jeremy became jealous of the time Corbin had with his support worker we hired someone to come and spend time with him, acting much like a Big Brother would.

Now 4 years later Corbin is much more calm and under control. He still likes to play things like Star Wars and Jeremy is quickly outgrowing the games that Corbin has come to rely on.  It proves a challenge to help them negotiate with each other and I have to wonder if it is unfair when we sometimes push Jeremy to play with his brother.  However, things can’t be too bad as I asked Jeremy when writing this how he feels about having Corbin as his brother and he responded “It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s fun but sometimes its annoying.” Sounds like a typical sibling relationship to me. Imagine that – something typical in this atypical life of ours.

November 15, 2015

Something Typical

I first knew something was amiss when 5 year old Jeremy said from his car seat “Mom let’s have a meeting” . I looked at him in the rear view mirror and asked “Why should we have a meeting?” “Because you have meetings for Corbin all the time. You are always at a meeting. I want to have a meeting”.  I worked hard not to cry as it settled in just how much time we were spending on Corbin’s life and how little we spent on Jeremy. “What would we do at the meeting?” I asked “Do stuff that I want” and then he paused before saying “I will bring the pens and paper and you bring the Brownies”. Such […]
November 7, 2015

Update

So all is well in the Szymczak household (knock on wood) and it will be overwhelmingly better for Adam and I as we head to Las Vegas on Monday.  It will be our first time there and we are super stoked to go.  Adam’s mom will be watching both boys (keep her in your prayers). Corbin will still have his support staff so all will be good I am sure. In other great news I stepped on the scale the other day and I have lost 10lbs!. Great way to start a vacation.
October 28, 2015

Middle Of A Long Row

The weeks leading up to October 24, 2009 were very difficult ones. Corbin had been what we termed “spinning” – meaning that he had very high energy, was difficult to engage in anything meaningful, was having trouble at school and just seemed insatiable in so many ways.  Add to that his stutter and difficulty trying to “get his words out” they were all  impacting heavily on his day to day life. On Tuesday October 7th, 2009 my husband and I were notified by Corbin’s school that he had run from school property and was making statements about wanting to harm himself. Due to Corbin’s complex needs he can be very impulsive and reactive, yet he had never left school property […]
October 27, 2015

Our Son Had a Positive Transition to High School

Our Son had a Positive Transition to High School:    Why? Good Planning, Respect for Parental Knowledge and Excellent Teamwork High school was coming fast and just the thought of it filled me with dread. Our son, Corbin, was still only attending school part time in the 8th grade. This was due to many factors and was agreed upon by all parties including us, his parents. He had support of an Educational Assistant (EA) though we felt the EA was not a good match for Corbin and was part of the reason he was not flourishing at elementary school. Thinking of high school was daunting particularly because he has a lot anxiety and does not do well with change. The idea […]
October 18, 2015

To the 28 Year Old Me

You are about to meet the most adorable little boy who will make you a mother. His smile and laugh are the best. He gives hugs like no other and his inquisitiveness is infectious.  Your first few weeks of being a mom will mostly be wonderful. The first sign that things aren’t as amazing as they are meant to be is when you find yourself crying in Zellers in the sock aisle because no one has taught you what size of socks a 3 year old needs and there are so many choices. But don’t worry. No one saw you cry. That will come later. I probably don’t need to tell you that the crying over socks isn’t really about […]
October 12, 2015

He Will Be Okay

I began writing this 12 years ago and just finished it to submit to an online site (they passed, sniff) but I thought I would share it here. He moved quickly around the room – touching all that could be touched. I followed him, trying to head him off before he ran down the hallway. He went to the front desk and knocked all the papers off the table. I firmly helped him to pick them all up again. I could feel the eyes staring at me, judging me for not having better control of my child. I silently admonished myself. I should have known to not come so early, the waiting was just too much for him. I dug […]