Posts tagged ‘spirited child’
I often marvel at the timing of things in my life as C’s parent. People compliment me on the positive spin I put on autism, and I am often reluctant to express great sadness or frustration. Yet lately, sadness and frustration have been our norm. It’s as though we’re living a lie. To all looking in from the outside, everything probably looks great, but at home we’re falling apart. So near tears am I at so many points of the day I find myself grateful for a respite in both my own work and C’s school.
C’s behavior the last couple of months has been horrendous. He’s Jekyll and Hyde from home to anywhere but home. Fits, tantrums, defiance, and completely uncontrollable behavior have taken me to the end of my rope and convinced me that I am quite possibly the worst parent ever to roam the Earth. I’ve always said I could understand how the divorce rate for parents with children with autism is so much higher than the national average, but I never really got it until now. It’s not that we differ in our opinions on what to do for/with/about C, but rather, by the time we’re done dealing with him, we have no energy left to give to our relationship. I’m thankful, through these difficult periods, that we are so fully committed to our marriage and to C. It probably allows for a certain amount of taking each other for granted, but I don’t think either one of us is up for tending to each other’s needs at the moment.
Yet just when I don’t think there is any light to be found in this tunnel, something happens to remind me it’s not completely dark here in my life as C’s parent. As I watched him tonight, miraclulously shoveling fistfulls of salmon and rice (two foods he’s never had) into his mouth, not gagging or covering his ears with his hands (shaking them instead, but we’ll take that), I was given a bit of happiness to temper everything else that’s been going on lately. I was reminded that I do enjoy being a mother while he read me a book, his voice full of inflection, clarity and excitement. His behavior made me revel in the entertainment of dealing with “sometimes almost typical” instead of “creature from the wicked planet.” Even if tomorrow is back to terrible, I will have at least had this brief moment of joy that will help me get through to the next moment of joy. And it is for that I am thankful this night.
I vaguely remember reading parenting books while I was pregnant that had brief discussions about how kids will go through a phase of pushing the boundaries. I’m also pretty sure I remember the books saying the phase would be relatively short-lived, although I now wonder if they were talking about real time or geologic time. I wonder this because ever since C could talk, he has been testing us. Not daily, not hourly, but (on some days) nearly every single moment of the day.
At one point I thought I had found the answer, and rushed to the bookstore to buy a book I’d heard about called Raising the Spirited Child. I actually laughed when I read the book, thinking these people had no concept of what a spirited child actually is. The examples in the book are like child’s play compared to C’s spiritedness.
C doesn’t test at school, for which I am thankful. I tell myself there’s a huge difference between the structure of school, where one is not always allowed to say exactly what’s on one’s mind whenever one so desires. It’s different at home, I think to myself. With this, I manage to keep the thoughts of questionable parenting at bay, despite knowing we are the most consistent parents I know. Truth be told, C isn’t misbehaving; he’s simply constantly testing every single boundary that’s been set, and many more that haven’t even been considered yet. Disturbingly, my memory is taken back to the movie Jurassic Park, in which the dinosaur wrangler says, about the velociraptors, “…They were attacking the fences…never the same place twice…they were testing the fences for weaknesses, systematically. They remember.”
It’s no wonder Husband and I often wander around like we’ve been slapped silly and don’t know what hit us. We have that glazed over, “deer caught in headlights” look that is so common in parents whose children challenge them in one way or another. We breathe a sigh of relief when sleep finally quiets C’s constantly working mind, and for us, sleep isn’t long after. We’re done, tired, zapped, fried.
Leave house 20 minutes before school is out even though we live 2 minutes away from school to ensure spot in front of pick-up line. Be glad C and what loosely could be called “friend” B have stopped bickering over whose mother comes first which always ends up in tears for C because either B’s mother came first or because B is upset because I came first. Be annoyed that the newest pick-up obsession is that I have to be in first 10 cars in line. Be annoyed at self for giving into this neurosis but know that picking up a crying child is not a good thing and know that this obsession, too, shall pass. Worry about what next obsession will be.
Arrive at school, am car number 7, breathe sigh of relief. Turn car off and listen to radio to try and catch up on day’s news. Be reminded that many, many millions of people have stresses far worse than ours, resolve to be happy, positive, thankful person. Feel blessed. Wait for bell to ring. Watch for C to come out of building and know simply by the way he waves before approaching car will explain tone of his entire day. Be happy when wave is appropriately jubilant and resist opening door from inside as newly found independence in opening door is a good thing as long as fingers don’t get slammed. Encourage him to get in car before starting to tell about his day as there are approximately 10 zillion cars behind us waiting to pick up their kids. Remind him to be careful closing door and silently chuckle remembering the time when door was simply too heavy and he fell right back out of car onto sidewalk. Revel in fact that he’s socially aware enough that he actually felt embarrassment at that incident, and marvel at how quickly I got out of the car and around to the other side to see if he was okay (he was). Wonder if I could ever move that fast again.
Get door closed, pull away, stop once past the pick-up line to buckle into 5-point harness mentioned before. Ask about day, about special, about who sat by at lunch, who played with at recess. Listen to recitation of school announcements, lunch menu, which classes had perfect attendance and wonder if anyone else in the entire school even listens to that stuff half as carefully. Wonder about streaming text TV they have in classroom and be amazed that C ever tears his eyes away from it. Wonder if they’re putting subliminal messages in there somewhere because if anyone would have them sink in it would be C.
Get home, greet dog, wash hands, empty backpack, talk about homework, make snack. Wonder when this will become routine enough that I don’t have to prompt, and figure it will become routine about the time school is out for summer. Have snack, do something fun or have in-house therapy session. Start thinking about dinner, plan dinner, get dinner started for grown-ups, make dinner for C. Preferably (for him) something that can be dipped in ketchup. Search shelves of freezer making sure to get proper GF/CF/egg free for C and be impressed with self that I finally gave each family member their own shelf with special food on it. Wonder how we got so many allergies in one family and remind self Husband doesn’t have any allergies and it’s really just self and C who have 9 zillion allergies between us. Eat dinner, stay at table afterward to do homework. Remind C to write slowly and wonder if am striking appropriate balance between Encouraging Mommy, Nice Mommy and Task Master Mommy. Take bath (complete with epsom salts to draw out toxins, baking soda to draw down stomach acid, and vapor bubbles to draw out sneezes). Get out, slather in lotion made of absolutely nothing because absolutely everything causes rashes, put jammies on, make up silly compound words because THAT IS WHAT WE DO after a bath.
Do bedtime chores, wonder if we’ll ever be able to move box of baby toothpaste closer to toothbrush area (step 4 in the 90 step process necessary to introduce toothpaste, which he has never used), and be thankful he seems to have inherited good teeth. Wonder how he will ever, ever, ever get through a full dentist appointment. Resove to make using toothpaste a summer goal. Remind self to start a list of all these summer goals I keep thinking about and wonder again about being Task Master Mommy.
Read book together, have a few minutes of hang out time, remind Daddy it’s time for lights out. Watch Daddy get cup of ice water, go into C’s room and sing song. Collapse on couch as Daddy finishes song, turns out lights, turns on noise machine, shuts blinds, and exits room, shutting the door to the exact same spot every single night.
Breathe for a few minutes and take bets with Husband as to how many times C will call one of us. Try to be Nice Mommy because C going to sleep unhappy does not make for a restful night for anyone. Try to balance patience (when C calls for us 13th time) with certain knowledge that we are completely and utterly allowing ourselves to be manipulated.
Crash on couch again and laugh at self when I think of how much I thought I’d get done tonight.