Beserker Ninja: An Illustrated Guide to My (Lack of) Autism Parenting Skills

Crap.

I’ve been in a mood since last Wednesday after I left my therapist’s office. It looks like this:

No Umbrella ... ella ... ella ... ella

Why do I never have a fucking umbrella when I need one. Rhhhhhhiiiiaaaannnaaaa!!!

I’ve started – I don’t know – three different blog posts? But, I haven’t been able to finish any of them, because while the posts are about topics that matter to me, they aren’t really what’s been on my mind. I showed at least enough restraint not to delete them, because they’re probably worth finishing when I’m not such a Crabby Crabberson.

Little Black Cloud Syndrome happens to me in cycles. I hit what seems a sudden and unpredictable week that feels wholly unbearable. My bed feels too comfortable to exit, but not comfortable enough in which to sleep. My clothes feel like a straitjacket. Everyone’s voice is too loud, and people are annoying because – I don’t know – they breathe. The sun feels like someone is stabbing my retinas with a thousand needles. I’m starving, but nothing seems appetizing or tastes good. I’m tired but my body will not hold still. Concentrating on anything other than menial, repetitive tasks is OUT of the question. I just want to hide in my room with my laptop and a book. If Helene will “hide” with me – and she often will – all the better. (Except for the iPad volume control issue. Apple, if you’re listening, could we get on that please? Some kind of parental lock for the volume would be bananas amazing. Thanks.)

The last time Little Black Cloud Syndrome hit me, I knew for sure this wasn’t a PMS-y, hormonal thing. It was serious, and I needed to call my doctor.

(Aside: I have one of those doctors who thinks everything that’s wrong with me is stress or hormone related. For example,

Doctor: Well, yes, I see that you’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake. It probably sensed your stress. Let me refer you to Mental Health.

Me: Uh, I’m no doctor, but I think I actually need like an injection or something that’s the opposite of deadly poisonous venom?

Doctor: You’re right. You’re not a doctor. Here’s the number for Mental Health.

Or,

Doctor: This x-ray shows you’ve broken your hand. I’ll send you over to casting, but then you should probably have your thyroid tested.

Me: I broke my hand in a car accident, Dr. O. The other driver hit me. I was stopped.

Doctor: Well, you were probably gripping the steering wheel too tightly due to stress caused by hormonal imbalance.

Me: Yeah, there was “stress!” It was the stress of seeing the other guy coming at me in the rearview mirror at 50 miles per hour and having nowhere to go. I mean, call my ‘crazy,’ but I think that’s a pretty normal non-thyroid-y reaction to the circumstances.

Doctor: Mental illness is not a joking matter. Please take this order to the lab, Ms. A.

Me: That’s Professor A to you, Doctor O. Or, if you prefer, Counselor as in legal counselor. Not the touchy-feely shit you’re sending me down the hall for. FYI.

So, you can imagine the sick, I-told-you-so satisfaction he got out of me finally letting him refer me to Mental Health. He pointed at me with a big-ass grin on his face, dancing around the room, going “Uh-huh! That’s right! I’m the doctor! I’m the doctor! I’m the doctor!,” spiked his stethoscope and did a Tiger Woods-esque arm pump. Or maybe just the corner of his mouth curled up in the slightest of smug and self-satisfied smirks. Whatevs.

The day was moving along. I was properly caffeinated. I’d been adequately fed. As I exited the parking lot of a shopping center, however, my mood ring went from blue to black in less than the lifespan of an ice cube on hot asphalt in Georgia in the middle of July.

I know it is difficult to imagine, but my description of the relative locations of the parties involved would actually be worse than my drawing of a diagram. So, I’m going to draw a diagram. Now is not the time for complaining. First, you haven’t even seen it yet. Second, do you really want a beserker-ninja beat down?

I AM A BESERKER NINJA!  FEAR ME!

Yeah. I thought not.

