The Smallest Cuts…

GlassesWe had another…incident. That’s how it feels, reporting these moments of autism-inspired flare-ups—like filing a police report. You can almost see the mirrored sunglasses glinting as the fictional officer approaches…

IO (imaginary officer): “What seems to be the trouble here?”

ME (me): “I…I…He…and then…”

IO: “Slow down, ma’am. Is anybody hurt?”

ME: (snuffles) “No. Well, just a little.” (rubs hand) “It’s nothing. I’m just crying.”

IO: (looks around) “By the side of the road?”

ME: (wails open-mouthed) “Yessss.”

IO: “Tell me what happened, ma’am.”

ME: (wipes snot) “I tried to take my son to the restaurant.”

IO: (gestures) “This one?”

ME: “Yes.”

IO: “And then what happened.”

ME: “Little Man refused to go in…but I made him. And then…” (tears well up again.)

IO: “Yes?”

ME: “He lost it. He started screaming and biting himself and fighting me. I tried to stop him. A woman helped me get him to a table and I tried to give him his emergency medicine. While I was getting the pills, he sank his teeth in and I dropped them all over the floor. I was wrestling him, trying to get him calm and he finally started to settle down when…” (starts crying again)

IO: “Go on.”

ME: “…the manager asked us to leave.”

IO: “I see.” (clicks pen, scribbles a few notes) “Was anyone else hurt?”

ME: “No…just my hand. I’m gonna be fine. Just need a Bandaid.”

IO: “Are you going to be okay to drive?”

ME: “In a minute. I’m just waiting until I’m sure Little Man is okay.”

IO: “Sounds like a plan. Take all the time you need.”

ME: (sniffs) “Thanks.”

IO: “Don’t mention it, ma’am. Just get home safe…and take care of that bite.”

With the click of a pen, the imaginary officer walks back to the car and calls it in, then fades away and is gone. I’m left, wondering why days like these are happening more and more often? After forty minutes, we move back onto the highway and get stuck in molasses for what seems like hours in the Memorial Day weekend traffic. My hand stings the whole drive home.

I was tempted to post a video to Facebook. You know the kind. Angry, outraged mother, slams establishment that doesn’t understand her child.* Everyone shares and declares the company the Spawn of Satan. But really, I didn’t blame the management of the restaurant, which I won’t name, but will say, what hurt the most today was not the bite. It was being asked to leave.

In the softest voice imaginable, a young man approached our table where I was standing holding my son in a head lock/hug, and said, “I don’t want to have to ask…you know that.”

He didn’t say the words. He didn’t have to. My son was being more than disruptive, he was having a stellar autism meltdown of galactic proportions. I was just trying to get him calm enough to take him out without an incident and, in a whisper, I told him that.

“How can I help?” He said.

Getting my son to the car was a small trial, but after a Vesuvius explosion of vented rage and frustration, we sat in the car. He fumed. I wept.

People came. People went.

As the meds I’d managed to stuff into my child finally worked, I contrasted this afternoon with the successful-ish visit to school earlier in the day. It was field day and all four of the students in my son’s class participated, or not, as they could. No game went as it was intended—though, the rolling tires up an incline only to chase them back down causing everyone to scatter like ten pins came pretty close. It was a physical metaphor of the emotional rollercoaster of autism parenting. What goes up will definitely come down. Probably with teeth marks embedded in it.

It’s all fun and games until someone let’s go of the wheel.

This is the refrain of my life. For every good moment where I manage a picnic lunch in the grass with my son and pictures are captured as proof, there is a corresponding, undocumented, black-hearted despair waiting in the wings to walk to center stage and take a giant, steamy dump.** Guess which memories last the longest?

I have reserved a small, smug nugget in my heart for the moms who struggle with their broad spectrum children. My son has had his moments, but I’ve been able to take him places and do things other families just didn’t. This makes you cocky. You want to think that you have the secret! You know something those other families don’t!

“Just push your child. Find his boundaries and respect them, but keep trying to push them.” I would think to myself.

The boundaries are now pushing back. And, at thirteen, they have the weight of an almost adult behind them. A proto-man who has his own mind and directions and preferences that I am now required to respect. Either that, or be prepared to count my fingers and come up with an odd number.***

I didn’t videotape the experience. I didn’t post it to Facebook. But for a bitter, self-indulgent, desperately tired moment I wanted to. I wanted the pity of nations and the poor-me sympathy of automatic outrage served up on a platter for autism families everywhere. It would feel so good, so soothing to be told I was right. That they were wrong. That people should be more understanding.


But knowing I was the one who pushed my child through the doors when he’d already said, “No!” I knew who to blame.

And yet…

Being told to leave hurts. Every time. It hurts so very deep, in a place you can’t see and don’t want anyone to know is there. And every injury scars deeper than the last. Keloid patches leather your soul, making the effort to try again that much harder. It’s the smallest cuts that hurt the most; and a life with autism is death by a thousand cuts. With lemon juice squirted in for good measure. And a dash of salt.

So, while the rest of the world expands its horizons this weekend, I am weathering the storm at home, licking my wounds and trying not to be pitiful. Much.

Hopefully by next Friday, I’ll be ready to meet my childhood alter ego on the silver screen. I’ll have my silver arm bands ready and my lasso of truth set for introspection and self-revelation. And forgiveness. And I’ll be Wonder Woman once more.

Wonder Woman
What I always wondered, as a child, was how she kept her top up!?

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Internet Rage Fest–It’s the modern-day equivalent of Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame except that it lasts forever and is shared until it reaches obscure corners of Outer Mongolia and beyond.

