When you have to deal with behaviors, it is so easy to lose patience and just react. We are human after all, and that is how we roll. If we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, have a surge of bad hormones, didn't have coffee, whatever, we tend to act a bit more hastily than we would on any other day.
But when you're dealing with special needs, you have to snap out of the muck and practically become a robot-human and follow the plan, since it may be the only thing that works. Most days, I have a plan to navigate out of it, which works 99% of the time.
And then there is the 1%, and that kicked my ass.
It was hockey Saturday and we had to get the boys dressed and ready to go, #2 has awful trouble with transitions. Going somewhere new is always hard, but even going to places, like hockey, where he goes every week have been increasingly difficult. I'm not sure if the process of getting all the gear on is troublesome, or just the transition from home to the car, but he has been a mess.
#3 was very angry that we woke him up and every time we brought him downstairs to get dressed, he took off, back up the stairs to the comfort of his bed.
So there we were, struggling to get two children dressed for hockey among the whining, the crying and the tantrumming. Plus we had to keep restraining #1, who was complaint and completely dressed, but was overly agitated by the fussing of the other two. This is my life.
Somehow we got them all in the car and the crazy had calmed down. But when we got to the rink, I had to put on their skates, helmets and gloves. That's when round two began. As I put on #3's skates, #2 was yelling and pushing #1 and each time I yelled at him to keep his hands to himself, #1 would antagonize him by acting like a monster that was going to eat him by letting out big roar. The roar would flip out #2 even more and the vicious cycle was unbearable. One of the mentors came over to help me put on #2 & #1's skates and we manged to get everyone on the ice, but I was a mess.
How did my life get to here? I took a seat on the bleachers and began to cry.
I realized this would always be my ground zero. This drama would always be a part of every Saturday. Isn't the definition of insanity to do the same thing and expect a different outcome? And then the tears came faster.
My friend Connie came over to comfort me and said, " It sounds like Autism kicked your ass today." Yes it did. It wiped the floor with me. She let me vent and eventually the conversation shifted to other things and I got pulled back to the light side. By the time they got off the ice, I was better. Still felt like throttling #2, but kept it together.
I told #2 he wasn't allowed to talk the entire car ride home. I think it was the longest he has even been quiet and not sleeping.
During the silence, I came to the conclusion that if he was indeed miserable, then he shouldn't have to go to hockey anymore. His drama was just bringing everyone else down and who needed that?
When we got home I said to him, "you don't have to go to hockey anymore. But you sill need to exercise, so we need to discuss that. Also, you cannot play any electronics during the time that you would normally be at hockey."
After he heard that, he looked relieved and happy, but still needed to clarify, "You mean, I don't have to go to hockey anymore?" He asked. I nodded and he acted like I told him he won the lottery. Was it really that torturous for him? He liked spewing everything in his brain to the mentors. He liked the older kids. What was I not seeing?
The following week, I got the boys up for hockey and took just #1 & #3. The car was quiet on the way there. #2 wasn't yelling at #1 for his radio choices and I didn't have to remind #2 to keep his voice volume in the tolerable zone. I didn't have to yell at #2 for putting his hands on #1 and saying mean things to him. It was just a peaceful morning. By the ride home, I realized that #2's presence made everything crazy. There was no antagonizing behavior, no squabbles, no whining, and no yelling just because he wasn't there. By removing him, peace was restored. It was the sad truth.
I guess there is always a time in a parents life that they have to address the question; "to quit or not to quit?" True, it is important teach them the importance of commitment, but it is equally important to teach them to identify their likes and dislikes and to support their choices. We can't make them feel like our approval is solely based on them making the decisions we want them to make. In this case, I realized he felt like he had no choice and when I gave him one, he made it. Not the one I had hoped for, but it was his choice.
Each week since, I've hoped that he would change his mind and go back, but so far that hasn't happened. Regardless of what he chooses in the end, I am glad the drama is gone from hockey and that is a good thing.
No need for vodka in the OJ. At least on hockey days.