Let me start with some background. V is Autistic. T may also be Autistic. These are facts I’ve known since before the Nerdmate and I became more than friends. So when he and I began our relationship, and I began to see a future for us I knew that I might become an Autism parent. Now that the path has been set, I have become Mama. Which means I am an Autism Mama. And with that comes great joy, great responsibility, and sometimes great sadness and frustration.
And here’s the thing about being Autism Parent: You are never as prepared as you think you are. Nothing really prepares you for the tantrum in a science museum that leads to taking a screaming seven-year-old out of the building and forcing him into the car while the parking lot stares at you. You are never really prepared for that fantastic combination of embarrassment because “oh my gosh everyone is looking at us” and shame because you are so angry at your kid and so embarrassed by them. Being the parent of an Autistic child is full of challenges; there are days when things are great, and there are days when everything is rough going. You have to take the rough days with the good ones and try to find balance. It’s OK to love your kids but be frustrated by their behavior. It’s OK to adore the munchkins but feel embarrassed when they lose it in the parking lot in front of everyone. It’s OK to be human.Here's the thing about being Autism Parent: You are never as prepared as you think you are. Click To Tweet
V has been a bit grumpy lately, and we’ve been having issues with his behavior and attitude. He’s been obstinate, argumentative, and, I’ll just be perfectly honest, a bit of a brat. Sunday was a rough day. We’d had a great day the day before. He’d overslept and woken up in a mood, but eventually he turned it around. We even managed to go to the pool here at the Nerd Cave with very little incident. But Sunday was a bit of a disaster. From the moment he woke up, we had problems. It started with silly behavior, which soon turned into more problematic things like angry outbursts and refusing to do anything he was asked without being asked fifteen times and having to be reminded that he was going to get into trouble for not doing it. The real problems began when we decided to take the kids to the park since the weather was so nice.
Sunday at the Park
In our rush to get two children and three adults, the Nerdmate’s mother is in town for a week or so, out of the apartment, we neglected to douse them in sunscreen. The supplies were in my bag, along with T’s ankle braces and other necessities, so we just assumed it would be no big deal to get them before they started playing. T isn’t a problem; she whines and tries to pull away because sunscreen and braces are boring and swings are the most fun a little girl can have ever. But honestly, that’s what happens when a three-year-old needs to be sprayed with sunscreen and eventually we got her all covered. V on the other hand was not here for this idea at all. He screamed and yanked away from us when after a blunt refusal to stop what he was doing we essentially corralled him in order to coat him with armor against skin cancer. This was followed by a mad dash toward the parking lot, where he managed to get all the way to Grammie’s rental car and refused to come back to us without a lot of persuasion and the threat of no pool time.
It only got worse; eventually V announced that he didn’t want to do anything. Literally the boy told us he didn’t want to do anything fun, repeatedly. It was infuriating. Even after we got him to rejoin the group, it was only in the sense that he was within 20 feet of us so we could see him. He would not interact or play; he simply drank his water and stood there. From the outside it looked so monumentally stupid. How exactly were we being punished by his refusal to enjoy himself at the park? What was he gaining by standing next to the swing, spinning it around, instead of having fun on a gorgeous day at the park?
On top of that, I had to stay pretty far away because he was in one of those moods where he ran from me or yelled and got very upset if I tried to talk to him. This behavior carried on for most of the day, even after we got back to the Nerd Cave, and so by the time he left us to spend time with his Grammie we were exhausted. After T was picked up by Mommy – Yes, I understand that it’s confusing but I’m Mama and the kids’ bio mom is Mommy – we settled in to prepare for a couple of days of work before we took a long weekend for some adventures.
——T I M E J U M P——-
Flashing Forward to Thursday
Last night was open house at V’s school; so we went and met with his teacher and go all the necessary information for the coming year. I’m thrilled with his teacher, who seems to be as focused on reading as I am, and everyone adores him. He can be a challenging kid, but he’s also an extremely popular kid. He’s greeted by smiling faces and bright hellos, and he’s got a great assistant who works with him daily. I think this year is going to be a good one.
Today was his first day of the school year. Mostly it was a quick morning session to get them acquainted with their new schedules and Monday will be the first full day. V had an awesome first day. He was very excited and even ran into the school building. Bonus good news was that he got to ride the bus home, which is one of his favorite things about school. He likes his teacher, with whom he has already bonded some since last year, and he came home to tell us all about it. As an even bigger bonus, his Grammie, the retired school teacher, has been working on holding a pencil and writing, and there has been some amazing progress. His writing is improving with just a week and so has his grip.
This exciting new development was a bit blemished by the fact that when he arrived this afternoon his first words to me were “You go away now” and it spiraled from there. It’s painful. I won’t sugar coat it. When he refuses to come upstairs or asks to leave its like being kicked in the stomach with a steel toed boot. When he literally tells me to go away or get out or raises his hand to cover his eyes and hides while shouting “I block you” its like those same boots slamming into my teeth. I have, after a particularly nasty round with V, cried. It’s heartbreaking. That rejection, no matter how much you tell yourself that it’s not intentional or meant to be hurtful, is incredibly painful. Things eventually turned around, but it was a rough couple of hours. As I’m writing this, V’s at the movies with his Grammie, seeing Despicable Me 3, and we are back at the Nerd Cave with T watching her dance and giggle and celebrating the fact that she ate a new flavor of rice cakes and drank V8 Splash instead of apple juice. What’s next T? Drinking out of a cup with a straw? Cooperating when we brush your hair? The world is full of possibilities!