Thursday, January 16, 2014

Autism Answer: Today, I Let His Dad Do It

This morning I gave up and got out of the way.

My sons have a hard time getting back into the swing of a school schedule after holidays, as do I. It's so tempting to hide away from the world and just be with each other, surrounded by people who get you, love you, are excited by your accomplishments and supportive through your missteps. 

Most of the time I'll let my kids skip one of the first days back, and that's enough to give them a feeling of control which leads to a bit of confidence. However, my youngest son is not figuring it out so easily this time.

So, I supported him a few days ago when he felt he needed one more day at home. But then this morning, he woke up around 4AM filled with stress and fear about school. I tried to take away his desperation by putting on my "It's not gonna happen kiddo" face, using a strong voice when I told him he WAS going to school today. This almost always works because he doesn't feel like he can change my mind, so he gets busy talking himself into having a good day. And then, he has a good day!

But this morning, he had a meltdown. I tried to get him to tell me what was up. I tried to learn the true issue. A kid at school being mean? A teacher with unreasonable expectations? My son, and his unreasonable expectations for himself? But, he wasn't opening up. Just crying, talking at me to himself, and spiraling in the tornado of his confused emotions. 

So, I gave up. I dropped his brother off (who then called me from a friend's phone to ask how his brother was. Love it!) picked my husband up from work, and said, "You help him."

Okay. I don't ever do that, and I don't know why. I mean... it was beautiful!!! My husband helped my son identify the issue (a mixture of his own unreasonable expectations and an unrequited romance) and then offered some much needed sound-bites. "We've never pressured you for perfect report cards because we know that the work you do comes from you. And we don't ever want you to try and be more than yourself." and "Don't love someone else more than you love yourself. If you let your world come crashing because she doesn't love you, that means your putting her above you. Don't."

There were more. My point is that my son needed to hear all of these things, but he needed to hear them from someone other than me. My husband talks to the kids, but I'm the one they most often come to and have real conversations with. Partly because I'm easier to understand (my hubby has a strong accent and an erratic conversational style) but mostly because I've orchestrated it that way. I've always kind of taken over when it comes to messages of the heart and soul.

That was a mistake!

My son ended up going to school, and he looked rather relaxed when I walked in with him. Together, with his dad and I, we came up with a plan of action to help him meet his own expectations and feel comfortable socially. 

I've been saying so often to him lately, "Sweetie, you don't need to put so much pressure and emphasis on your results. Focus a little more on the joy of doing."

I think now, after the chat he had with his dad, he might begin to do that. 

This morning's meltdown might just change his life, and his dad's life. 

And all I had to do was get out of the way.

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)