The Rage Monster

Atlas Justice

Atlas was sleeping over at Mama J’s, while Dad had some very important family calls to make.

Everything was fine, lots of giggles and play — the garden hose, scattering and Dads shaving cream.

Atlas rocked on the couch in the media room, went into the playroom and did it there too.

He ate all his dinner and had a bubble bath, then crashed around ten with Looby the dog.

He woke during the night and jumped in with Mama J, he slept like a log until the next day.

Mama J didn’t get much sleep through the night, Atlas was all arms and legs — the little shite!

The next day was fine too, all enjoying the peace, while Looby ran around patrolling the place.

Then out from nowhere Atlas lost his sh*t! He scratched and he screeched, yowled and then bit!

Out came the fingernails, the gnashing of teeth but Atlas couldn’t say why because he couldn’t speak.

Mama J put the move on him and held both his hands, non-violent crisis intervention was planned.

Still, poor Atlas stomped and he kicked, he didn’t like being held, not one little bit!

After a while when he’d let out his rage, he burst into tears like a lost boy being saved.

Mama J went into action, soothing the little man, told him everything was alright and that he’d be OK.

It took a wee while but they came to a truce, Dad was on his way home and Atlas was dressed.

(Mama J had a bit of time to clean up some mess).

His bag was packed and Looby had stopped barking, they were patiently waiting for the gate to swing open.

Atlas rested his head on Mama J’s shoulder and she stroked his hair and gave him a cuddle.

Atlas and Mama J had scratches all over, so she applied Pawpaw cream to make it all better.

Then just as expected Dad finally arrived, a zombie-kind-of-cooked dad, but very much alive.

Atlas was almost back home to himself but much more subdued and with flushed cheeks as well.

Dad chatted with Mama J about the night he had had, celebrating the beloved Anna-Marie.

(with Rita and Bobby, Sonya and friend).

When it was time for both of them to leave, Dad gave Mama J a big hug and a kiss.

Atlas walked away quietly holding onto Dad’s arm, then Looby and Mama J crashed out on the couch.

Atlas Justice & Mama J (Jodine Derena Butler)

© Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All Rights Reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising 2022

Looby — Get Out of the Way!

Dad is making breakfast in the kitchen.

The toaster goes FffAP!

Two slices of toast leap into the air, flying crumbs are everywhere.

Looby sitting under foot, pricks her ears and has a look.

Dad nearly jumps out of his skin and Atlas turns to see the din.

Dad swivels to catch the flying toast but Looby was standing way too close.

A paw, a slipper, a yelp and a shriek, dad nearly crashes head first in the sink!

One of them knew just what to say, it was dad telling Looby, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is hanging out the washing in the garden.

The screen door goes THhhUNK!

Atlas came out to show dad his toy, Looby had followed and was full of joy.

She waddled and sniffed, chose a fine spot, and what do dogs do? She sat down to squat.

She grunted and sneezed, hunched and then squeezed – this time it wasn’t only just wees!

She scratched and pawed, bumped into dad’s leg – knocked him off balance what more could be said?

Dad took a step back and stood in the poo, threw his hands in the air and said, ‘not this too!’

He hopped as he landed while she jumped away, ‘for goodness sake Looby, GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is bringing Atlas’ lunch by the pool.

A ball hits his head with a TWAaCK!

Dad had to juggle or else he would trip, a plate of full of sandwich’s had started to tip.

A handful of odd sorts of things left his fingers, poor Dad had to struggle just to stay nimble.

Atlas was splashing, giggling and such, a huge smile on his face watching the fuss.

Then out from under the table shot Looby, spying a sandwich – her lunch had come early!

Dad’s face had gone red, he was losing his sh*t, he’d had enough, he was over it!

She was up-setting the balance that day, ‘for goodness sake Looby, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is cleaning Atlas’ bedroom.

The vacuum cleaner goes PffMPT!

Dad peered down at a half eaten sock, ‘Oh no’ he said, the nozzle was blocked!

He bent down to fix it and pull it out, but Looby the dog would have none of it.

She jumped up and yapped and then bit the bar, Looby was taking it way too far!

Atlas had wandered away up the stairs, both of his fingers were shoved in his ears.

None of them wanted to deal with the mess, first it was breakfast now it was this!

Dad rolled his eyes and started to shake, ‘for goodness sake Looby, GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is preparing everyone’s dinner.

The pantry door slams shut with a SLAaP!