Cool. So, here’s the diagram:

Scene Where Shit Was Lost (a/k/a Mall Parking Lot)

Okay. I’m driving along main artery of the parking lot. (Orangish-square with the “1” in it, above.) Bad Driver Lady (Orangish-yellow square clearly about to t-bone my car) runs her stop sign but manages to hit the brakes before she hits me. It’s cool. I’m not perfect behind the wheel by any means. (It’s true. This one time (not at band camp), a parking column actually jumped right into my car. It was some crazy shit, man. Did like $5,000 in damage. (And to this day, I wish I had an audio recording of my conversation with the GEICO adjuster.)) Any-who, I was just gonna let her roll on.

But.

BUT!

Bad Driver Lady flips me her middle finger.

OH. NO. YOU. DIDN’T.

(For my readers from another land, this is the Charades equivalent of “Go Fuck Yourself.” It is sometimes called “Flipping the bird,” which has nothing to do with flipping or birds, so I cannot even begin to explain how that little colloquialism was born. Apparently, someone else figured it out, though, so here you go. I don’t know. Something to do with bows and arrows. It sounds a little too Monty Python-ish to me. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. But…

http://www.etsy.com/listing/62682834/garden-gnome-flipping-the-bird-concrete

Like this, but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t winking – twitching maybe – but not winking.

Worse, I could also see her mouth moving around some words that probably everyone is better off for me not having actually heard. The expression on her mean-mug face said all I really needed to know.

Then, I heard something snap. It maybe was the tendons in my ankle ripping under the force I used to hit the brakes on my car? But the likelier culprit is my mind.

I threw the car in park, flung off my seat belt, and before I really knew what I was doing, no plan whatsoever, I was outside my car about four feet from Bad Driver Lady’s ridiculous SUV. (This surprises you?)

Grrrrrrrrr!

Me: Hey! Let me ask you something. Are you illiterate or just a really bad fucking driver? (Gesturing to the large white letters painted on the ground. See the spectacular diagram above.) S. T. O. P. For Christ’s sake, even my four-year old can read that!

Bad Driver Lady: (With a lingering Valley Girl accent, which means she’s likely from Southern California, where driving is a whole other level of Atari.) Whatever. You totally saw me coming and sped up. You know you did. And you don’t have to get out of your car, ’cause I can get out of my car, too.

Me: Sure, get out of your car. Spare the rest of us your shitty driving. Maybe we can stand here and chat about how stop signs work and why you probably shouldn’t wave at people with your middle finger.

Bad Driver Lady: I can totally get out of my car, too. I can!

At this point, some semblance of sanity returned to replace the adrenaline rushing through my body. I think the flow of adrenaline was stemmed by the satisfaction of calling Bad Driver Lady “illiterate” despite quickly realizing Bad Driver Lady had no fucking idea what “illiterate” meant. The recaptured sanity also made my brain finally register the presence of a large German Shepard in the backseat of Bad Driver Lady’s car, which my eyes had seen but my mind had not really considered as a variable in any of the possible outcomes of this little tete-a-tete. Plus, she was really leaving me no place to go other than: “Get out here so I can kick your ass,” or “I know you are but what am I?” I believe this is what’s known as an “impasse.”

So, I got back in my car and drove away. In the direction opposite my house, of course, because things are now starting to occur to me that were nowhere to be found a mere 60 seconds prior. What if this was the mother of one of the kids’ friends? What if I end up in line behind her at the coffee place. Holy Angels and Target Gift Cards, what if she works for the district and is at my kid’s next IEP meeting!?!? This is not a big town.

Moments later I pulled over — in all places, the parking lot of my high school — and broke down in tears.

Because – yes, right now it’s a funny story – but it might not have been. What the holy hell was I thinking? Stupid question. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking. And THAT is the problem. Every now and then I feel like I am losing control of my brain, which freaks me the hell out, because besides some pretty nice feet, my brain is my BEST asset. (I do have really nice feet, though. Organ pipe toes and everything. Eddie Murphy would approve.)

