Because Sometimes I Hide in the Bathroom

20 07 2011

I believe certain women are born nurturers—something within them is programmed to mother every child who enters their home. These are the women whose homes become the neighborhood hub; children and teenagers enter and exit in a never-ending stream. Snacks are distributed. Commercials are filmed.

Or something.

I am not one of these women. I never particularly enjoyed babysitting or holding babies, and as I matured I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have children of my own.

Please don’t interpret this as me saying I’m a craptastic mother. In my moments of stunning clarity, I can tell you I’m a great mom. Not only are my children fed and clothed, but (far more importantly) they know they are loved. They’re disobedient and I get angry at them and they get angry at me and still they know that mom loves them. I believe that’s knowledge which will stay with them and serve them well in life.

This is, rather, a post about my inevitable craptastic mom moments—every woman has them—and how they undermine my confidence in my mothering skills when I already feel like I started at a disadvantage.

Can you tell it was a rough day in the Smith home?

The boys and I were playing a game on the computer, and they started wrestling. I asked them to stop, but really, who listens to mom? Mom is a killjoy. Mom’s sole purpose is to suck the joy out of the lives of small children everywhere. So I very calmly (because I’m mature and stuff) closed the laptop and put it away.

I had no idea this would magically morph me into one of the horsemen of the apocalypse, but apparently that’s what happened, judging from the Level V Meltdown Big G launched into. He screamed, he cried, he thrashed and flailed. “I wanted to play games!” And then he hit me.

It was an accident, so I let it go with a warning. “Hit me again and you’ll go to your room.” He turned his tear-stained face to me and wailed, “I want to play gaaaames!

“I know, but you’ve lost that privilege. I’m sorry.”

“Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!” He reached out and whacked me.

I picked him up and hauled him back to his room, but here’s the problem with kids: they don’t do what you tell them to do. Like, ever. And I’d just had it. My fists were clenched and I’d hit that moment where I realize that even though I’ll never do it, I kind of get how people lose their tempers and hit their kids.

I hate that moment. If you have kids and haven’t had that moment thus far, kudos to you.

“You have two choices: you can stay in your room for some time away from mom, or you can go in the living room and watch TV and mom will spend time in her room away from you. I don’t care what you pick. It just needs to be away from mom.”

“But mom, I just want to be with you!”

“You keep hitting me. I don’t like that and I don’t want to be with you right now.

So I tried hiding under my covers and pretending I didn’t have children. Shut up. I didn’t say it was my best idea or my finest moment. Oddly enough, it didn’t work, and when everything was said and done, you can probably guess from the title of this post how all of this ended.

That’s right. I went in the bathroom, turned on the fan, and locked the door. I felt like a failure—not just as a mother, either. I’d pretty much failed as a human being.

I’d like to tell you there was a great resolution to all of this, but life is never that simple. When I finally emerged from the bathroom there was more yelling, and by the time Car got home I handed the boys to him and finally got my chance to hide under the covers.

But here’s the awesome thing about raising kids who know they’re loved: at the end of the day, Big G gave me a big hug and a kiss. He told me he loved me. All the ugliness from earlier today vanished from his memory, and he felt secure in the knowledge that mom loves him no matter what.

Sometimes I hide in the bathroom, but really? I’m a pretty fantastic mother.





But the Dutch People Keep Yelling at Me

12 04 2011

Most of my regular readers know I strongly suspect Big G has Asperger’s Syndrome. We have no formal diagnosis, because such things cost money. Lots and lots of money. Still, my gut tells me that my fantastic little boy falls somewhere on the very high-functioning end of the autism spectrum.

As you poke around the internet searching for information about Asperger’s and related issues, you often come across an analogy written by Emily Perl Kingsley called “Welcome to Holland.” As I don’t have permission to reproduce the entire essay here, I’ll sum it up: you’ve planned a trip to Italy. You get on the plane, but when the plane lands, the stewardess says “Welcome to Holland.” At that point you can whine and mope and focus on the fact that you were supposed to be in Italy, or you can embrace the beauty of Holland and enjoy your stay.

Now, I’m not saying this isn’t an appropriate metaphor for raising a special-needs child. I’m sure this story has provided comfort and understanding to many people. Still, there are some issues here that invite discussion (bearing in mind that I’m still at the very beginning of my trip to Holland, as it were).

