Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Red Letter Day

Sometimes, I forgot just how shitty autism can be.   Days like today remind me.

I didn't sleep well last night (that has nothing to do with autism... just some background).  I was up every hour to pee (thanks, Lucas!) and then woke up at 3:40 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep.  Eventually, around 5:30, I crashed and by 6:30, I think I was out and didn't wake up until 8.  Which would have been fine, except that I was due to start a Bible Study today, which included a drop off program for the kids- which meant leaving at 8:30 so that we could drop Peter at work and get on our way to the church (not ours), which is half an hour from him.
I was going to ditch but Maya was actually really excited about the kids program.  They have a nursery, a program from 1yo, 2yo, then PreK/K, 1st/2nd homeschooled, and 3-6 homeschooled.  For whatever reason, she was psyched, so we rushed around and got the kids dressed and ready, and left 10 minutes behind schedule.  Not too shabby, since I had to shower still.  But, it meant no one had breakfast.  So, once we left Peter, I stopped off and got the kids pancakes and juice, and they ate in the car on the way.  It all seemed to be good. I reiterated the morning schedule, Bobby repeated me, all was well.
We got to the church (which also houses a large play area that the kids enjoy) and that is when it all went downhill.  Bobby cried from the moment we got out of the car.  We ended up making it to the sidewalk, where he had a complete meltdown that included hitting me in the stomach before he ran away- right into Michael and Maya who were holding hands.  Michael was trampled and pushed down on the sidewalk, which scraped his knee.  By this point, Bobby was a disaster; part of it was the meltdown and I think part of it was realizing he hurt Michael.  He is so tenderhearted that, when he melts down and cannot control himself, he gets more upset as he starts to come out of it and realize that he either had the meltdown in the first place or that he has hurt someone.  He was still in the middle of it but I could also see that he was trying to fight it, too, and that is nearly as heartbreaking.  I grabbed him,  to stop him from running in the street, to drag him back to where Michael is on the ground sobbing.  I'm trying to comfort Michael while Bobby is still flinging himself and, in doing so, is pushing me off the sidewalk and into the street.  Then, to complete the meltdown, Bobby starts peeing on himself.  (This seems to be how most meltdowns end; it's almost as though he can no longer hold whatever is driving him inside, and he just physically expels himself.  While it's awful, it's also usually a sign that the worst is over.)
Maya helped me get Michael back to the car, so that I could help Bobby, who is now crying uncontrollably and apologizing, changed. Once I got him cleaned up at the trunk, I just held him against my chest while he cried.  He wanted to go to the play land and I said that we were going home.  He begged to go to his class with Maya, then to the play area (which was our initial plan), and Maya echoed that.  At this point, all I wanted to do was throw in the towel, but we were already there and Bobby seemed to be calm, so I said we would try. 
We go in and after what felt like forever (because at this point, we are quite late), I find the class listed as "Tuesday Homeschool".  The teacher says the class is for 8y and older and that we are in a different room.  So, we go to the other class, which turns out to be the PreK/K class.  The teacher explains that they canceled the 1/2 class because they didn't have enough adults volunteer.  She was very nice and says she is fine with the kids being in class, since they have ages 4-5 and a few kids about to turn 6 who are in K.  So, I take Michael to his class, and he's fine.  He went right with the teacher and started playing with the other two year olds.  I walked Bobby and Maya back; they went inside, but both refused to participate.  Bobby stood by the door and Maya  clung to his arm.  She is typically shy, but this was a different level- especially since she really wanted to go.  I think she was just emotionally done from the morning too.  I stayed to try and encourage them to play with the other kids but then Maya attached herself to me and wouldn't let go, while Bobby just kept saying "No class.  Go home."  So, I gave up after a few minutes, thanked the teacher (who really was lovely and offered for us to try again next week), and went and got Michael.  His class was about to go to the gym to play with balls, and the teacher said he was doing well for the short time he was there. 
By this point, I was the one of the verge of tears.  Just so exhausted from fighting and struggling to get to this stupid class that I was looking forward to, tired from a lack of sleep, contracting from the stress of dealing with it all and the physical impact from Bobby, and just wanting to sit down.  So, we went to the play area, which was fairly empty and they played for about 30 minutes. 
When we have so many good days, it makes the moments like today seem so far removed.  And then, they come back and smack you in the face, and you remember what it is like to have an atypical child.  He does so well for days and even weeks, and then something like this blows everything up.  It doesn't matter on these days how much you tell yourself "It's going to get better" because, in the moment, all you want is the "better".  I look at Bobby and I see how far he has come, even on the bad days, but in the throws of it all, I just want to cry and curl up under a rock. 
I wasn't the shining example of special needs motherhood, either.  As he was falling apart, I was yelling to be heard and ended up having to hold his face to get him to look at me, which I hate.  It feels so mean to me, even though it is the only way, when he's flailing, that I'm able to get him to pause and look into my eyes.  Holding him, as he's crying and telling me he's sorry, I cant tell him "It's okay" enough, especially when all I want to do is take whatever it is that he's feeling away.  Knowing, as his mother, that I cant really do much except hold him until it passes... it breaks my heart. 
Everyone seems much better now.  They are decompressing with some educational games on their tablet (except for Michael, who is playing with a book).  I'm about to make lunch and am hopeful that the rest of the day will get better.  Our big plan is to make a cake for the Virgin Mary's birthday. :)  The kids are pretty excited about that, and Maya said they should make birthday cards.  So, hopefully once I feel settled and lunch is over, we can get that started. 
Here's to hoping there is a better day post-lunch!

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