Friday, March 14, 2014

on the business of behavior (sorrynotsorry).

right now.

spring break.

the day I wrote this we awoke to snow flitting to the ground, melting and disappearing as if it had never been. and now today the warm spring sun is shining full and long upon us.

the littlest is asleep.

I had successfully consumed two cups of coffee, but not before the pot sat for an hour or more.
we were expecting company.

my floor is littered with cheerios, a seemingly endless supply of one of the three possible foods our little Tank will eat. the days of fighting with him over food are anxiously pregnant with strain and worry.

it's hard not to fret.

our world is turned upside down on a daily basis, more often than not. this whole autism business.
it's okay. I am not scared of a diagnosis. it doesn't change how much I love this child, his sparkling chocolate-brown eyes, his curling lashes that frame them exquisitely, his perfectly sculpted cheeks leading to chin and his ribbon of a mouth and the way it crinkles into a grin so deep his eyes have to close with the joy of smiling at you.

the way he eats popcorn (enter food number two) with so much gusto he has to throw his head back because his joy is so immense it cannot be contained.

this boy, and the ocean. he is so quiet & curious, studying the waves lapping at his feet, fearless to enter the water but content to throw rocks in endlessly. he belongs outside. he is so at peace in the fresh air, rain drizzling his hair down to his sweet face as he launches stones into splashes. this is one of those moments. right here.

the other behaviors are what are difficult.
and sometimes it's just not okay.
slamming cupboards.
stalking his baby brother.
restless sleep.
yelling. non-verbal.
refusal to eat most everything.
flailing 40 pounds out of my arms and injuring me.
power struggles.
hitting me.
breaking things.
the yelling. oh Lord, the yelling.

I have to SOAK with a capital S.... SOAK up the good moments while I am thoroughly in them. even when the good is mucky, I have to jump in with both feet and stomp hard and dance long to squeeze every last drop of juicy goodness out of it and get the fun and thick of it up in a great splash - so that when the next difficult moment comes, I have the remnants there to remind me of the joy they contained.

Jacob wants to be wherever Isaac is. he wants his big bro's opinion & thoughts on most every topic under the sun. "Mom. I want a sandwich just like Isaac's. Did he put mustard on his sandwich?" "He did, sweetie, but you told me you don't like mustard, remember?" "Hm. Yah. But I'm going to go ask Isaac if he thinks I should have mustard on my sandwich because I want a sandwich just like Isaac's".

but it is taxing, nonetheless. I can't pretend it's not. and anyone else looking in from the outside who doesn't get it is just that. they don't get it.

and so i feel judged. incapable. exhausted. inhospitable. unable to both be my children's mother and an exemplary housekeeper. to both be my children's mother and an excellent host. to both be my children's mother and joyfully open my home to all guests. some times I am one of these, sometimes I am the other. more often than not I choose to hang with my kids, and some of those days are piloted on a bit of survival mode by the skin of my teeth. and my house is crazy, and while it's fine for us to live in this season of crazy house little kids tornado toddler etc, etc...

other people judge, dammit.

so I'm sorry. I'm sorry I feel so much anxiety with having people over who don't get it. I'm sorry if you're one of those people. I'm sorry my children and my family come before my playing host to you. or maybe I'm sorrynotsorry.

there will come a day where I have learned to fully grasp this, to manage and still clean my house and smile when you come to the door and greet you warmly and have clean hair, clothes, and skin.

where I can serve you and keep you and shine my countenance upon you.
but if I don't know that you get IT - the it where I am right now?

then I'm sorry, today is not the day yet where I can do that.

my girl. arms wide and heart abandoned.

taking him away doesn't help, either. I have no desire whatsoever to take my child elsewhere, away from me. this is not a helpful offer.

spending time with him, with us, observing what I do, then listening to what I say, and observing his reactions with love and encouraging him, and I - these are things I long for in the way of help.

because he doesn't walk to the park like a typical child. he runs. to the street. in the street.
he darts away from the park. to the street.

