“Thank You for Not Talking.”

 

It’s the first week of school. There are two teachers, one of which is new. Michael comes home yesterday in a complete emotional and mental tangle. Sigh.

I say, “You seem tangled.”

“Stop talking to me!” he snappily responds.

At this point there is no talking to him; he’s too upset and can’t get a grip. I’ll wait. Very quietly (shhh).

I waited.

He finally blurts out, hours later, something to the effect of, “Mom, when we’re talking and making noise, the new teacher says ‘thank you for not talking!’ when very clearly we ARE talking.” The tears start for him. He’s held this painful disruption to his being all day long.

At this point I’m sad for many reasons:

  1. I’m sad that words are so powerful for him that they can wreck his entire day.
  2. I’m sad that these verbal “assaults,” if you will, cause him great pain for extended periods of time because he just CAN-NOT-COM-PUTE (in your best robot voice). I’m sad because I don’t know if he ever will compute.
  3. I’m sad that I will have to address this in some way. I don’t know her at all, so what’s the best mode? Will she be offended? Do I ask the head of school to address it? I’m sad there are so many options to the whole thing. I know it has to be addressed, though, or my life will get unbearable and that is not OK. There’s another child on the spectrum that Michael said was also upset by her choice of words.

I will wait until tomorrow and then I will make a choice. I will ask him questions tonight and have him swing in his therapy swing for as long as we’re able. This too shall pass, and I’m tired, yo.

 

 

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Sit and Stare Therapy

So I called a friend of mine, who shares this story, on a morning I wanted coffee and didn’t want to spend $32.40 at a coffee shop (I jest). Our friendship was just blossoming, so I wasn’t sure if she was the spontaneous type. I totally invited myself over to her house. This bold woman (me) NEEDED someone who “gets” this journey. Well, it turned out she was the spontaneous type and over to her house I went.

We started with her delicious coffee (she was very concerned about her coffee; it really was delicious) and we were discussing what we do while the kids are in school. I said sometimes I just sit. She said sometimes all she can do is stare. Well, there ya go, that’s when we realized it was almost all we could do to come down from the traumas we experience with our kids. Yes, I am saying traumas, which are different for each family. We sit. We stare. We rejuvenate for the afternoon.

Sit and stare therapy works beautifully, especially when you learn that someone else does it too.

Commitment

So I just got back from a two week vacation in San Francisco with my children. It was me, Michael, and Mason. On the second day, I was already feeling completely overwhelmed by the new space (we stayed with my aunt), the time change, Michael’s breakdown, and the fact that I was on my own for the next two weeks, tending my high-need child and my Zen Buddha child. “On my own” is so much easier in MY house because, as I write this, I realize I’m on my own most everyday anyway. I digress and please note, these two children are sometimes known to switch roles . . . these labels are simply for ease of follow-along communication.

It’s the second day in SF, and I’m already thinking I have made the world’s biggest mistake in flying all the way across the United States to spend two weeks with my high-need son and my other son. Let me now state WHY we’re in California:

  1. My different-brained son has had breakdowns the past two years in late-July/early-August of epic proportions, usually resulting in my programming the emergency psych ward into my phone (better safe than sorry when needing a quick speed dial, right?). I believe this is due to the heat (sensory stuff, don’t ya know) and the “flexible” scheduling of summer.
  2. My ex-husband was generous enough to buy the three tickets last Christmas as my holiday gift because I told him of my “action plan” to stamp out the end-of-summer trauma. Nice—I know.
  3. I love my aunt who lives in California.
  4. It’s cooler there.
  5. It will break up the summer monotony (or something).

So it’s the second day, and I end up saying out loud (without meaning to, of course, my vocal chords and brain sometimes don’t get their timing in sync), “I wonder if I should just call this whole thing off and go home.”

To which the other person who heard those words said, “It wouldn’t be fair to Mason.”

Know this, I truly do not remember who was speaking to me. I think it was my aunt, but what if it were some San Franciscan prophet who had been dead many years and the voice came from the plant? I really wish I had a better recollection of where the response came from, but I don’t, so I’ll move on.

By golly—Mason IS worth a two-week San Francisco vacation, and by golly, that’s what he’s gonna get! My different brainer is going to be just fine and we’ll work this all out. Does my aunt have duct tape? Is that even funny to joke about? Yes, in fact, that is quite funny because I would never actually use duct tape. Yes, we will work this out.

And we did. And it was amazing. And completely enjoyable and fun . . .

Now, I want to say WHY I was able to make the commitment to staying the two weeks and not changing my life because Michael had a breakdown on the second day. I was able to easily commit because I have seen Temple Grandin’s movie. I listened to the commentary at the end and heard the message of how her mother was absolutely committed to Temple living life and not being scared of it. And so from Temple Grandin’s mother (not directly), I commit to giving my son a life of opportunity. I will push him in a safe and loving manner. He’s GOT this! 🙂 And I will help him along with a nudge or a gentle shove when necessary and hugs all along the way.

Epilogue: I just got off a two-day binge of chocolate (yes, from Ghirardelli Square near the Wharf), decaf coffee, six movies, and the fetal position. I’m back and ready for life. Mostly anyway.