(Flashback to Toddler days)
When you are parenting a toddler with special needs simple little things somehow have the ability to turn into ridiculous struggles. For example, the diaper change. Toddler could have a full diaper that is leaking and sagging and cold and visibly uncomfortable but HEAVEN FORBID I try to slow him down to change that nasty thing. I suddenly become WORSTMOMEVERRRR. I have been known to pin him down with my feet to keep him still (taking great care of course to ensure he remains uninjured). Gotta get the job done somehow, right? The whole scene gets even uglier when there is poop involved, but leaving him in a soiled diaper is not an option. I have to remove any possibility that he might be inspired to engage in creative finger painting, if you get my meaning.
Toddler was especially angry during a recent diaper change and kicked and screamed and squirmed and flailed the entire time. You would have thought from his behavior that I had just told him that he could NEVEREVERGOOUTISDETOPLAYAGAIN. EVER. That’s how upset he was. I got creative in my desperation, and had to drape the entire length of my legs across his body to help keep Hurricane Toddler contained. My thighs pinned his feet and my feet held down his arms. It was an epic battle, one for the history books, but I fought valiantly. Significant progress had been made for Team Mom when Toddler suddenly was able to wrench his arms free. His wrath poured out in all its glory as he furiously began to push the diaper off his body. I continued to fight against him, and finally yelled in exasperation, “I…WILL…WIN!!!”
My preschool-age child had been nearby the whole time, calmly watching the whole chaotic episode. When the diapering was finally complete Toddler was rolling around on the floor, tears streaming down his face, still howling his protests, still without pants. And I sat in silence, exhausted.
Gazing at a screaming Toddler who was by now foaming at the mouth, Preschooler soberly asked me, ”Did you win?”
“What do YOU think?” I responded wearily.
After thinking for a moment, his response was simple, “I want juice!”
(This is a revised version of a post that appeared on my first blog many years ago. There are times as an Autism parent that we have to laugh, because if we don’t laugh we just might cry. This was one of those times. )
My toddler made a big scene in public yesterday. I LOVE it when he does that (insert sarcasm font). This time it was in front of his older brother’s ENTIRE preschool assembly. This meant that a large group of people trained in early childhood education got to witness my epic failure as a Mom. Totally not a boring morning.
Toddler has a hard time when we drop Preschooler off at school. Due to his developmental delays and sensory issues he has trouble with the chaos and quick transition of running in and out of the church building. He also finds it incredibly frustrating when he is not allowed to stay and play with the older children and all the wonderful toys. Many a day it has triggered a meltdown, and I have several choices as to how to handle it. Sometimes I simply sit in the lobby and hold him tight, trying to remain calm while we let his emotion run its course. Other days I have the energy to get him back to the car, but it is a struggle. He kicks, screams, and drags his feet the whole way, and then I have to physically force him into his car seat. When I don’t have time to wait it out I usually use the stroller because letting him walk or carrying him is too risky. You see, if carry him I run the risk of droppage (yes, I know, not a real word) when he starts kicking and squirming. And if there is droppage not only is there the possibility of injury, there could also be escapage, and if there is escapage then there would be runnage. And if there is runnage he could get hurt or disappear, and we can’t have that. Have you even seen a small child with Autism try to get away? They are FAST! I worry about it all the time. Unfortunately there are some inherent risks to using the stroller, because Toddler has grown and can now reach his feet down to the floor. Trying to push a resistant passenger in one direction while he is trying to scoot in another is no easy task. He is a tough kid, and has been known to knock the stroller over during one of his escape attempts. It’s just what he does.
And so ends yet another April Autism Awareness month. Did it really make a difference? Is anyone more aware? Yesterday I received an encouraging message from an old friend from my college days, and I share it with her permission:
I know we haven’t talked in a very long time, but I felt strangely connected to you yesterday. I’ve read some of the things you have posted (or maybe blogged) about your son. Yesterday, we were at the mall, and this boy who appeared to be about 8 or 9 had a major meltdown. His mother was so distraught, and everyone was just looking at her and she just kept crying. Continue reading
Each day presents us with opportunities to have an impact on the lives of other people, for good or bad. We have a choice as to how we will respond when life becomes complicated. I encourage you to choose compassion. Here is a beautiful email I received many years ago from a friend, and reprint with her permission.
I was sitting on a plane down to Phoenix AZ in the window seat. A 91 year old woman was next to me, and next to her was a 40 something professional looking woman named Diane. We all chatted pleasantly about the previous Mother’s Day activities, and the older woman was telling us about her children. The plane took off and we all shut our eyes for three seconds. Suddenly, a child became upset. She was SCREAMING. She was in the seat in front of me. We all looked at one another and shrugged. This was going to be our flight. So, we took out our books, and magazines, and immediately felt sorry for the child. Her ears must have been hurting. She looked like she was about three when I peeked at her when we sat down.
The screaming continued.