This morning I had a choice between being prompt or preserving my son’s sanity. Obviously, I chose the latter. I just wish I’d done it before I made him go out to the car. I just wish I’d done it before he threw himself onto our driveway in protest. I just wish I’d done it before I had to scoop him off the ground and put him in the car seat myself. I just wish I’d done it before starting the engine and backing us out of the driveway, but I didn’t.
When I snapped out of my mommy trance and made the choice to save us, we were sitting in the middle of the cul-de-sac with the motor running and school had already started. Across the street my neighbor looked at us and I think he must have wondered why we didn’t move for a good three minutes. I didn’t bother to explain that I had paused for my brain to explode. I just pulled back into the driveway and sat there a while too.
By then my son was also confused. I turned to him and explained that I would let him go back inside and play his computer game through to the end and then we would leave for school. His expression turned from inconsolable anger to relief and then glee. He opened his door and did his little beaming happy walk back into the house. He plopped in front of the computer and picked right up where he left off. In fifteen minutes, when the time came to go, he was ready and we went. Just like that.
My son needs to finish things. He needs to close the loops and zip the zippers. He needs to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and end the beginnings. And he needs to get through level three on his pbskids games. If you try to get him away from that before he’s finished he won’t make it to the next activity with all of his brain functioning. He gets stuck. He is so consumed with finishing whatever he was doing that he can’t move on to a new task. Transitions kill our days. We are late a lot and sometimes we don’t even go wherever it is we are supposed to go, because he isn’t finished.
This morning we were 40 minutes late, so we had to stop in the office for an admission slip. We had to walk through a quiet campus and into a bustling classroom. We interrupted the flow of the day for the teacher, the aides and the other kids. I hate doing that. I hate being that mother, but what was I to do? I tried to be quick. I hugged him goodbye, got him to really look at me and then I walked away and as always, I was a little bit teary. Rough morning.
I know better than to obsess about him all day. Unless they call me to come and pick him up early, there’s really nothing I can do. And usually, as today, he makes it through just fine and seems happy to see me when the day is done. Unfortunately, there are long hours when I forget all that and I stumble through my routine a little bit distracted and feeling kind of crazy. People ask me simple questions and I can’t think of answers or I give answers that make no sense or that I don’t even mean. And I do odd things, things I wouldn’t do if I weren’t a fog-brained autism mom.
Today I went grocery shopping without my list or coupons. That’s bad enough, but then I couldn’t figure out what to do in the store. I walked up and down every aisle at least twice. I remembered to buy chips and the cheese dip my husband likes, but I didn’t think to get toilet paper or cat food. Milk was an afterthought and actually caused me to take some of my items back from the conveyor belt, get out of line and run down an aisle to get it. Why was I running?
On the way back to check out I accepted a sample of pumpkin frapuccino from the in-store Starbucks employee. It was good and for a split second it even pulled me from my stupor. I managed to stir in the whipped cream and drink most of it, but then I put the little cup in my purse. Why did I do that? The remains of the drink poured all over my wallet and keys and sunglasses. I stood next to a shelf full of light bulbs to clean it up with a baby wipe. Did I need light bulbs? By the time I finished cleaning out the mess I had forgotten that I was done shopping. I started meandering down the back of the store again and halfway through I remembered I could go.
That’s how my brain works, or doesn’t. I can’t move on to my next task either, not when my kid is upset and we’ve turned our morning upside down to right him. It sucks. He’s the best little boy ever. Even when we have to reprimand him sharply for doing something he knows better than to do (hitting, throwing toys, etc.) he generally just smiles and continues making his little boy noises and dancing his little autism fingers in front of his face. He has the most elegant, lovely little fingers and the sweetest disposition. He holds no grudge and never seems to notice when we grow horns or big hairy warts. As long as he gets to finish, he’s fine. Simple. Sweet. I wish I were more like that.