Look. I want to make something very clear before anyone gets an itchy 911 finger. I had NO — I repeat NO — intention of actually starting some kind of physical confrontation with Bad Driver Lady. I’m pretty sure the only human being I’ve ever hit in anger is my sister. (But, she started it.) I confronted Bad Driver Lady because I was so overcome with the urge to defend myself — to prove that it was not I who should get fucked in the scenario.

The rational part of my brain fully comprehends that this is unnecessary and – frankly – impossible. The facts are what they are, and Bad Driver Lady will ignore them the same way she ignored the stop sign. I can neither fix nor be responsible for stupid.

Also, so what? I don’t know her. I don’t want to know her. What the hell does it matter that I’m “right?” Why – despite that I am a grown woman, the mother of two children (who I like to think are better off with me), a wife, a lawyer, a professor – does the rational side of my brain lose control to the emotional side like that?

I would not describe myself as some road-raging lunatic who confronts people in parking lots. When kids at school would all crowd around two people in a fight, I ran away. I couldn’t stand to see real-life violence. Except, there I was, without a moment’s hesitation — without a second of thought about the possible consequences until I was already knee-deep in the proverbial shit — acting like a road-raging lunatic in a parking lot.

What if Bad Driver Lady did get out of the car? What if she hit me? What if she’d had a gun? None of these were wholly unrealistic possibilities. These realizations and my embarrassment at how I behaved are what triggered the tears as I sat in front of the building that was so ridiculously symbolic I kept waiting for Simple Minds to come on the radio and Justin Henry to come around the corner carrying a birthday cake.

Why am I confessing this? Because I know the cause, but not the remedy. Because I need help.

Every day, my morning starts with a beautiful, now-five-year-old face staring into my sleeping, mascara-smeared, slightly wrinkled eyes. After we stumble to the bathroom and use the potty, we get back into bed. I hold my breath, because I know it’s coming.

Mama. No school today.

Except that it’s Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or Friday. And there is school.

I don’t answer. I get up, smear a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a Cinderella toothbrush, and start singing. When we’re done:

Mama? No school today?

I don’t answer and slip down the hall to get a clean outfit. As soon as I reappear in my bedroom, the wild rumpus begins.

No, Mama! No school! No school! I want covers! I want to go to bed! I don’t like school! Please, Mama! No shirt! No pants! I don’t like it! Get off! Get off of me! Please! I want to go to bed! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

It is usually somewhere around 8:15 to 8:30 a.m. when this starts. It continues through getting dressed, trying to get breakfast down, fighting about putting shoes on, kicking and screaming to the car, singing 400 verses of Itsy Bitsy Spider from the driveway at home to the parking lot at school, sitting in the office to wait for a classroom assistant to retrieve Helene, and matching her tearful and fearful goodbye with an artificially cheery, “Have a GREAT day!”. The time is now 10:17 a.m.

All morning, through the crying, begging, pleading, hiding, escape attempts, hitting, kicking, thrashing, screaming, I have to maintain a calm, even voice. (Imagine Dora the Explorer on speed and speaking in a voice about one octave lower than a dog whistle before reading the next quotes.)

Helene is mad. But, it’s time for shoes! Let’s put on our shoes! 🙂

Helene doesn’t like school. That’s too bad, but we’re going anyway! 🙂

By the time I leave campus to plod back to my car, my nerves are so frayed – my senses are so overloaded – my spirit is so broken, I can barely stand to be around myself let alone anyone else. I have about three hours to collect myself AND get some work done (you know, so that we can do little things – like pay the mortgage) before Helene gets home from school. There will be a short reprieve and some snuggling until 3:00 p.m., which brings the commencement of the witching hour, ripe with meltdowns over food, television shows, iPads, falls from the sofa, snacks — you name it. Each meltdown is met with my same psychotically artificially calm voice the ABA therapists are so convinced will redirect or “extinguish” unwanted behaviors.