Atlas had been helping himself! He thought he would sneak a handful of stuff.

Fistfuls of crackers, biscuits and junk, he was not going to eat what Dad made with love.

Dad took those things off him and had a fit, he growled at poor Atlas and told him to sit.

Typical Looby had started to bark, protecting the family from imagined  harm.

She ran in then away, yapping all the while, a barrel of legs, ears and snout and a nub for a tail.

Dad barked right back and told her to stay! ‘For goodness sake Looby, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is resting in his lounge chair.

The volume on Atlas’ ipad goes UP!

Atlas was listening to clips at the table –  balloons pop, things rip and the sound of crunched gravel.

Dad’s tired eyelids were about to close, he’d sneak a quick nap while the boy was amused.

Needless to say the day was not over, what more could happen Dad started to wonder?

Looby was asleep in between Dads leg’s, but the sound going up, had hurt Looby’s ears.

All of a sudden she jumped up and barked, stood on Dad’s balls and did a loud fart!

Dad’s eyes flew open, he grimaced in pain, ‘for goodness sake Looby, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Dad is putting Atlas to bed.

The curtain rod fell off, hit the floor with a CLAaaNK!

Atlas had had fun, he’d trashed his room, toys were all scattered and clothes were all strewn.

Looby was standing all dopey and still, it was her bedtime, and she knew the drill.

She decided to be as quiet as a mouse, she was all sleepy and very tired herself.

Dad had to sort things and put them up high, but he tripped over Looby and let out a cry!

He stubbed his toe on the end of the bed, fell over head first, what more could be said?

He grimaced in pain, grabbed his foot and he howled, once again he raged ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’

Finally it was the end of the night, dad sat down in his chair and closed his eyes.

Looby had scratched and scrunched up her bed, did a few circles then lay down her head.

Atlas was curled up and fast asleep, it had been a big day, he was out to it.

The night was so quiet and everywhere was still. Goodnight dear family, sweet dreams and sleep well.

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising, 2022

The Process of Evolving with a Special Needs Child

Atlas Justice

Life is good
But sometimes it’s incredibly hard.

Atlas wakes up at 5am, jumps into bed and snuggles me. He’s wet, but I’m too tired to move except to throw my arm over him and pray he’ll fall back to sleep. Peace, lasted all of ten minutes.

Sleep deprivation creates at atmosphere that’s blurry at best and tunnel visioned at worst. Quick to rise, de-escalation tactics take all my efforts to stay cool, calm and reasonably collected while I fumble through toast and a nappy change.

I make my coffee, roll a cigarette and head outside to watch the sunrise from the balcony. So far, so good. Atlas is giggling with his iPad, seated at the table and picking at his breakfast. Happy, lasted all of 10 minutes.

He doesn’t want toast, he wants something from the pantry instead except that’s not going to happen. Out come the fingernails – gouging and scratching and a temperamental defiance that escalates into a full blown tantrum.

Matty storms out of the bedroom, red-eyed and livid and puts his foot down. Peace, lasts all of another ten minutes before the pattern repeats.

I’ve had enough too. Gone are my attempts to keep the child’s mood on an even keel, gone are those feelings of inadequacy that I can’t contain Atlas long enough to let his father have a much needed sleep-in and so I take him to his bedroom, shut the stairwell gate and try to discipline the problem.

I fail miserably.

Snap! The proverbial shit hits the fan once again and this time, silence is a warning best served cold. Matty descends, a leg is slapped, a door is slammed and peace returns for at least an hour this time.

Meanwhile, I contemplate taking Atlas out of the house for a drive before he starts the cycle again. I panic. My clothes are in the bedroom, I’m not sure where the car keys are, will Matty approve, will Atlas lose it in the car anyway? I decide to wait a while longer. My jaw is sore from grinding my teeth.

Matty needs respite but I’m all there is and so we lurch from dawn to well into the early hours, exhausted and running on fumes.

Atlas is a cockblocker too.

The countdown to esctasy on hold for the indefinite future. Foreplay, fails to get either of us off the ground or high enough to move to first base, let alone dive in fingers first and squeeze one out. The conditions of our release barely blow off steam and the only thing getting hard, is life for the next two months, while we reassess the situation.

A temporary adjustment. Life is actually pretty good. Most days Atlas is on form and we make a great team but school holidays with a child with special needs, without any respite, requires strategy.

© Copyright 2022, Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All rights reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising, 2022