Just a warning that the next two posts I'm working on are going to be leaning a bit more toward the "rant" side of things. If you're not into that right now, please feel free to skip. I'll also try to get to a Weekly Recap this weekend if I can, which won't be so rant-filled.
On Wednesday evening, I picked Reece up from church. My husband usually takes her and brings her home since he is there anyway for the evening service and praise band rehearsal. I had been going with them back before Christmas, but it has turned into a 2 hour respite for me. Riley is at dance company rehearsal, Austin is at church as well... thus giving me 2 quiet hours in my home alone. Yeah, I spend the time cleaning and watching a chick flick, but it's 2 hours in my home. Alone. Homeschool moms understand why that's important. But this week, rehearsal was going to run long because of Easter preparations, so I picked Reece up on my way to get Riley from dance company rehearsal. We are finding that about 2 hours of dynamic social interaction in the late evening is about all she can manage without a meltdown, and we're trying hard to avoid the meltdowns.
The group was coming in from outside (lovely weather here lately in Georgia), and she was crying. I took her quickly to the car, and tried to ascertain what was the cause of this vexation. It soon became apparent that it was the change of plans/change of routine that had thrown her off. She was saying it was because she didn't get a turn, but when she explained further, it seemed that the turn-taking was not actually part of what was happening. It was just the unexpected turn of events that had her upset. And, as most meltdowns lately, it started morphing. I put on my calm face and tried to steer her out of it.
She moved onto the next thing that had her upset: "The Fifth Grade Writing Test". This is a big deal in our state, and apparently lots of public school kids are talking about it. I think it was last week or the week before. She was upset that she didn't know why it was so important. Then she was upset that she doesn't have to take it. Then she was upset that homeschoolers don't learn as much as public schoolers.
I'm keeping the calm face/calm voice thing going. This was one of the best things I learned in RDI, but one of the hardest. It seems to work so well when I can manage it... and we were nearly to the end of the meltdown and she was coming around.
Then she started talking about autism. She asked me if I cried when I learned that she had "high-functioning autism". I don't use that term so I don't know where she heard it, but anyway, I told her, "Nope, I sure didn't." (Liar, liar, pants on fire.... Oh, well!). I went on to tell her that she wasn't always so high-functioning, but through her hard work and lots of therapy, she has become high-functioning and she should be proud of herself.
Her eyes lit up and she got SO excited. "Is there a therapy that will make me a 'normal girl', Mama??" I didn't know what to say. I just said, "Well, no," and her whole body just crumbled into the seat. She was so sad. And I was so sad. I told her what we always tell her, "God made you just the way you are - autism and and all. He has a plan for your life! A plan for good and not for disaster." She said, "Yes, I know. But it doesn't help."
She's right, you know. It doesn't help. I mean, it does. But it doesn't. It helps because we do have hope and we trust that God - who loves my children more than I ever possibly could - does have a plan for their lives and that we will see it unfold in time. But it doesn't help in the moment. When my girl just wants to be like everyone else. When she doesn't have to work so darn hard all day long just to BE in this world!
And here's where the rant comes in for a moment. I see you. I see you roll your eyes at her and I see the looks you give me. She's not a brat. She's not spoiled (well, her Nana spoils her with toys and Disney trips, but that's a Nana's prerogative - she's not spoiled in her heart towards other people). She doesn't need a "good spanking". She doesn't need to "just go to school" - because in case you haven't noticed, there are autistic kids who have gone to school since they were toddlers and they are still autistic! But just know that you don't fool me. I won't say anything to you for a number of reasons, but don't think you're getting anything by on me. I'm not stupid, and I've been doing this special-needs/autism mama thing for a very long time. You're really missing out if you don't care to try to appreciate Reece for who she is, because she's an awesome kid! Yes, I know she cries a lot. Do you have any idea how hard she has to work to keep it together?! She doesn't cry because she's spoiled. She cries because she's overwhelmed and probably a bit confused, and then she's crying more because she's embarrassed. Because she just wants to be a 'normal girl'. Like yours.
Ok, rant over. For now. It felt good to get that out! :)
My heart has been raw since Wednesday night. I want to fix everything for her. I wish she could understand how far she has come! Last Saturday, we spent the WHOLE DAY out and about. We spent about 3 hours at a baseball stadium for Fan Fest where she ran around and played. And then we spent another 4-5 hours over at a friend's house, which is something we haven't done in YEARS because she simply couldn't handle it then! Not a meltdown all day (though it appeared there might be one when we first got to the ball field and she couldn't throw and catch as well as she expected herself to be able to do). There are things that we simply stopped doing as a family because she couldn't handle it that we could probably do now if we wanted to! But she doesn't realize that. She just realizes that she's not a "normal girl" in her own eyes. You know, it might have been easier on my heart back when she didn't know that she was any different.
Please God, help her to feel good about herself and about the person You have made her to be. Help me to guide her to see herself through Your eyes.