Pity Party


Yoda driving a speeder of Jake’s creation
It’s not fair. It’s not fair that my autistic kid doesn’t understand the difference between squirting the adults with water guns and dumping a bucket of water on his uncle’s lap and therefore phone. But even more than that, it’s not fair that when it sprays back on him he gets totally overwhelmed and overreacts. He ends up enraged, embarrassed, and confused about what went wrong. That’s not fair.

I want to hold him and comfort him and explain to him what went wrong. I want it to make sense and for him to be brave enough to try to squirt his uncle again. I want him to have fun and have it not be complicated by autism. I see his struggles and it is so hard for me. I just love him so much. He’s so amazing. It’s not fair.

I get sad sometimes. I get sad when I see him sad or angry. Boy, was he angry. He told his uncle, “I don’t want you to come to my sixth birthday, or my seventh. You can come to my eighth, but I will frown at you every time I see you!” Adorable, hilarious, and furious. It makes my heart hurt. I hate it when he loses control and feels like the world is wrong.  

It’s not fair.

It’s also not fair that he can’t keep his hands off of me when we are next to each other. He loves me so much. It’s so sweet, and so full of love and heart. It is too much, however, when I am trying to eat, or feed Penny. It’s too much, when he crawls under my skirt in the church foyer. He can hardly handle me touching him, and my hugs are so gentle, but he is all over me.  

It feels like a weight, like a heavy burden that he carries. Being autistic, being overwhelmed, being stressed, being strung out with adrenaline all of the day. It is heavy on my heart. I feel so guilty, for all the times I didn’t know he was autistic and I reacted poorly or too severely to his meltdowns. I wish I had known sooner, that I could have understood more sooner. I know I would have handled things differently. I just did my best, but it really wasn’t good enough.

Okay, pity party over. I will be stronger. I will be kinder. I will be smarter. I will be what he needs. I will figure this out.


The Sounds of Summer

The view from our seats at Safeco Field where we successfully took three children to their first Major League Baseball game
The view from our seats at Safeco Field where we successfully took three children to their first Major League Baseball game.  Go Blue Jays.

Okay. So next summer, I need to remember to set my sights even lower. For some reason, I figured that all of the amazing growth, the incredible year we had in kindergarten, would just continue into and throughout summer. I was not completely mistaken, but I had forgotten just how busy life in summer can be.

And this year there were three of them.

Penny is learning to walk. She still scoots rather than crawls around on the floor, quite effectively and happily. But now she is also pulling up on everything and working on walking while leaning or holding onto whatever is nearby. It won’t be long now.

She is also learning how to talk. This is amazing, and she mimics sounds that she hears as well as trying to make her own sounds for things. The boys were never this vocal as babies. She said “Mum,” for hours the other day, and is very close to da-da. It’s so fun, so special.

And oh my goodness. It’s so loud.

Apparently she has learned that talking is loud.

We are so loud.

Jake is loud. He has no volume control despite years of us trying to coach him to be quieter, softer, use his indoor voice, turn down the volume, etc. He just can’t help it. Now we know that he has auditory sensory processing issues, he hears everything at the same volume, and he can’t hear the difference in his own voice. So he’s loud. Okay. He’s loud and autistic.

Aiden is loud. Aiden was not always loud. And certainly, in a crowd he’s often almost silent. But here at home, that kid is loud. He wakes up loud. He plays loud. When he’s happy or excited, he shrieks and screams.

I get it. Kids can be noisy. And kids can be loud. I love happy sounds.

We are loud happy.

We are also loud angry.

And loud tired. And loud hungry. Loud when we are trying to have a conversation and our kids are loud. Oh. My poor husband. He isn’t loud by nature. He’s quiet. If anything, he hears too clearly, too sensitively. Sometimes even he is loud.

And so, Penny is getting loud. She really just thinks that is how it is done. And I guess, in our family, it is.

So here we are, all together, the five of us, for the whole summer.  The noise is a little insane sometimes. Okay, so the noise is a little insane almost all the time. I wasn’t prepared.  How do you prepare for that?  Try to take more two minute quiet breaks?  Try to store up peaceful thoughts to prevent joining in with the screaming?  I am naturally loud, I know, and I want to help bring down this noise. It’s difficult.

I whisper, hoping they come down to my level. I yell, hoping to show them how loud they are, or how loud I too can be. I use body language. Well, that’s just useless.  

Maybe I need more signs that I can hold up. Something like a red light, green light, only I would only ever use the red light. I’d be waving my red light around, hoping the kids would pay attention and remember that it means they need to quiet down. Right.

I am so looking forward to the start of school. I need the quiet. Summer is nuts!  I know my dear husband can’t wait to get back to his classroom full of teenagers, because there they are quieter than here!  So funny.  

I am trying to live in this moment.  Love this noise and these kids and this insanity without wishing it were calmer, quieter, or September. I’m doing alright at it, most days. But I have found that my calm and my presence in the moment is short lived. I need to work on it so I can stay here and enjoy it, even when it drags on and on and on.

Halfway Through Summer

It is half way through the summer.  I feel like I have hit a patch of burn out.   I don’t have the enthusiasm I did at the beginning of the summer and September and school still seem a long way off.  I have found this summer that I have not had time to read, energy to research, or rest.  I have been on the job, as it is, 24/7, with break time being from about 8:00pm until I fall over and sleep sometime between ten and eleven.  That feels like a really small break time, and although it is break time, it’s also the only time I have to spend with my husband, or to accomplish anything I want to do.

Having three kids home all day means that I can get the laundry in the washer, and sometimes in the dryer, but I can’t fold it.  I can grocery shop or prepare dinner, but I can’t usually do both.  I can clear the counters or the table, but only if the TV is on, and it lasts for about five minutes before the empty spaces are filled again with markers or Lego.

Penny naps well.  But Aiden and Jake play loudly so sometimes they wake her up.  About once a week they hit a real stride where they can play for an hour or more together, without me.  The rest of the days, I have to be a part of their activities, either directly playing with them, or refereeing.  The noise in the house is numbing.

I took both of the boys to a friend’s house today and left them there.  That is how I can write.  It is so quiet here.  It was quiet there too.  Whenever he is somewhere else, or someone else is with us at our house, he is quieter.  I don’t know if he is thinking more, or shy, or less comfortable, or what exactly it is.  But it leaves me feeling like no one else really knows how much he talks or how constant the noise is.  I have been texting conversations with my husband, and it is better than nothing, but feels frustrating to be able to make eye contact and not hear the words each other says.

elaborate Lego creation, perfectly symmetrical.
elaborate Lego creation

I feel like I’ve lost my momentum, lost my groove.  Life is harder again and I am tired again.  I want to be patient, not just give up.  They both look similar, but have such a different heart.  I want to be able to pour my heart into my kids and my family, not just survive the days.

I wish I was writing more, but I have not had the energy, time, or clear enough mind to come up with much insightful.  I do hope that the kids and my husband are getting rest, enjoying the time together and the endlessness of free summer days.  I so hope that they are able to feel like this is a wonderful season.  That would make me believe I was accomplishing something, just by allowing their happiness.