While my son cried (loudly) today and stated his displeasure over and over again, I had choices to make. He was communicating his chagrin to the head of the school and his teacher. I was in the lobby on the other side of the door. He knew I was there and I knew he was there. He wanted to be where I was. I didn’t want him to keep on tantruming. I just wanted the wall to get painted and then go home. It was one of the “not-so-much” moments in my life.
And all of the school people were witnessing what happens in my home often, as Michael doesn’t tantrum at school very much. And please, know I will claim my stuff, but “giving into him” is not really something I do too often. Or maybe I do, but that’s not this post (notice how I dodged that one? I’m very sneaky I think . . . although I’m writing this, so maybe I’m not sneaky at all . . . now I’m just rambling and that’s not doing anybody any favors).
So I was in a position to do several things:
- I could go in and “rescue” him from what it was that made him upset (me being late) and change all of my plans (Stop the painting, take him home, and reschedule in hopes that the sun, moon, and Earth would align perfectly so I could get the wall finished this month. He actually had a breakdown that postponed it the first time.).
- I could ignore it (this is what I actually did) and let the other wonderful people in the building handle it.
- I could go in there and scream at him to “stop!” Give him some extreme consequences and use fear as my teaching tool.
- I could walk out, go get coffee, not answer my phone, and pretend like I was on a cruise to Hawaii. Let them take my kids home with them (hey, I’m sure it’s been done before).
- etc., etc., etc. . . .
I chose answer #2. It wasn’t my “instinct” for sure. My instinct is to protect him and nurture him and take him to safety. There’s a section in All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann (one of my MOST favorite books EVER) where she writes, “Sometimes his parents feel sad, wondering why they can’t understand their own child, and they can become very protective.” Well, if that doesn’t bring tears to my eyes each and every time I read it, then call me fuddle-pop. Because I know from reading that, that I am not alone and that other parents have protected their children and that now their children cry for two main reasons: because they get what they want and because they simply can’t handle what’s happening. It’s too much.
Listen to me read it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmGS3HZ6WJw
Discerning between the two cries is the challenging part. Clearly, he was crying and pleading and threatening so he could be close to me and he wasn’t getting that. The reason I chose #2 was because we talked ahead of time about me painting while he was in aftercare. That is what was expected. I would be in the lobby, and he would be with the other kids.
I believe it all would have been fine had the emergency vehicles cleared the roads sooner and opened the traffic for me to get through. But that didn’t happen, so I was late. The brain-train Michael was on got derailed and then stick-a-fork-in-him because he was done. I’m shaking my head as I write that. It IS a crazy life with these different brainers. If I’m a few minutes late, my whole life shifts on a dime, which is what happened this fine afternoon.
There are heroes in my life. The reason I could choose #2 is because Michael’s teacher, the head of the school, the other teacher, and the assistant are all on Michael’s team. Now, letting him cry like that might not look like the loving thing to do, but Michael is in fifth grade. They are committed to helping Michael prepare his beautiful spirit for older grades. Deep breath. I know, it’s WAY hard to let go. But let go I am going to do, and I’m going to do it with love and grace and late night blog posts. Cuz that and Pocket Frogs are my therapy. 🙂 And both his teacher and head of school had discussions with me before this year started about allowing them to help him through these times. Well, these “times” are here and they’re very much more difficult for me than for Michael. He seems totally fine now and I’m still dragging myself from the squished blob I was on the floor. I may have even been stepped on a few times while I was down. Who knows? I don’t. I’m getting up though.
Thanks to the heroes for taking care of our children. They’re out there. Not everyone champions these different-brained humans, but those that do make life so much more beautiful. My heroes on this day stayed late, which they didn’t have to do. They did their work later, which they didn’t have to do. They made a choice to help my son for the hour he struggled by calming him, consoling him, reasoning with him, offering him alternatives, and being gentle, kind, and loving. I don’t think they did handstands, but I am guessing that if that was in his best interest, they would have done.
I got them a bag of kettle corn from Trader Joe’s. I’ll write them a bouquet-of-gratitude e-mail tonight or tomorrow. I’m whipped now. Another day has happened and I feel like I lived eight years in the six hours of this day (from 3:30–9:30p.m.).