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Posts Tagged ‘baby’

So it’s Thursday June 9th and I’m on a next-day deadline to submit my monthly column in the Capital District Parent Pages (though I’ve had a whole month to write it).

I’m sitting there thinking how strange it is that I write a column about a boy with autism who has become so violent we are planning to take him to live in a residential facility, and how the column is smack dab in the middle of a magazine featuring witty anecdotal tales of family life, articles about events, pages filled with fun places to take the kids, seasonal recipes, ideas for birthdays, and other parenting goings-on.  Sometimes I wonder why they even let me write the column.  I’m the bummer of the issue.  Hands-down.

And I’m thinking I don’t want to be the bummer of the issue this time (for the July issue).  So I sit there, and I sit there, but I don’t know what to write.

I haven’t even written here for a week.  How many times, after all, can you say the same thing with only the slightest of variations before you start to sound like a broken record?

It hits me that I could look backward, and so I write about times when he was a baby.

The words come quickly – it doesn’t take me long to finish.  They’re easier words because they are about the short span of time in which I had the same parenting experience everyone else had, more or less.

It’s not that Jonah has autism.   It would be fine, really, if only he didn’t get so enraged so quickly – become so unimaginably angry, so inexplicably aggressive.  Sometimes I feel as if I have done nothing for 41 years except bring a child into the world who is hell-bent on hurting others.  I almost can’t stand it.  I don’t want to stand it.  I want to stamp my feet like a small child and scream.

When I lean in to kiss him, more often then not I get scratched or grabbed by his whole hand on my face.

Einstein supposedly said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.   Some think he himself had some form of autism, but whatever the case, I still will lean in for the kiss.  It’s not that I’m expecting a different result.  It’s that I need a different result – and if I can get his sweet little kiss one time out of five, it is worth the other times.  I just want to be his mommy.

I don’t know my son anymore at all.  I don’t know why he hurts me (or Andy, or his teachers, or anyone).  I don’t know how Andy is staying afloat.  I don’t know how one or both of us is not back in Four Winds.  I’m no good at this.  I’m weak, depressed, and always, always afraid.  And there we go, folks, the record’s skipping – – you’ve heard it all – heard it all – heard it all before.

And so you see there is very little I can say these days.  I apologize if you have tried to reach me and I don’t write/call back, or you invite me somewhere and I say I can’t go.  It’s not like I have a great excuse except I just don’t want to talk about anything to anyone right now.  And I’m sorry for it.

I am not strong enough to leave it all behind me whenever life calls for socially acceptable behavior.  I know so many strong, determined, one-day-at-a-time parents in worse situations who operate on such a higher wavelength than me – who don’t bitch, or complain, or let on to anyone that there is anything amiss at all.

That’s not me.  I never was the sturdy one.  I’m the cry-baby.  I’m the one who crumbles.

And thus concludes today’s whimpering.

“Dorothy moves to click her ruby shoes
Right in tune with the dark side of the moon.
Someone, someone could tell me where I belong;
Be calm, be brave, it’ll be okay…”

~Guster, Come Downstairs & Say Hello

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Jonah’s got your usual assortment of ride-on toys:  bikes, scooters, wagons.  My mom even bought him this newfangled thing called a PlasmaCar.  You put your feet up on the toy and it’s propelled along, somehow, by steering and body movements alone.  As described on its website:  “It’s like magic, but you don’t need to be a magician to get it to work. The PlasmaCar is a mechanical marvel that makes use of that most inexhaustible of energy sources, kid-power, by harnessing the natural forces of inertia, centrifugal force, gravity, and friction. It’s so easy to operate; all it needs is a driver and a smooth, flat surface.” The PlasmaCar may be magic, but Jonah doesn’t know that and no amount of demonstration has helped him.  He just puts his feet down on the ground and scoots along on the thing.

We keep all these ride-on toys in our enclosed back porch, where Jonah’s play usually involves carefully arranging the placement of each toy.  Sometimes the construction of a village (in and of itself) is his play:  wagon over here, bike right beside it — angled just so — and the PlasmaCar tucked behind them both.  Even when he drags one out to actually ride on, the ride is always systematic and ritualized:

He’ll arrange the ride-on toys, select one, propel down off the step from the porch to the ground, and travel along our long, straight driveway next to the brick side of the house.  Make a sharp left turn at the walkway and stop at the steps to our front door.  Stand up and turn the toy around. Get back on.  Make sharp left turn and continue down to the edge of the driveway.  Pause.  Turn and travel along the side of the house to the porch area again.  Walk the toy up the step and back onto porch.  Close porch door.  Open porch door.  Steer toy toward the step.  Propel down off the step from the porch to the ground, and travel along our long, straight driveway next to the brick side of the house, etc.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Some of Jonah’s ride-on toys are outgrown Big Wheel type things that we keep around because Andy babysits a toddler once a week.  We’ve even got a baby stroller in there, and yesterday, for some reason, this was my 8 1/2 year old’s ride-on toy of choice.  He’d never ride in the damn thing when he was stroller age, which gave me a little flare-up of annoyance at such belated interest, but I was generally game.  I  figured he’d let me push him up and down the driveway; I could push him fast, make quick turns, and we’d have fun with it.  But Jonah insisted on going solo, propelling the stroller with his long big-kid legs.

Here he is at the end of our driveway, preparing for the Flintstones-style foot walk-ride back down the driveway.  I’ve ceased to be embarrassed by his many public eccentricities, so this didn’t really phase me; I figure we might even be entertainment for our normal neighbors.  But when he parked the stroller back on the porch, tucked both feet up on its footrest, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and gazed squarely over at me, I had to laugh at the unspoken challenge:

Yeah, I like the stroller.  Whaddaya gonna do about it?

He’s such a punk.

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