I imagine that now you may have an inkling why Bad Driver Lady got a full-frontal of my beserker-ninja personality. If it’s still unclear, drop a roll of Mentos candies into a two-litre bottle of carbonated soda, put the lid back on, and shake vigorously.

Ping!

That about covers it.

So, my parents of spectrum kids or my adult followers who are on the spectrum: What do you do to check yourself before your wreck yourself? How do you let it out in an appropriate way as opposed to calling people out in the mall parking lot?

My therapist made me go I finally went to the Mental Health department and am now taking anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds. I started running again. Both of these things are very helpful, but they aren’t enough.

Is it the behavioral and emotional meltdowns that are stressful? I know that’s true for Helene. When she has a really big loss of control, it is usually followed by a good long nap.

Or is the real stress (for me anyway) in suppressing my natural responses to Helene’s behavioral and emotional meltdowns?

Does the answer to that even matter? I’m not being facetious; I truly don’t know, and I would be thrilled to hear any advice you’re willing to share.

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32 comments on “Beserker Ninja: An Illustrated Guide to My (Lack of) Autism Parenting Skills

  1. Leo says:

    Sometimes we all need to yell at someone. I’ve been known to GO OFF on the cable company representatives over the phone. And then later I worry that they have recorded me and these tirades will be published to the nation if I ever decide to run for office. … I’ve got nothing helpful, but to tell you to keep writing about it. Your posts are good and people relate.

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      Thanks, Leo. And, seriously, is there anyone who WOULDN’T vote for you after those tapes are played? I think you’d win the election in a landslide because: (a) we all think four-hour “windows” are ridiculous; just give us a damn appointment time, (b) we all know the cable guy isn’t coming until at least five minutes after the four-hour “window” closes, and (c) we all know we will be either in the shower, at the grocery store, picking up kids from school or otherwise unable to get to the door when the cable guy finally arrives, meaning we have to start the process all over again. No voters, save a small contingency of cable guys, would be anything but enamored of you saying what we all WANT to say. Call me when you need a campaign manager. I got this. 🙂

  2. blogginglily says:

    Hmm. First of all, and most importantly. . . I liked the writing here. Good story.

    I’m extremely fortunate in that I have a partner who TYPICALLY is able to step in with the kiddos when she senses I’m at the frayed edge of snapping. We compliment each other pretty well. I’m pretty even tempered though, and usually when I snap. . . I snap into a happy place. Like I snap. . . and then all the bullshit that seemed so important to me becomes MUCH less important.

    Late for work/potty accident/broken glasses/slapped her sister. . . each of these things ramps the stress graph up higher until the last thing snaps it and I find myself amazingly stress free. But I’m incapable of being stress free all the time. . . it takes a brain breaking snap. . .

    Road rage. . . I’ve gotten a lot better at this. Having kids in the car mostly cured me. Mostly. But it IS such an infuriating thing to have someone almost t-bone you. . . have it be completely THEIR fault, then flip YOU off like YOU are somehow the asshole in the situation. It happens all the time. . . in fact I’ve done it to someone. I realized it later, but the lady must have been furious with me. I’ll have to find that story and share it on my other blog. So stupid.

    Anyway. I hope the medication helps. I don’t have any tips or tricks at all. I still snap. I still fly off the handle. I just go back and say sorry and vow to myself to try harder not to let it happen the next time.

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you. A lot of the time, just not feeling alone is the the biggest help. 95% of the time, I do fine with the kids. I’ve probably lost it with Nate more than Helene over the years, but I’m pretty sensitive about that stuff because of how … what’s the word here … diplomacy, diplomacy … GOT IT: limited my parents were in their parenting skills. What I am the total suck at is this ABA therapy stuff. It’s completely unnatural and – apparently – when I’m away from it, I pop the cap off my diet Coke. So, I am going to learn this phrase of which you speak – this “I’m sorry” magic. I will report back. 🙂 Thanks again, you.

  3. blogginglily says:

    There. . . I posted it. And linked to you!

