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Just Stop for a Second…How actually taking a break, forced a change.

Lately, it seems that even the smallest things seem to set my son off. His anxiety has been amplified with the onset of puberty, and aided by a new vitamin regimen. What was supposed to be a natural way to help alleviate his attention issues, and help soothe his anxiety has amped him up to the point no matter what it was, if something didn’t go his way, his life sucked.

No, really. This is what he would say.

“This has been a really terrible 2016.”

“I never win at anything.”

“I’m such a loser.”

“Why is my life so hard?”

These questions said by any child would break their mama’s heart, but when spoken by my ASD kid, it shakes me to my core.

Jackson was always a very silly kid. Always happy. For a number of years, he was just kind of naively happy. As he’s gotten older and more self-aware, his happy times have become less and less. Don’t get me wrong, his peers would still most likely describe him as happy and silly, but, at home, it’s not always the case.

When Jackson is playing a game and can’t get past a level, he bangs the controller. He knows better, but can’t seem to help it. He will say, “Ugh! Why does nothing EVER go right for me?” to himself, asking a rhetorical question to himself, not even realizing that with every utterance, my heart is ¬†cracking, wider and wider apart.

When he is trying to explain something to me, and I’m just not getting it, he says, “Forget it”, and walks away. For so long, I dreamed of the day when he and I could engage in dialogue. Now, for him to give up on me so easily, it seems so unfair and cruel. It’s like, “Here’s a taste! Oops, nope, you’re too late.”, a tease of how motherhood could be.

He and his sister can’t give each other an inch! A millimeter these days. And, again, I know this is typical, but what’s not typical is not being able to rationale and reason with your son. For him to see everything as a personal slight, and not just the way things can be sometimes. For him to understand that this has nothing to do with how his sister is acting, but that sometimes he is the one in the wrong.

And I get that this is a hard concept for him since he was not even part of the equation for so long. His interaction with his sister, and others, was so much less even two years ago. And there are compromises that people make when they engage with other people. He doesn’t get that. His social skills have always been lacking (something all too common with ASD kids), so he doesn’t get the give and take, the yin and yang of relationships. It’s all new to him. And, therefore, so is for us to know how to teach it to him. But it’s so difficult to do when he is beating himself up. You don’t want to kick him while he’s down for goodness sake!

So, it’s a dance. A balance of finding the teachable moments and letting something slide. It’s about holding yourself accountable to be able to teach him through example.

Today, I had one of those. They don’t come along often and, usually when they do, you aren’t aware enough until after they’ve happened. Like today.

We were enjoying the last hurrah at the town pool and Jackson was waiting for the ice cream truck to arrive. It hadn’t been there yet and it seemed to me like it wasn’t coming. I asked if he wanted something from the snack bar instead. He said he wanted Lemon Ice, which is not at the snack bar. I suggested we go look and see if there is anything he likes. We did and, on the way, I stopped at the front desk to ask if the ice cream truck was coming. They called the driver and he said he wasn’t. Crap! Onward to the snack bar, where there was nothing to satisfy my boy. We walked back to the blanket, Jackson muttering under his breath about all the bad things in his life. Now, I had told him before we went to the snack bar that if there wasn’t anything he liked, I would make him a brownie sundae at home (who would say no to this??). But, as we walked back to the blanket, and he got more and more frustrated and then asked me if we could go find Lemon Ice, my patience dwindled, my kindness lapsed. I didn’t answer him. I didn’t answer him because I felt that he didn’t deserve it now. It was like the spoiled sport getting the the trophy just because he cried. No! You don’t get it just because you couldn’t get what you wanted. If his behavior had been better, I might have offered it to him, that we find it someplace else, but not after the way he acted.

We got back to the blanket and he laid down and put a towel over his head. I was all ready to tell him to get that towel off of his head when a mom came over and sat down next to me and started talking. Our daughters were playing together and she wanted to pay a compliment to me, about my daughter. Which was lovely and very welcome at that moment. And we chatted for about ten minutes or so, maybe longer. And in that time, Jackson recovered. All on his own. And he sat up and asked me for money so he could go get ice cream from the snack bar.

Holy crap! Did that just happen? By my doing nothing, he managed to figure it out.

I explained the situation and thanked the mom for helping me avoid a bad parenting moment which would have ended in both Jackson and I feeling worse. Me feeling guilty for losing my cool, and Jackson confused why I was frustrated.

The other day, before this ice cream incident, I decided that every time I looked at Jackson, I was going to smile. And I told him that. He smiled back at me and said, “I love you mom.”

And I did. Every time that day, no matter what he said or did, if I was looking at him, I smiled and it made a difference. I was less quick to anger. I was able to look at my boy’s face and see that little silly boy bopping through life. And it made me feel lighter. It made me feel happier. So, I smiled more, and he smiled more, and he talked to me more, and he got less frustrated. It seemed like he trusted me and relied on me to be there for him unconditionally, and to let him know that everything is ok.

Because it is. It’s not perfect. But it’s not horrible, either. It’s ok. And for today, that’s gonna have to be enough.

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