Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Used to Have All the Answers. Then I Had Children

It started over tea. She wanted to have a tea party. But she didn't want to use water. That's for babies! She wanted me to make tea. Which I couldn't do, I was helping her older sister with her Algebra. Part of homeschooling is taking turns. Littles, at 7, isn't always good with that. Well, let's face it, she is really bad at it. When it is her turn, she expects everyone else to wait. But make her wait? And it is Meltdown-City. She will extract her pound of flesh, one way or another. Of course, it passed. It always does. But the aftermath for me is the hardest part. The way I am left feeling: drained, defeated, ready to cry.

I suppose I shouldn't be too upset. She hasn't had a tantrum all week long. Her dad was gone for ten days and in that time, she has been fine. We have had a few missteps here and there, but no full blown I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU episodes. Maybe that means she is getting older. Maybe that means the developmental delay that is Autism Spectrum Disorder is righting itself. Maybe that means the naked chanting that I did by melting green crayon and throwing sheets to the wind has paid off. (I am just kidding about that last part.) Maybe it's just that the tide is high and the moon is low. Hell, I don't know.

And that's part of the problem. I don't know. If you ask me a question about grammar or algebra or llama breeding, I can probably tell you. Or, barring that, I can find out. But as far as the exact reason my daughter is tantrumming, or the tried and true foolproof method of stopping said fit, that seems to be missing on Google. Certainly there are suggestions, but what if they don't work? What then? With children, you don't add A to B and necessarily get C.

If I was a carpenter, I would be sure that I have the latest tools, the best ones to get the job done. A hammer will always work as a hammer. A level, well, that's designed for leveling. With just a few simple tools, a carpenter can build many things. With a few more, he becomes a master craftsman. It can take a lifetime to wield the tools correctly. But even if his skill is only passable, he will be able to create a chair.

As a parent, I work hard to develop my parenting skills. I think if had neurotypical children I would be a pretty good parent. I add tools to my toolbox often. They say if you only tool you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. I am guilty of this at times. But a soft word or patience? Those don't always work. In truth, there are times that I run out of tools in my toolbox. I keep thinking if I just gain more gadgets, if I just learn more schematics, I will, eventually, build the Taj Mahal. But with autism? All bets are off. Sometimes, a level ends up as a fulcrum. Or a hammer ends up as a paper weight. Sometimes, I end up dancing around like a monkey because I have to think outside the box. Down is up, and and Left is Right and OhMyGod is it 5 o' clock yet??

I am not a drinker. I have a bit of Irish Cream or Kahlua in my hot cocoa or coffee about twice a month. A glass of wine about as often. And though I talk about it, I just don't do it. There are times I wish I did drink more. Then I wouldn't care so damn much when I reach the end of the toolbox and find nothing but sandpaper and a ball ping hammer. But I do care, and it kills me and I always wonder, why can't I be a better parent? Why can't I help her calm down before she gets to that place where she is completely unreasonable? Why must I be left feeling like a hollow shell with every nerve exposed? What am I doing wrong?

T, who will be fine later, just right now it's hard

5 sent chocolate:

topsytechie said...

Beautifully written. All bets are off with these kiddos, and I, for one, am feeling highly inadequate to the task lately. And as if it weren't hard enough trying to figure out what to do and say to make things "better", there's this lovely mom guilt that sneaks in to make you question everything. Sigh.

Starlene said...

I'm wishing I had answers for you but I don't even have answers of my own. Just wanted to let you know I "get" you and I'm right there with you, dear friend.

Hubby's been traveling more than he used to, hasn't he?

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

I could have written that post about my WildChild, the only differences? She's only 6. I don't know if she is HFA because I never had her tested.

She tests me.
She takes unbelievable temper tantrums after which I want to shrivel up and die. I don't know what to do - I try to grab a new tool - they work for a week or two and then they stop. Do I stop using it correctly or does it loose it's power ... not sure which. I want to be a better mom. I'm lost, exhausted, beaten and bruised.

I wish you were my neighbor.

Rabacal said...

I really enjoy your blog. You really have a way with words and you really hit the nail on the head with this one! ;)

T. said...

topsytechie: thanks. I wonder if Mommy Guilt is the great equalizer. Do you think all moms feel it, no matter how successful they are?

Starlene: thanks for weighing in. I Know you know what I am talking about. I miss our conversations. I hope that you are enjoying your not-so-new surroundings.

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact!: I think sometimes, even if does not get easier, the fits get less...frequent? Just hang in there, and I know that having a support system makes a huge difference. Glad you stopped by, and I hope it helped.

Rabacal: Thanks for the encouragement, and for reading. You all are the reason I do this. Knowing you aren't alone is a huge help, I think.

T.

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