  4. Heather says:

    I have a really horrible, quick temper. It’s genetic, and has been passed down through at least three generations. I have learned to control it because I actually scare myself when it lets loose–‘Holy shit, who WAS that person?’

    So for me, when I lose my temper that badly once or twice a year, it is the direct result of me stifling it and keeping it in check the rest of the year, I think.

    I don’t have any great advice for you. I probably would have done the same thing you did, including pulling over to have a good cry and to kick myself in the ass for letting the emotions take reign over the common sense. I’m pretty good at staying settled most of the time, now, but Big Bad Temper still gets the best of me sometimes.

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      Sigh. I’m pretty sure mine is genetic, too. Isn’t that both a comfort and a curse? I mean, at least it’s not really our fault. We can be all, “Look, Lady Gaga, I was bornthis way!” But, then, we’re kind of stuck with it? I need a way to get this aspect of my personality laser-removed. You know, like a tattoo you get in college when you’re all shit-faced and out with your “friends” and one of them throws down a dare, and someone else double-dares and before you know it, it’s 5:30 in the morning, and your hair is matted to your face, there’s a vague stench of tequila coming off your pores, and you have a searing pain in your ankle, but you don’t know why until you see the giant ladybug with a cross-bones crawling up your ankle … 😉

  5. Love this post! I would be lying if I said I’d always handled my temper. My most challenging parenting was when my girl was little and I was a single parent. The isolation of no back up coupled with child’s Jekyll/Hyde behavior pattern (angel at school) was stressful. My coping mechanism is to let my mind jump to the most extreme negative outcome, embrace it, then step back and work my way down. I have to deal with the preposterous worst case scenario first, or all my energy goes into trying to pretend I’m not over reacting.

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      Holy moley, Bridget. I have MASSIVE — HUGE — respect for a parent who does it alone. My husband and I don’t always agree on how to handle or respond to a given situation, but at least there are four hands and four eyes between us.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective with me. I really, really appreciate it. It is exactly what I need right now.

  6. I have no home-life-stressiness but I have road rage, so that means I really have nothing to blame the road rage on but me and my temper of insanity. I have gotten better, but, yeah, there are days that screaming at jerkwads happens. I can’t help it. THEY CAN NOT DRIVE. Seriously, you’re putting me and others at risk. STOP DOING THAT.

    I don’t know what the fix is. I’m sure other people have better ways to deal with it than I do. My way of dealing is to either scream or cry, then it usually goes away. Neither are all that helpful, I’m sure.

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      Eh, we ALL have home-life stressiness; it’s all relative. (Or, relatives, come to think of it, even when they aren’t in your/my home.) So, you are entitled to a temper of insanity, especially if you follow the rules and STILL get yelled at for it.

      A couple days after this incident happened, I thought about your theatre-jerk post and about how I was so impressed you kept your cool through the whole thing even though they were the BIGGEST crap-wagons to you. And now you know that I meant it when I told you would have given Mr. Manager McMannerless a verbal ninja beat down, all the while knowing I’d feel like shit about it afterward.

      And, it’s okay not to know what the fix is. THIS is probably the fix – to be able to write about these things and have people come by and say, “Hey, me too.” Or send a virtual hug. Or, a virtual kick in the pants. (Although if you guys could please stop making me laugh while drinking, that’d be great, because I don’t think you can send a virtual Heimlich.)

      Seriously, it helps that I can vent a little into a place where I don’t have to be perfect or right — just me, still in my pajamas at 1:43 in the afternoon — and know some people I like are listening.

  7. lahikmajoe says:

    I could totally get out of my car, too. I could.

    But I take the train to work. I suppose I could get out of the train. Why did she keep saying that? Was that some sort of threat? Was she challenging you to a contest? A getting-out-of-the-car off?

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      If it was a getting-out-of-the-car off she wanted, she wasn’t very good at it. But, then, I guess that explains a lot about her understanding of road signs and operating a vehicle, too … Maybe I should’ve challenged her to a battle of wits. To the death.

