The other day I read a post titled “Top Five Reasons You Should Never Piss Off an Autism Mom” and was reminded of my introduction into the life of a mother with a rambunctious child. (Wait, before someone gets their panties in a wad, I do not think that autistic children are simply rambunctious.) I used to be the one in the store that would walk past a parent standing over their screaming child and think “that child needs some discipline.” In my mind, that mother was experiencing the results of her failure to properly discipline her child. And now, the whole store or mall or park has to stomach the screaming, tantrum-throwing child. How dare that parent disrupt my peace. I just wanted them to get a grip on that terror. (That boy needs a whooping!)
I was a single parent of two children and neither of them had better even think about acting out in public and causing me any type of embarrassment. They were taught to walk the straight line and even the slightest stray from sanity could bring down the wrath of Mommy. My friends were amazed at how my children acted and they were always the ones that were welcome with friends and family. Mine were so in tune with what represented good behavior that once when walking past a boy who was yelling at his mother, my daughter commented with sincerety, “he needs a spanking.” She was five.
Then, several years later with an urge to grow my brood, I gave birth to my third child….a precious boy. He is my monster boy. It was at about 10-11 months old that I thought, “this is going to be different.” He was at my nightstand and reaching for something of mine. I decided that he should learn not to touch. So, I tapped his hand and said, “No.”
He pulled back his hand, looked surprised and reached again. I tapped his hand again. He repeated – retreat, surprise, reach. We did this several times and then when I tapped him he paused, looked at me and said, “Ouch” in that “what the hell are you doing tone.” He then reached again. And, I learned two very valuable lessons. 1. Move the object. 2. This one (affectionately called “The Boy”) is going to take a different kind of parenting.
Having him has taught me to re-evaluate my thoughts and try to understand that my perspective is not the only perspective. He is that little boy that screams in the store when he cannot have what he wants. He does not know boundaries and the practiced stare that used to snap my others in line just as quickly as they stepped out, does not work. It is hilarious actually. I continue to try the stare and he stares back. It’s almost as if he is thinking, “A challenge?……Yes, I accept.”
He pushes me to the limits of my patience. I must admit, that is not far. But, now when I see the parent in the store with the screaming kid, if I am not staring in the mirror, I feel both for the child and the parent. I applaud the parent that is able to ignore it, complete their transaction, and leave without having murdered the child.
My son is not autistic but, I so connected with the post by Lisa http://laughingthroughtears.com/2011/10/21/top-five-reasons-you-should-never-piss-off-an-autism-mom/
Next time that parent is carrying her screaming, fighting, tantrum-throwing child hold the door, grab the bag that falls and instead of being impatient and challenging someone who clearly does not need another challenge…give a comforting “I may not know your pain but, I respect it” smile.
- Tantrums Are not Fatal (positiveparentcoach.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: Following Ezra, by Tom Fields-Meyer (susanheim.blogspot.com)