Yesterday, YouTube wasn’t working. Needless to say, my son, Callie was not happy. He unplugged his laptop and threw it behind his toy bin in his closet. He closed the closet doors, that normally stay open, and laid on his bed – filled, I’m sure, with disbelief and confusion of how such technology…his technology could ever have a bad day. Distressed too that there’s not an instant reboot of some kind, he says, “Mom, YouTube is not working!” I removed the laptop from what I could only assume was the room of time-out (in his mind) and took it into the kitchen to see if I could fix it somehow. My act of aid quickly triggers tears, uncontrollable scripting and then a meltdown. His focus shifted from repair to routine. Immediately, the norm took precedence. The computer is in the kitchen, away from its everyday placement; so now the remedy for fixing the computer does not seem as urgent as it is to put back what was relocated. Interesting enough but not shocking, where the computer is usually on a table in his room, he has no problem transporting it out of sight at the first signs of problems. I learned early that it’s ok for him to change the protocol, but for anyone else to do so is completely out of the question, even at the expense of things remaining in its present state. How frustrating it is for me to try to convey that coming to the rescue does not mean permanent seize of property and that it’s really love hurrying in to help him.
Situations like this are never effortless, even though the years of autism have trained me well. Communication is key. I do know that, but trying to express how you can actually be of assistance can be challenging, especially if the solution your child sees does not include you in it. His eyes of both fear and disappointment coupled with miscommunication pulls on your heartstring. Yet, the loud crying makes you take a step back and wait until there’s a comfort level to offer solace. Occasionally, stepping back just means leaving it alone and seeing what happens next. I never have the resolve right away. In this case, I probably should have left the computer where it normally resides. Parents make mistakes and here was mine. But sometimes, it’s not the move that is so bothersome. It’s just the touch of something that is his. However, my oldest and I make our way to rectify the problem when Callie is preoccupied with his younger brothers upstairs. The computer is back in its stationary place and we work quickly to restore peace and happiness again. After a few tries, comprised with leaving when we hear heavy running coming down the stairs, we got his YouTube refreshed. This stressed but mild incident is one of many. Often the day feels like it won’t ever end and then tomorrow comes and we’re thinking “Thank God that’s over!” – only to be faced with something worse than before. As parents, one would think we would have all the answers, particularly because it’s our child we’re trying to console, but not true. There are moments that we are at a loss on how to put the puzzle together, not only in a timely manner, but in a way that makes sense to our child. There are so many variables in “getting it right.” The technique used prior may not be conducive for the time at hand. You may have to keep going back to the drawing board until the sea is calm. That takes patience. That takes understanding. Of course, exhaustion and a headache may accompany a final solution, but it’s all worth it, having a contented child breathing in the returned atmosphere he’s so familiar with.
Today is a new day. I go in looking for better, but whether that transpires or not, experience has taught me a lot. This doesn’t mean I know everything. This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m ready every time. This merely means I’m prepared for the possibility and no matter what the day may bring, I embrace my son with whatever he needs to walk through it.
Thanks for listening,