  8. gkinnard says:

    Whew! Wow! Ouch! OMG! . . . is it safe to come out now?

    I’m going to offer an opinion: you’re normal and life is stupidly crazy. You’ve got a LOT of stuff going on—more than most folks could handle. Pat yourself on the back every day that you survive without going bonkers. It’s okay to blow off steam—you have my permission—bottling it up is worse. Yell when it’s safe to yell. Vent. Get it on out of your system. Then forget about it. You know that the Bad Driver Lady is out having a Mai Tai, right? She’s already forgotten about it—you should as well!

    For most of Sam’s school life we’ve had no trouble at all getting him to get ready for school in the morning. However, we did have a stretch (age 6 or 7?) when it was an issue. Yelling, screaming, pleading, bribing, etc. did no good. We had to use drastic measures. Sam was scared of two things then: Roseanne Barr and the shop vac. Sam hated the noises that both made (especially Roseanne). If he wouldn’t cooperate with getting ready for school, we headed towards the VCR with the VHS tape with Roseanne’s name on it. That usually got him going. If it didn’t I went out to the garage and fetched the shop vac and feigned plugging it in. Thank God that didn’t have to go on long!

    If it makes you feel any better, I’ve spent about 1 ½ hours chasing three very elusive flies around my house. My 6’ 230lb son is scared to death of them. He runs and hides at first then yells at least 600 times, “We got to kill that fly! Kill it now! You kill that fly now, Dad!”

    Some how, some way, folks like us usually don’t go completely nuts; we just get through it. Hang in there!

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      Thank you, thank you — a thousand thank you’s George.

      I did think for a moment, I wonder if Bad Driver Lady has a blog, and she’s telling this nutty story over there?? But, you’re right. She struck me as the fruity-little-umbrella drink type. 🙂

      Vacuums and flies — the enemies of so many kids of the spectrum. I can’t even walk BY the vacuum. And no one rests if there is a fly in the house. So reading these stories and encouraging words from you was like getting the best of hugs.

    • Oooh that is too funny George – Roseanne & the fly! Love it!
      OK, back to the topic – losing it! I am losing it regularly at the moment – so absolutely feeling your pain! Of course the driving/road rage stuff is all about one of our most basic brain functions – fight or flight. Last year I totally got out of my car when a young driver almost T-boned me & the babies. I stopped the car at a turn where she had no where to go, got out, went up to her window and asked her WTF she was doing. How did she think she was going to feel after killing or maiming a couple of little babies, because she was in too much of a hurry to stop at an intersection. Needless to say I was in fight mode.
      I too have had to take my little guy kicking and screaming to the bus. Last week it took them about 15 mins to get him calm enough to be able to drive away. It’s exhausting! It leaves you with nothing in the tank. Certainly not enough sense to stay in the car!
      It’s feels like the road ahead is very long sometimes, but your humor and possibly some medication may help to smooth out the bumps. I hope so. We love you ProfMomEsq!!!

      • ProfMomEsq says:

        So much gratitude — thank you, thank you. I am replenished by every story that proves it’s not just me, I’m not alone, no one is perfect at this, and no one is expected to be.

        Who knows. The meds may not help, but they can’t hurt. (Seriously, I read the package insert. It’s not even as scary as the commercials. And none of the side effects included “road rage,” so I think I’m good.) I continue to try to keep a sense of humor. Whatever Supreme Being dropped me off down here at least had the decency to give me the good sense to laugh at myself and to be perfectly willing to be the butt of my own jokes.

        Are you and L still struggling since your trip for the reunion, or was resistance to school already there? How does he do once he’s at school? (I’m going now to read your post about your most recent weekend away with the kids …)

  9. I love this post, and empathize, although you seem to have quite a bit more justifcation for losing it than I do. That woman totally deserved it and if I had the morning routine you do, I would probably be appearing in court for kicking out her headlight. I have got some crazy rage that flares up, more often when I am pushing the limits of ability–trying to turn real me into “perfect” me. Be kind to yourself.

