Whew. It’s over. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but I do. I am in the group of people who are undeniably glad when holidays come to a close. The chaos…the absolute chaos of it all! Add to that parenting a child with autism during that frenzy, and it really is a relief when it’s over.
My boy doesn’t do well with dramatic change. In all honesty, I don’t think that most people do. I certainly don’t. I think you will concede, however, that it tends to be more pronounced in people like my son. He does exceptionally well with a routine, as is typical for kids like him. Changing it up has serious consequences, even when the change is greatly anticipated and desired…like Christmas.
He’s normally an achingly sweet boy who loves to be around his family more than anyone else in the world. The past week or so, though, he has been…less so. For instance, this morning he was asked if his room was clean which is something we require in our home. Not only did he refuse to answer me, he completely came apart when I followed him and had him look at me and acknowledge me. Whatever was happening inside his head was where he wanted to be. (Incidentally, the room was clean.)
The mouthing off, while considered normal by many, just exploded the past several days! He couldn’t stop running his mouth. Pestering the little sisters, poking the dog, constantly touching me, pacing the house or yard…all of this just skyrocketed. It isn’t his typical behavior.
I was so frustrated with everything (not to mention adding my own issues into the equation) that I literally shrieked at him to close his mouth when he was chewing his food this morning at breakfast. (Which, by the way, I was super excited to make for everyone with my brand new waffle iron! Thank you, Mr. Fantastic.) It just completely stole my joy away, and I was so excited to make those waffles!!
So I marched into my bedroom to pray. “Lord, give me strength. Or maybe patience. But not the stuff that teaches patience. The real patience. Nevermind. How about understanding? Can you give me that?” Then I waited. Nothing. So I got up and walked away expecting the day to be filled with more of the not-usual crap…and probably some of the usual as well.
Then I saw my boy wrestling around and playing with his dog. Those two males, while completely different species, have so much in common. Both of them are on the cusp of puberty and have testosterone coursing through their bodies. They need action. It isn’t just a want or an inclination. Their bodies need the intense movement. Without it, they grow restless and irritable.
Then it came…the understanding. The schedule change has been hard for my young man. He doesn’t understand why he feels the way he does (does any adolescent?!), so he just keeps acting out. I may not be able to give him back his schedule yet, but I can help him regulate himself.
So we are going hiking today. It’s cold, and I hate the cold, but this boy needs adventure. He needs interaction with things bigger than himself, and what’s bigger than nature? I know it will help him regulate his behavior. He will be so much happier and more capable of being himself.
You would think that after being his mother for so long, I would know all of this. The thing is, he is ever changing so his needs are ever changing. I’m constantly playing catch up to his evolving brain. I feel like once I figure something out and get a good handle on it, he changes. The dirty rat.
Fortunately, some things stay the same. I can always count on him to vocally disapprove of what I have concocted in the kitchen. (He does it politely… “Hmm. It only looks a little bit disgusting.”) I can rest assured that he will always tell me when I look less than acceptable before I go out in public. (“Mom, wait! Have you looked in the mirror today? You should.) Of course, this from the boy who would never remember to brush his hair or put on deodorant if it weren’t for his parents! HAHA! I can rely on him for letting me know when I need gum. (“Mom, your breath smells like a mixture of hay and camel poop.”)
More than anything, though, I can count on his love for me, his sisters, and his daddy. This one thing is probably what keeps me from throwing him to the wolves. Even during this mad Christmas season, he has found time and ways to show us all how much he loves us. Between wrestling with his father, sharing his DS with his sisters, helping them clean their room, and vacuuming everything every day for me, there hasn’t been much time to forget that he adores us all and desires our happiness.
So I feel better than I did this morning. Nothing has changed except my mental state and my understanding. I’m thankful that he is a sweet boy, and I have an overwhelming desire to help him now. This entire Christmas season has reminded me again of what it means to “Take It, and Be Thankful.” And honestly? That’s the reason I’m always glad when it is over.
Take It, and Be Thankful