I Love My Kid, But I Need Some Patience, Lord
David has been in full on warp-speed super-dooper autism mode lately. Not that he's ever not a kid with autism, mind you, but some days he can almost pass for a neurotypical kid. In fact, unless you watched him or talked to him for a good length of time, usually you wouldn't pick up on his autism right away.
Unless, of course, you're an autism parent. You'd see it a mile away, then. We always do.
But lately - oh, lately. His behaviors have been in fine form, and I wish I knew what made him cycle into high gear. I've kept notes and journals, hoping to find a common thread, but nothing's added up so far.
So I spent my weekend with him walking around repeating himself endlessly, asking me questions about even the most mundane things (Are you making dinner? Are you making pizza? Do I like pizza? Do you make me pizza? Are we going to eat the pizza? Is pizza a circle? Do you put cheese on pizza? Are we having it for dinner?) and I find myself in the torturous position of telling the boy that I once thought would never be able to talk or communicate to 'be quiet, please'.
Yeah, I just love discouraging my autistic kid from communicating with me.
It's a double-edged sword, though. He's nearly ten now, and he starts middle school next year. His friends and family have learned to tune out his repetitiveness to a degree, but other kids....not so much. He needs to learn that when someone answers your question, it's bad manners to ask it again. And again. And again.
Luckily, he doesn't do the repetitive thing so much at school, or so they tell me. His therapists have assured me that the reason I get all this stuff is because he's safe with me. I cling to that. In weeks like this, I cling to that.
He's been repeating, singing, chattering nonsense syllables. He's been hand-flapping and throat clearing and chewing his fingers down to bloody nubs. He shouts my name loudly if I travel out of his line of sight for more than a minute.
He's been tantruming when I refuse to do that high-pitched chipmunk voice as I hold up his Alvin doll because I have a sore throat. He's been tantruming when I put him on cat restriction because I caught him holding her down with his foot on her head. He's been tantruming because we ran out of the shampoo in the green bottle and had to use the shampoo in the blue bottle instead. He's been tantruming because I told him Halloween is a Thursday this year and it's not this Thursday and that makes me a liar.
Anna tells me that at his Dad's house last visit, he spent an entire day just endlessly repeating the word "chicken." No one knows why. And of course, David can't tell you why.
And I am tired. Anna is tired. It's so very hard not to snap at him because it grates on your nerves so badly. Anna and I can't carry on a conversation, I can't get anything done, or enjoy thirty seconds of peace in my own home.
He'll cycle out of this and back into only-occasionally-annoying autism mode soon (oh please, let it be soon) and life will get easier. For now, I just want a hammock, and a beach, and the sound of the ocean repeating instead of a kid asking me if Aladdin loves Jasmin and if they fly on a carpet and do they have black hair and does Daddy have black hair and does the cat have grey hair and do we brush our hair.
For now, I wait until the autism brain grows tired, and he lays down in his bed, freshly showered and kissing my face over and over. That kind of repetitive, I enjoy. And when his eyes close and I steal into his room at the end of my evening, I stand over him, watching. I wonder what he dreams about. I wish I could join him there. I bet it's fascinating.
He's so still, and so quiet and so....perfect.
I used to think he was trapped in that malfunctioning brain of his. I've learned in the many years since his diagnosis that there's nothing wrong with his beautiful brain. It's made me see and experience things in ways I would have blown right by before.
I don't always understand him right now. I don't entirely relate to him right now. But he's part of my everything, and I am his safe place.
For now, we just ride the wave, and the love keeps us connected.