  10. Suzanne says:

    Instead of getting out of the car in a threatening way I just scream “Stupid bitch whore” until my kids tell me to calm down 😉

    All kidding aside, I know exactly how you feel. It’s like were glued together most days by kid boogers, pop tarts and that goldfish paste that always jumps out of the kids’ mouth when they’ve stuffed too many fish in there. Most of the time I feel like an old engine that, if you mess with one little thing, the entire motor will seize. Girlfriend, you need some respite. See if your local agency (you can find out through school or your pediatrician) has a program that will provide hours for someone to come take your baby out in the world. I was so scared at first, but my daughter (who will be 18 in August) loves it (most days). She has her own “friend” and they do things like bowl, go the park or just a walk around the mall. They can even stay home and just play. We only get around 8 hours a week, but it’s just enough to give everyone a break. You may even be able to arrange for her community support worker to come in the mornings to help you (see here? help YOU!) get Helene ready in the morning. Honestly, it is one of the BEST things we ever did!

    I struggle with anxiety (ummm, hello, I worry about the garbage men??!! I am not a sane person) and depression and have had some of my darkest hours trying to be everything to everyone, working two jobs and trying to keep the household functional. I realized that I had to let some things go – my house doesn’t need to be Martha Stewart beautiful and damn, it’s ok that I might have to wash an entire load of underwear in order for everyone in the house to have clean undies for the morning (oh, and then wake up at 3am and realize I never put said undies in the dryer). Close your eyes, clear your heart and let it go.

    You can only last so long without blowing a gasket. Years ago, I had to seek out professional help because Courtney’s meltdowns had escalated in frequency and length. I found a cool therapist who specialized in ASD. After a horrible meltdown over a family trip to movies where we bought our tickets, walked around our little town window shopping and then went back to the theater, Courtney was in such a state that she wouldn’t even SIT with us at the theater. Our therapist pointed out that we “fucked her up,” because we always bought our tickets and went into the movies….by deviating from her norm by window shopping we created this maelstrom.

    I think we all need someone to tell us that “we fucked her up” which avoids the need to “fuck SOMEONE up.”

    • Suzanne says:

      and I meant that we “fucked her up” when we suddenly leave the norm, not like, she needs therapy for the rest of her life fucked her up. Wait, do you think she’ll need therapy?????

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      Hey, Suzanne. Welcome. And, yeah, I smelled what you were sayin’. 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment. I hope you know how much knowing I’m not alone on some level helps me. I’m sure some woman going to Whole Foods today thanks you as well.

      The “boogers, pop tarts and goldfish paste” made me giggle. They (the big, nefarious, global “they”) say the truest things are said in jest. Which means I probably need a shower?

      Seriously, you’re right. I need a little respite. I must learn not to feel guilty about that first, though? I talk to other ASD parents, and I hear what their days are like, and I think, I am such a sissy. Because, on the whole, Helene’s pretty awesome when I’m not transitioning her out of the house. I’m not yet writing blog posts that are all “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again. But, I suppose the whole point of respite is to avoid getting to that. (See, I’m kinda smart. Sort of.)

      If Martha Stewart dropped by here, she’d red-tag my shit in a heartbeat. I gave up a clean house a long time ago. If I even go near the vacuum, Helene goes DEFCON 5, so you can imagine how appealing my carpeting looks. And I have TOTALLY set my alarm for 4:00 a.m. to move clothing from washer to dryer so that my older kid and husband have a fighting chance of leaving the house clothed and wearing clean underwear. So, that part, I’m good with. It’s all the other stuff — work (which thankfully I’m doing now from home on a part-time basis), Helene’s anxiety about school, dealing with various agencies (who cannot do anything unless it’s in super-slo-mo), trying not to neglect or short-change Nate, keeping everyone fed (preferably with something that doesn’t come in a drive-thru bag) and being the kind of wife you don’t up your insurance policy limits for — that makes me a little stabby. Thankfully, I have a pretty good therapist myself, and the medication I’m on seems to be working. At least according to my sister, who told me the other day, “Wow. This is the most I’ve *ever* liked you.” 🙂