and if it's just me, I have the baby, the stroller, one child in one spot and one sprinting in the opposite direction. over and over and over.
these were the images that used to wake me in a cold sweat when I was a mama on my own...why, it's enough to make a mama's hair turn gray. (ha! and what's a mama to do who already has gray hair?)

he escapes the yard. he escapes the playground. he wants to escape the room, the house, the car, the store. he yearns for the open road. he's got big dreams, big plans, and a mighty big spirit. he just doesn't articulate it in the same language as the rest of us.

and so we stay home. nearly all of the time.

and the tornadoes ensue.

he has a storm brewing inside, when he is bored...and as his mama I have not completely learned how to guide it just yet. scratch that - if I am one on one with him, he is a lovely, completely manageable little sweetheart. honestly. because then I CAN manage his behaviors and catch and redirect and praise and teach.

and when there is a sweet moment, I lavish in it.

but I have four others.
and we play host FAR too often to so many who don't get it.

a lovely mama with many years of experience of raising her adult son with autism counseled me just last week, speaking of how overwhelmed she felt with the work of it when he was growing up.
"the work changed when I stopped trying to make him into who I wanted him to be; to stop throwing, stop yelling, stop it all. everything changed when I got down on the floor and threw with him. he looked at me as if to say,
'mama? you see me?'"


I get it, but I know that because he isn't my only I can't always get down and throw with him. (broken ipad/broken tv/gallon of paint down the stairs/abrasions, cuts and bruises from flying objects/broken dishes/safety of others)...and so sometimes I am worn thin.

too thin to be able to play host to you, the way you probably deserve, or the way I am capable of and hope to. at least not right now. unless you are one of those who gets it.
and I'm sorry.
well, I'm sorrynotsorry.

might not seem like a big deal, but it is. ready to start the day in shark boots & a fedora... that he put on ALL BY HIMSELF.

and then as if on cue, he shows me something he can do. and you're damn right I cried.

he is fantastic. so am I.


  1. Oh Laura, how I wished we lived in the same place! You just wrote EXACTLY what's in my heart and all the things that aggravate me! Amos is so much like my daughter. I think she eats 5 different foods. I KNOW that struggle and I am still fighting it. Did you know there's a place in Vancouver called West Coast Feeding and Behaviour Therapists. It was started by Lauren Binnendyk. I've heard she's fantastic. I can't get her help because I am up here. But I believe autism funding will pay for it. Not that you need me telling you how to do anything but I just like passing on things I know about in case it one day helps someone.
    It's a lonely life never leaving your house because of your child(ren). I still weigh whether or not certain situations will spark my daughter screaming or not. I mostly choose to eat what little I can find in the pantry than drag all 3 to the store when I can't handle yet another meltdown in that day.
    And the out of doors. What is the huge draw? My daughter will quietly walk the fence line through the brambles and tall grass, away by herself and she LOVES it. I long to move home (SASK) so I can see her walking away for 3 days and not worry about where she is. HAHAHA!
    Thank you for writing that. My heart just needed to see it in print.
    Blessings and hugs,
    Kelli S

  2. Very touching story. I went through a similar thing with my daughter. It is heart wrenchingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Laura, I just wanted to tell you that you take beautiful photographs. Also you have a beautiful story, and you are one strong mummy. My daughter has very bad social anxiety, and struggles with being around anyone besides mummy or daddy, and i thought that was difficult until I started babysitting a 3 year old little boy and his sister daily as well. He is autistic and tends to hit, break, and throw things most of the time, but there are moments when he is so sweet and loving to the two younger girls(his sister and my daughter)

    I live for those few sweet, playful moments, and they are gone all too soon, but worth every moment of outburst and tears.

    You are strong, and a wonderful parent. Thank you for writing and sharing this with us.

    God Bless,


make no mistake, I am smitten with your words. please say hello, or pour something out - you will make my heart happy.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...