Sometimes we have days we just want to throw the towel in. I know a few moms (and dads) right now that are adjusting with their kids to school schedules and escalations in behaviors. Especially when they first get home or in public and it’s taking all their energy out of them.
That fatigue I know all too well. The feelings like you are at the end of your rope and you just want things calm for them and for you. The dread of is it going to ever not be this way. Not that we want our children to be people they aren’t. Just that we don’t want the judgmental stares of strangers. And sometimes our children to be better “behaved”.
When Em was 2 and 3, we’d go to Christian’s school to pick him up. I walked with her and she was in a stroller. I hated letting her out of that stroller. When she was in the stroller, there was control. I knew I could cut and run and go. I started to let her play on the playground while we waited though. And she often was in her own world trying to play with others, but often unsuccessfully.
She was having fun though. Until it was time to go. Then she would meltdown. She would kick and scream a blood curdling scream that made every parent on the playground watch us. I felt so judged. I felt so small. I’d carry her off the playground the safest way I could without anyone getting hurt and whatever way I could get a grip, often meaning upside down pinned to my chest.
If it wasn’t me carrying her off the playground, it was her dragging us screaming off the playground. Most of the time when that happened, it was when I really needed to connect with another parent, talk to a teacher or was in the middle of a conversation. She made it very clear to EVERYONE on that playground she was DONE. She was going home come hell or high water. And she would start to go or force me to move by any means necessary. There were times I looked like I was a sandcastle trying to hold back the tide.
The point is, I wanted to curl up and die from the looks. Knowing many of the parents better over time, most of them didn’t think twice about it. I know a few did, but those that mattered, understood it was just “an Emelie” thing. We didn’t get a diagnosis until much later but we learned to laugh off those days as the days of the unknowns.
Fast forward to now. Emelie is much better. Obviously I’m not carrying her anywhere let alone upside down. She tries harder and those days she just cannot anymore she tries to negotiate much quieter a solution we are both ok with. Her birthday is a great example.
She had a long day. She was out and about with grandma and grandpa and cousins and one of her aunts and her uncles. There were in a place that had a lot of people around them. She did really well. Dinner was at the restaurant Christian works at, while he was working. By the time she got to the restaurant, she was already struggling. She managed to make it through her dinner. It was a struggle. Then they brought the cake out. It was fine until she blew out the candles. Afterwards, she went out for fresh air.
We talked and decided to walk to get the van and then she could curl up in the van while everyone got their doggie bags and stuff. She tried to manage it. She didn’t scream or yell. She just sat on the dock until someone could help her onto the next point. Once she started to decompress, she was fine. And she tried to explain how she felt in that moment.
When she was in elementary school, this would have never happened. She would have screamed until we left. She’d have just been done and not talked to anyone about why. Even last year, I’m not sure she could have stayed like she did without massive tears and a meltdown.
So remember parents. There is ALWAYS hope. We don’t know where their futures are going and how they will learn to communicate with you. It may be a device. It may be a PECS board. It may be sign language or body language. Or they may just find a way to verbalize to you what is going on. Hope is in the fact that you love your child and they are more than the diagnosis or label they wear.
That and baby steps leads to more baby steps and we may celebrate what others deem silly. I think that any success a child has is tremendous even if to the outside world it seems small and irrelevant. So celebrate your baby steps and successes. Put others that stare out of your mind and know you aren’t alone. And take some time to adjust and regroup. Don’t be too hard on yourself. None of our children come with an instruction manual. Even if our kids did, I think they’d find a way to not fit into that mould.