      • Suzanne says:

        My daughter is 17 and her only noise issue at this point is fireworks (we must hide for the week leading up to and following the BIG DAY– JULY 4, the bane of my existence). I remember when she was little she hated the vacuum but REALLY freaked when the phone rang, which I had no control over. For years we had a Mickey Mouse phone who talked when a call came in. The first 10 times it was cute ” Heh heh, you’ve got a call,” but the 11th through the 158,458,722,485,241 time? Not so much. I wanted to break his little effin white gloved hand off and, well anyway…
        They do tend to grow out of some of those things, so time is your friend.

        And yes, I still feel guilty when Court goes off with her respite worker, even when I have the windows rolled down, my hair blowing in the breeze and Bon Jovi blasting on the radio. Respite is the secret to finding time for Nate, becoming the wife you want to be (or your husband wants you to be???) and finding time for yourself that isn’t full of worry.

        Transitions suck. Maybe if we called them something else, it would help? Like, “Honey in 5 minutes we’re going to VODKA (sip for mommy) to the car.”

        My love, you are doing an amazing job. I am a teacher and I see what is at the other end of the tunnel, (no not a train); the parent who doesn’t care, who barely even registers her kid has and IEP; the parent who never got her kid help or even cares that they have a kid. You are WAY ahead of the curve my friend, even if you think there is a train waiting for you around the next turn.

        You rock my socks!

        • ProfMomEsq says:

          Holy crap! Thank you times infinity squared. You know comments kick ass when you’re laughing and crying so much you can’t even tell the difference between them anymore. You rock MY socks. If I was super-Internet proficient like some of my other blog peeps, I’d totally give you a fancy comment award. Gold stars ALL OVER your paper!!

  11. corydegregorio says:

    Being a parent is soooo hard. Being a parent of a child with particular needs is a level of parenting that only a sect few understand. My only advice is lame: hang in there. You are doing your best. We all are, right?

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      That’s not lame at all. I know you know my world, and it *is* good advice. You also inspire me to take better care of myself and – in the scheme of things – that *is* taking better care of all the people I love. (((((you))))

  12. […] neither does Helene’s just because it’s sometimes more frustrating than someone else’s life. Remember me? […]

  13. C says:

    Hi, this post is the first of your blog that I’ve read. Firstly, excellent writing and great, funny drawings too.
    Secondly, most of your, and Helene’s, stress seems to be coming from the schooling; can anything be done about this? I was home schooled, so it was difficult for me to send my 4 year old to school but it seems to be the right thing for him. He has transitioned brilliantly from Montessori to the very-lucky-to-have-it autism unit in the local school; he loves going there every day. Sounds to me (or actually looks, cos I read your blog!) like there is something amiss with the schooling situation.
    Wishing you and your family all the best for the future.

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      C: Thank you so much for the compliments. I’ve recently graduated from stick figures, so I thought I’d show off a little. 😉

      Yes, a lot of Helene’s stress (and mine) comes from her anxiety about school. She is in an autism-specific, self-contained classroom with a very committed and qualified teacher and support staff who have been with this teacher quite a while. All things considered, it’s an outstanding structure. But, Helene started really battling us about school after her teacher was unexpectedly absent for an extended period. It may be a coincidence; maybe not. But, we’ve had a hard time working our way back from it. I have to say that after a bumpy start, Helene’s IEP team has been pretty great and very supportive. We’re working on some new therapies (music, for one) and hopefully the Hubs and I will start ABA therapy training ourselves for at-home use. I still have some reservations about whether ABA therapy models help or hinder Helene, but I’m reserving final judgment on that until we really start implementing them consistently at home.

      Thanks for stopping by and the well wishes. Hope to see you again!

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