Sometimes I want to pinch myself – because it seems too smooth; and then the last several days happen and while still so much better than they were – I remember.
I remember, and I whisper little thank you’s, I let them fall out of my lips into the air, releasing them into the wild to land on whoever has been overseeing things.
I remember to be grateful. I stop and take a moment to remember where we were, and I remember that it is important to take stock and acknowledge that vast timeline between then and now.
I don’t have to remember to be proud. I can’t help feeling that, it is all pervasive.
This weekend we averted what could have been a very public, very loud meltdown in the grocery store.
To understand the situation – let me explain what I don’t think I have touched on much. My son has just turned 13. He is 5’9, he looks much older than he is. He is autistic. He is so much more than autistic, but over time, I’ll be able to touch on more of his awesome. For now – understand that he looks like he is 16 years old. Often, no one sees he is autistic right away. They expect him to act like the teenager he appears to be. But he doesn’t, and he can’t.
It was my fault.
We were procrastinating – as we do, because we did not want to go grocery shopping. I had mentioned that evil Wendy’s had those damned pretzel bun sandwiches, that looked bloody delicious to my husband, and we hovered over the coffee maker with our heads together trying to strategize some way of doing that for dinner without letting on to ‘the boy’. We figured we would see how well we did grocery shopping and maybe we’d be able to swing it. It was very loose. (We have to be super careful, we are one of those paycheck to paycheck types and we rarely get all the way to the next one. I digress)
Well, the kidlet has a routine thing he does – its often a conversation that starts out as “Where are we going today?” if I say – “Nowhere” He gets very upset, and will then grill me on “When” When will we go anywhere? Will we stay in here forever? Until we die? We are never leaving the house again? Ever?
This is a pattern of most conversations. If i say “Not right now.” it always starts a litany of “We are never having/doing/ (something) ever again?” and there is always that looming threat that if I say the wrong thing, at the wrong time, in the wrong way, when he is in the wrong frame of mind – he will flip out.
Our life is a dance.
Our life is a crazy highland dance with really sharp swords and not the safer combat ready blunted blades.
Or that wacky weird game people play where they stab a table faster and faster at the space between their splayed fingers.
(What do you even call that game and does anyone know what I am talking about? Did I invent said thing in my own head, surely not.)
So- I was trying to read something. I was trying to read something for a half hour, and each time I would re-read a sentence, I would get “Hey Mom?”d about something. I just wanted to finish the paragraph. He wanted to know WHEN we were going, and I made the mistake of saying…. “We might do something really cool later, but I don’t want to tell you what it is in case we can’t do it, because I don’t want you to be upset.” … after he asked me for the twentieth time, what we were doing, where we were going, when we were going…..
We are in the grocery store. It is a small little store the size of my apartment, which is not big. We had already been to the larger grocery store to pick up coffee and Doritos. (Kidlet requires a steady supply of Cool Ranch Doritos or the entire world will crumble and the apocalypse will occur.) The little grocery store is where we go for staples because its cheaper. We changed our mind about Wendy’s at the big grocery store when we found a package of three lovely New York Strips for less than it would have cost to have gotten three of those lovely and intriguing pretzel bun sandwiches. Gee – Lovely steaks or Fast food? No brainer. It was a treat. We haven’t had steak in a long time.
But as I am standing in the grocery store I hate going to – Kidlet remembers that I said we might do something cool. As I am repeating in hushed tones under my breath… “Chicken in freezer, corned beef/cabbage, soup (ha!)….” in an attempt to figure out how many days I can feed the three of us…. he asks about the something cool and I say we are doing it and he remembers some detail about how it was a cool thing that was NOT grocery shopping because I said AFTER we go grocery shopping.
At this point he starts to frazzle. He gets so upset that he bends over and puts his head in his hands and leans against the hip high freezer thingy, and says that he is giving up and he can’t handle being around us right now.
This is very eloquent for him. It has been happening quite a bit lately.
A few things happen at once. I am proud of him for communicating, and I am alarmed at what is going on and what might happen. My heart breaks a little that he is *this* upset. I spend the next fifteen minutes trying to talk softly to him and calmly assure him that the cool thing wasn’t so cool and its not a big deal and that we are having Steak and potatoes for dinner which is one of his favorite things ever.
Nothing works. He is getting more upset. I can visually see him shutting down. All of his warning signals are all there. I have my arm around him as we stand in the same spot, I am rubbing his back and whispering to him calmly – like a wounded animal ready to bolt.
And people are staring- and they are staring like they aren’t sure if I’ve done something awful or not.
In the past, when he was littler, and reality was different, I would see them looking at me like this and worry for days that someone was going to call child protection on me for being inept.
He doesn’t want to go to the car, but I do get him shuffling down the last aisle and out to the car. He spends the ride home yelling at us while we try to explain to him that we are sorry, and explaining at how he is all worked up over something he didn’t even know about. Eventually, he calms down once we are home, he readjusts and is back to himself.
Yesterday – the tantrum happens in the middle of my front yard. At 7 in the morning.
He actually starts yelling at me and stomping his foot as the bus is waiting and I am standing in the window trying to get him to go on the bus. The argument is about wearing his winter coat. It is 34F. He doesn’t want to wear his coat, he has it hanging off his arm. Before the bus came lumbering down the street, I told him to put it on. I was not patient. I was furiously whispering, because I was mad that he was being sneaky an trying to ease the coat off when he got out the front door. He is standing in the middle of the yard screaming at me, stomping his foot as the bus waits behind him and I have gone from wanting his coat on, to shooing him at the bus. He goes, stomping up each step loudly enough so that I can hear it from thirty feet away.
Today was almost as bad, but it was bad before he went out there. Over his wallet that he has apparently lost somewhere in the apartment.
But I am grateful. Because this is better than it was. And for now I breathe.
This is a long post, so I will continue onward in the next.