Under the Surface

Kiddos on the spectrum process emotion differently than us neurotypicals.

“Duh,” you might say. And I would agree, but sometimes I forget how deeply this runs through my own kiddo.

Last week, I got notification from Fantastic Babysitter that they were most likely going to have to put their kitty down.  She was getting old and not feeling well, and not getting any better, and she was worried about The Boy.  I was too, because sometimes the death of an animal seems to hit him harder than the death of a human being, which is typical for those on the spectrum (“kitty” was his first word, after all).

One of our old kitties who is in kitty heaven now

One of our old kitties who is in kitty heaven now

I approached the subject with him and let him know that the kitty in question would probably be going to kitty heaven soon.  He asked why, and I explained that as animals and humans get older, their bodies fail them, and they start to get sick.  Sometimes, when animals get so sick, we put them to sleep so they can go play and run and chase mice with their friends in kitty heaven.  We talked about how it would be cool for Fantastic Babysitter’s kitty to go play with our old kitties in heaven, and that she would be happy there.  He had some questions, and I answered them to the best of my ability.  He seemed a bit bothered, but also seemed to handle it with grace.

I reassured Fantastic Babysitter that The Boy was ok, and we were sad for her. It’s never easy to let a pet go, but we had been through it a couple of times, so it shouldn’t be too Earth-shattering for The Boy.

And everything seemed ok.

But then, some other things went wrong in The Boy’s world last week, and the death of the kitty seemed to come back up to the surface and tip the scales, sending him off the edge.  You see, taken by itself, the absence of his friend-who-is-a-girl on Friday would have been upsetting, but not on-the-verge-of-a-meltdown all weekend.  But add the death of the kitty (which obviously affected him more than I could tell on the surface), and it gets to be too much to process.

Everyone is leaving him, he thought.

And for a kid that actually has been left behind by a parent, any dumba** could see the potential for meltdown.

I’m glad I have enough perspective to be able to understand in hindsight what contributes to his frame of mind. Maybe someday I’ll be able to predict a bit better to help him head off some of these catastrophic feelings.

Always a process, always learning.

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What’re You Up To?

I am spending yet another day at home, when we every clearly could be at work today.  Third day home means another day of no pay, and three times as much work waiting for me when I get back.  I’m not a happy camper.  Our high will be in the 40s today, and the 50s tomorrow, so we continue to wait, I guess.  And I will be working all weekend to make up for it, but jeesh…

So today, I am:

  • feeling: irritated by the weather, by being cooped up again, by having so much work that could be done that is now waiting for me, ready to pounce the minute I get back (ugh!)
  • missing: my mom and dad, friends from work (The Boy is at Grammy’s today, so I may head over there later…)
  • reading: Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende and The Hobbit by Tolkien (I don’t usually read more than one at a time, but I’m not doing as much reading as I used to, so…)
  • worrying about: tubas, taxes, and tires and other things which need to be paid for
  • eating: not much – never do when I’m alone
  • looking forward to: temps in the 60s this weekend, even if it’s rainy, dinner with my parents tomorrow night (Stouffer’s lasagna – yum!)
  • playing: hidden object games
  • thankful for: not being in the mess in Atlanta, and not losing power in this storm

What are you all up to today?

The Cat’s New Tail

The Boy has a cold, and you know what happens when you mix autism and illness… let’s just say hilarity does not ensue.  Cranky-pants, constant-verge-of-meltdown ensues, and it ain’t pretty.  And from what I can tell, school was no different from home today.  So when we arrived home today, he put on his “cat costume” (which isn’t really a cat costume, but more of an everything-plaid ensemble, because according to The Boy, that makes him look like a calico…  okaayyyy…) and went outside, because it was rather warm today (and sunny!).  The last detail of the cat costume is the scarf (tail) he and The Man bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago, but today, the scarf had other ideas about being dragged on the concrete.  It turned into a frayed mess, and The Boy began to wail because it was “broken”.

We went back and forth, me trying to calm him and offer solutions, and The Boy calling me names and dwelling on the negative.

I have found over the past few months, that when The Boy is at his most frustrating and meanest point, he will often welcome a hug, and crawl into my arms (well most of him), and cry like a baby.  That’s what this behavior all boils down to, folks.  It’s an expression of his feelings.  He doesn’t really mean that he would like a new and better mom, he just means, “I’m sad and mad and frustrated, and I want to cry”!

While he was in my arms, I started suggesting alternatives to the scarf.  Rather than try another fabric scarf (which is what he wanted to do), we needed something different, something tougher that would withstand the concrete, because fabric and concrete just don’t get along.  He attempted to get sidetracked with, “Why do concrete and fabric not get along?”, but I motored right past, thinking aloud about something vinyl or plastic, like an outdoor tablecloth…  I suggested we go to the fabric store to see what they had.  I then had to explain that fabric stores had all kinds of materials and not just fabric (because I think I really confused him after just telling him that fabric and concrete didn’t get along!).  As soon as he understood what I was getting at, he wanted to go immediately, all full of hope and smiles.

We were able to find a plaid outdoor tablecloth material for $3 a yard, and came home triumphant.  I offered to sew it up for him, so that the soft side wouldn’t be exposed, and he enthusiastically agreed.  I broke out my new IKEA sewing machine for the first time, reached way back into my memory banks to remember how to set it up, and was able to do what I had promised.

And now our “cat” has a new tail!

This is a day in the life, and this kind of turnaround is what I live for.

The things I do for my kid

All Wrong

I just realized I did this all wrong.  I mentioned before about the day I have to drive away being the worst. And I let myself be a baby and cry all I want.  That day is today.  And I should’ve pampered myself a little.  I should have reserved a little nicer room, something to take the sting out of this awful, awful feeling and the tears that pop up at every little thing.

But tomorrow will be better.  I will get The Boy back after two weeks (TWO WEEKS!), and I will get to see his smiling face and hear his laugh again.

And as The Man has reminded me several times today (he always calls me a few times on this day, I think to try to cheer me up), there are only about five months until we don’t have to do this anymore.  Which is really something good, because this gets so much harder every single time.

So tonight I will watch sappy Lifetime and Oxygen movies, do my nails, and hang out in my bathrobe in my hotel room.  Tomorrow, I pick up my little partner and chip away at those last five months.

Hindsight