Holland may have windmills, tulips, and Rembrandts, but the Dutch people keep yelling at you. Imagine strolling through the Rijksmuseum, absorbing the breathtaking genius of one of Europe’s greatest painters. You pause at The Night Watch:

Suddenly, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Somebody jumps out and starts yelling at you for no apparent reason. The moment is lost. Yes, Holland is lovely, but at the same time, profoundly unsettling.

Though you’ve managed to be lucky enough to land during the two month time period the world-famous gardens are open, your trip to Keukenhof

is spoiled by a rare downpour.

And that boat tour around Kinderdijk?

Yeah. Your boat sprung a leak and you spent the day in damp jeans and water-logged sneakers.

You get what I’m saying here, yes? It’s not that Holland isn’t a wonderful country or that your visit isn’t full of wonders galore—it’s just that everything is just a little bit, well…off. Even if you have a day filled with perfect weather, beauty, and peace, you’re still wondering if some sneaky Dutch person is hiding around the corner, waiting to yell at you.

This morning we got out of bed and, following our normal morning routine (as routine is very important ’round these parts), I changed Little G’s diaper and asked Big G to use the bathroom and change out of his pull-up and into underwear. Big G dawdled, so by the time he was done I’d already thrown away Little G’s diaper, which meant…dun dun duh…Big G had to throw his own pull-up in the garbage. I know. I’m so unreasonable.

In my imagination, this happens in Italy without a quarrel. Perhaps if an Italian is unhappy about this, he pouts or throws a small fit.

But this is not Italy. This is Holland, and my request (“Please put your pull-up in the garbage.”) is met with a meltdown of epic proportions. There is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. There is screaming. There is flinging of the aforementioned pull-up.

This goes on for twenty minutes, at which point the pull-up nails Little G in the head and, in a fit of desperate motherly inventiveness, I tell Big G he can put his pull-up in the garbage or have a time-out for bopping Little G in the head with it. Big G is not pleased, and he flails more vigorously—pegging me in the process. Now, I tell him, his time-out will be twice as long…or he can simply throw away the pull-up. He storms into the kitchen and throws away the offending object, stomps back into the living room, and then curls into a ball on the couch, pouting like a champ.

In Holland, this is not a bad morning. This is average, and I can deal with it.

There are moments of breathtaking beauty in Holland—I never want you to think otherwise. Big G is a funny, brilliant boy and I thank God every day that he’s my boy—but around every corner looms the specter of Italy; the knowledge that in an alternate reality, perhaps I wouldn’t have the random wooden clog chucked at my head.

Oh, Holland. Every day you break my heart. Where’s the travel agent who can sell me a ticket out of here?





Let It Begin

21 02 2011

Sometimes I get broadsided by things that, in retrospect, are painfully predictable.

On Saturday I had a conversation with a customer about the pediatric neurologist her daughter is seeing. Big G saw the same neurologist, and I made a brief comment about how impressed I was by this doctor. Of course, the customer wanted to know why he’d seen a neurologist.

I briefly explained his motor tics, and went on to tell her I feel it’s likely Big G has Asperger’s Syndrome and the tics are symptomatic of that.

“What’s Asperger’s?” she asked.

“High-functioning autism,” I said.

And here’s where we all step back and wonder that I didn’t see this question coming from a mile away:

“Did you have him vaccinated?”

Dude.

If I have a kid with autism of any sort and I, for some ridiculous, grasping, misguided reason decide that it’s because of vaccinations, whatever. I suppose that’s my crazy, irrational business. But unless I come to you and tell you that the medical profession has royally screwed my child over and Thimerosal has ruined our lives? You just back away. I don’t care what you believe about it. This is not your child, and this is not your life.

Of course, being the person I am, I had to throw out, “You know, most of the authors of the original study linking autism to vaccinations have retracted their work,” but we all know that makes no difference with most zealots.

I guess the good news is now I’m kind of prepared, right? This was a nice, low-stress way for me to realize (on a very small scale, I’m sure) what the future has in store.

Go ahead, world. Bring it. Yesterday my kid pooped on the carpet and peed on the Wii balance board. (Or, as said by the lovely @guiltysquid, Wii-wee’d! HA!) I’m pretty sure I can handle just about anything right now.