**Go ahead, try and scrapbook that image!

***Which my son would no doubt find oddly pleasing. He prefers odd numbers to even. He thinks numbers divisible by two are the devil.

30 thoughts on “The Smallest Cuts…

  1. I appreciate your sharing of the struggles. I will never look at a parent dealing with an unruly child the way I did before I started reading your blog. I’m sure that is little consolation for you but do know that you have educated one person and that your willingness to share your pain has softened one heart. I don’t think I realized how truly agonizing autism can be until now.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. It is good, I think, that autism has made me a more conscientious parent than I might otherwise have been. I don’t say a better parent because I find it such a challenge. But definitely I’m much more aware where I’ve failed and when I’ve succeeded. The lows are lower, yes, but the highs are proportionally higher too. The first time my son showed me true, unprompted affection was beyond words, the best feeling I’ve ever known. Now I bribe him with bacon for a facsimile of that sensation. Teenagers! Some things are universal! Thank you for taking time to share in the moments I’m not so happy about. True friends are known by acts like these.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonder Woman keeps her top up because she’s a Super-Hero. It’s one of her Super Powers. And I want to send virtual flowers to the young man who spoke softly into a struggle, who assured you he didn’t want to do what he was doing, and who asked what he could do to help. He didn’t seem like an ally at the time, but he surely was.

    Bless your heart, for helping your Little Man push his boundaries. It’s always hard, especially with teens, to know when NO means ABOSLUTELY NOT and when it means YOU’LL BE WITH ME, RIGHT? OKAY. I can’t even imagine — can’t remotely imagine — how much more difficult it must be with Little Man. You always do the very best you can at any given moment, and you can’t ask more of yourself than that. You have your own boundaries to test, right? HUGS

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. And yes, I could see that the young man really didn’t want to ask me to leave. I’m not even sure if he was the manager, but I assume someone in charge said to ask us to leave and, maybe, he drew the short straw.

      Still, it was a rough go. It’s the not knowing when my son is going to snap that is so hard. He’d been perfectly content until just as we were going to eat. I thought he was just cranky because he was hungry. I was wrong and paid the price. Hopefully I’ll do better next time a moment like this comes up. But thanks for “listening.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We ALL know what’s in the best interest of our children, and you’re no different. They ALL need a push here and a shove there. We’ve all made the wrong choices with their best interests in mind. Hindsight is a bitch.
    Also, still brave. Put the magic lasso in the hand that isn’t wounded.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hindsight seems to be the only kind I have lately. I’d like a little of the foreseeing kind and be able to avoid these moments, but, I probably would just see the disasters coming with no way to really avert them–if science fiction is right. I have to wonder if it might be a good idea to invent Kevlar gloves and arm bands while my son goes through his aggressions? Or, maybe coat my hands in No Bite. Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have no experience with autism but my son has ADHD and I do understand the small cuts… the judgemental looks when he melts down… the worry when he pulls his hair and screams… the eggshells that we walk upon never knowing what will set him off. It was worse when he was younger, I’m pretty sure I have ptsd now. We have been asked to leave and when your child has an invisible disorder people tend to think you’re just a bad parent. I empathize with you because I understand atleast a fraction of what it’s like to raise an autistic child. It takes a superhero and not all mom’s are superheroes. So with that I’ll wave my cape to you my fellow love warrior and see you out there on the battlefield.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s just a shame parenting doesn’t come with hazard pay for when you get injured in the line of duty. Thanks for sharing your war wounds with me.


  5. If I could, I would brew up two hot cups of tea, plate a cookie or five, and pull up a chair next to the part of your heart that got so hurt this day. Offer what comfort there is in companionship and the sharing of good snacks.

    Maybe troubleshoot a few ideas together about that gravity-defying bustier…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this. I stumbled upon your post in WordPress and I have been in this very situation on many occasions. We have times where we go to a restaurant and all is great I think “yeah, we got this”. Then the next day we go to the same restaurant, get the same order (its always fries) and I am not sure what happened but its like an episode of the Benny Hill Show. The thing is as parents we cant avoid “the world” which is made up of fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and malls (if you live in suburbia like me). Nice post and thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As if living in suburbia isn’t punishment enough! But, seriously, we need to fly our Autism flags a little higher on some days–kind of like the warnings the use in harbors to signal bad weather turn back!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading about a day in anyone’s life probably helps a person feel less alone in their circumstances. But there is a particular bond between those of us in the autism community. A sense of shared chaos.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have it on good authority that Wonder Woman’s top was attached with eyelash glue (!!!) and supported from below by carefully hidden stays.

    When I read this I realize again that as much as my Asperger’s has made me miserable, it could have been so much worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it is easy to compare the pain of one condition over the other. I never know how much my child actually understands. Perhaps he is just happy in his own little world and completely oblivious to how life could be. As long as he has crayons, walks, and road trips, he’s a pretty decent kid 90% of the time. And bacon. Must not forget bacon as a cure-all!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bacon, and not just beer, is proof of God’s love for man.

        When I say it could have been so much worse, I meant worse for my existing condition. I didn’t mean to imply I was comparing myself to a different person. I can see paths whereby I’d be in prison or a mental institution or living on the streets. I can see paths where I might have become immersed in crime or drugs or sex work. As it was, I came vanishingly close to suicide. It could have been worse.

        OTOH it could have been so much better. Compassionate parents, a mental health professional who understood Asperger’s, and I might have done very well for myself in the world instead of eking out an existence in jobs that left me hating my life.

        To be happy in your own world and not fret over what might have been describes my definition of a life well-lived.

        Liked by 1 person

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