It is April 2nd (or it was when I started writing this) and the annual Autism Awareness Day promotions fly across my social media feeds. They include some very positive and heart-warming testimonials by parents of autistic children. These are beautiful and touching reminders that it is important to say nice things in addition to the complaints that crop up in the day-to-day struggles of raising a child–any child, really–regardless of any spectrum they are on.
But it is also hard to mouth these sentiments when you are worn down to a nub of exhaustion and your nerves jangle from your beautiful child’s explosive and self-injurious behavior. Some days, I struggle to find the funny. I might need to bite the head off of several chocolate Easter Bunnies first. Please stand by.
I could go on at length about the difficulties of raising a teenager on the spectrum. (I have before.) But part of my ongoing therapy says to focus on the positive moments–even if I have to become creative in how I define that positivity.
I now have an ABA assistant coming into my home three to four times a week to help work with my son. This is great. She’s young, calm, and definitely improving on my somewhat lax home spit-and-polish standards by teaching my child to clean like we are due for a Command Inspection.
She also takes him for walks. Great!
But this also means I have to go along. *NooOOOooooo!*
Oh sure, I benefit from getting exercise–I too have been trapped in the house for nearly a year with access to Amazon delivery and unlimited chocolate prime–but, I am out-of-shape, cranky, with bad feet and an aversion to ‘having’ to do anything.
It doesn’t help that my Better Angel is anemic and easily cowed by the slothful Demon-on-My-Shoulder who comments frequently, “Just think how much Netflix is costing us” and we should “really get cracking on watching everything as soon as possible so we can cancel it.” Which is a bit like trying to count all the stars before the universe recreates itself in a tumultuous rerun of the big bang!
And I just realized “TUMULTUOUS” has FOUR ‘U’s in it? How have I managed not to see that in all my years??
My son did all of his Egg Decorating with the help of his aide. I, like the fool I am, left the eggs out unsupervised long enough for my child to wake up and peel and dump the remains into the trash before I woke up. And before you say, “Awww, he was trying to be helpful.” That included the boiled eggs. He has done this before, so really, it’s on me.
My son has his good days. Easter Sunday was one of them. We visited with Grandma for the holiday and he tolerated being there for over three hours. That’s a record which is unlikely to be beaten or repeated, but it happened. So put that in your ‘Happy Chapter Book.’ (I’m tempted to add, “And smoke it.” But suspect I’m just confusing my metaphors again.)
Many of my days are challenging. But, I need to remind myself, if they are hard for me, they are probably ten times as hard for my son who struggles to function under the exact same circumstances without the advantages of being an adult who can make different, more helpful choices.
Which means, sigh, I’d better go get my tennis shoes on and take him for a walk before it starts raining again. I need to walk off a few dozen bunnies’ worth of chocolate somehow.
YOU READ THIS FAR BONUS:
I deciding completing the many thankless tasks of parenting might be easier if we won some kind of award or certificate of parental achievement for our efforts. You know, something like “Didn’t Blow Up at Child Today” badges. Or “Didn’t Blow Up Child Today” which would be both better and worse somehow.
I Googled the internet and, while not specifically about parenting, I found where you can order some and they made me laugh:
Adult Merit Badges – Acknowledging that adulting is hard and, dammit, where’s my sash of accomplishments already?!
And this–which makes me question modern news reporting even as I laughed reading about the: Chocolate Easter Bunny Study. Though, it was broadcast on The Today Show, so perhaps my expectations are a tad unrealistic.