Little Ella offers up her fair share of worrisome things: she's very tall for her age, which is probably why she's so clumsy. She hurts herself at least 3 times a day. Today, for instance, while we were waiting for Jack to come out after school, she ran down a small snow hill, kept on goin' and wiped out somewhere along the way. Other parents must think I'm a jerk, because I'm extremely blasé when this kind of stuff happens. It's not that I'm uncaring, but honestly, it happens so often, it stopped being a surprise a long, long time ago.
Also, she's very sensitive. If I'm too grouchy (say, from her asking noone in particular the other day; "why is my mom such an IDIOT?"), then she really takes it to heart, and probably she'll cry. She'll also cry if I make her put snow pants on. She'll cry when it's time to brush her teeth. She cries if I'm going out shopping to ESCAPE for a little bit. She cried when I got an angry look on my face when I discovered her sitting naked on the couch this afternoon (no anuses on the couch, kids. Sorry, but you have to draw the germ line SOMEWHERE). So, while she's a little wearying, I do feel sorry for her. I was a super sensitive kid and wanted to cry A LOT of the time too.
Jack, however, takes THE PRIZE for causing me anguish. He wins--hands down. His eating is TERRIBLE. When he gets a cold, he eats even less, and he gets a lot of colds. He's the kid who would get the SUPER DUPER fever when he'd be sick, and had so many secondary infections I am now familiar with pretty much every antibiotic they give kids. Azithromycin, amoxicillin--yeah, been there, done that. Who got the 104 degree fever, and a trip to the emergency room? Jack. Who vomited every ten minutes for 17 hours straight and earned a trip to the emergency room? Jack. Ugh. Let's not talk about it.
Jack also has very high anxiety. He doesn't like changes in his routine. He doesn't deal well with new things at school, or new classrooms, etc. He's very sensitive to noise, and has to leave the room while the teacher puts a tape in the VCR, lest the thing make some sort of buzzing noise. He was afraid to go to school for DAYS after they had done some practice fire drills. If a classmate invites him to his birthday party, Jack is nearly ill about it until it finally arrives. Probably all these things are not uncommon for a kid on the Autism spectrum. We deal with the tantrums, the over-the-top reactions to things, the FLIPPING OUT. There have been plenty of hard days.
But, Wednesday of this week was a wonderful day. Jack's school was putting on a spring concert about "Peace." Each class sang a song to raise awareness about how we can all bring peace to our world. There was a little lame, but charming acting in between songs, and all in all it was highly entertaining. Normally Jack would be flipping out about having to perform in front of an audience FOR DAYS. For some reason, this time he was not worried. He wasn't grouchy beforehand, he wasn't nervous, and he didn't obsess over it. I went to both the afternoon and evening performances, and he was so, so cute singing along with his class that I really had to fight back the tears, so as not to be that embarrassing mom. Ater the evening performance, the little ham even BOWED. It was wonderful.
One of the most amazing things though occurred at dinner. We ordered a pizza, due to the power being out all day. Jack was interested in the pizza. He casually said; "I'll try some pizza." HE ATE TWO PIECES OF PIZZA. He has NOT eaten pizza in over A YEAR. Yeah, we had to scrape all the toppings off, so it was basically just a slice of saucy dough, but he ate it. I acted CASUALLY pleased about it, but honestly my friends--I WANTED TO FAINT.
Then we went to the concert, and my daughter, who has been wearing summer clothes all winter, voluntarily put on a long sleeve shirt.
What--was it my birthday?!?
So that was a good day. I went to bed feeling proud and happy, with that warm feeling of thankfulness glowing inside.
And then there was today. Jack has always had one tic or another that we have to get accustomed to. These things often come from colds or other illnesses he has. For instance, if he had a sore throat he may have developed a tic whereby he opens his mouth really wide, over and over again, right in the middle of whatever else he's doing. Or, when he walks to school his snowpants drive him crazy, so every few steps he kicks the back of his leg to fix his bunchy pants. Then he simply develops a habit of doing this. In the past, when he's felt a great deal of anxiety, he would lick his fists, and then rub his nose. Compulsively.
Today took the cake. He was so anxious and so keyed up and I could not calm him down. I don't know if it's because March Break starts next week, and he feels slightly uneasy about the change in routine. I don't know if it's because we've been doing TIME OUTS with rock-solid regularity (you can read about our recent 1st visit with the BEHAVIOURAL LADY HERE) , and now he's much more aware of how bad we think saying "I hate you" to anyone in our family is, or calling someone "stupid." It could be that one of the assisants who works with Jack at school has started a "good news journal," in which we write about the things Jack has done both at school and at home to be good, kind, and combat his inner demons. He could be exhausted from "keeping it together" for so many hours each week. He could be bothered by that kid he's obsessed with in his class: that kid who is interesting because he's a bit of an ill-behaved kid, and who likes to push Jack's buttons for fun.
When I asked him what was making him nervous he said "Primavera." Jack has a lot of music in his head all the time, and that classical music piece by Vivaldi has always been a source of fear/fascination for him. Why? You ask? Well, I touch upon that HERE, if you're interested. His tics were horrible. He kept stretching his neck out, and pulling his arms down, as you would if you were stretching a shirt down straight. He was making strained facial expressions, and even labouring to swallow at times. I let him come sit downstairs with The Man and I, because clearly he wasn't able to fall asleep. He kept jerking, and twitching. Finally, he was exhausted and voluntarily went back up to bed, but wanted me by his side. He jerked, and twitched, and made crazy faces, and his legs kept moving restlessly around. I kept trying to keep the same calm, reassuring smile on my face, as I rubbed his legs, and tried to pile a heavy blanket on him to help him feel secure.
Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I went downstairs and lamented this to The Man, who was playing video games. Why are men so much more casual about these things?!? So, he went upstairs to lie down with Jack. When I checked on them a little while later, they were both lying side by side, both snoring, holding hands.
I went into the bathroom and wept.
If only the little people never had to suffer.
If only I knew what the hell was the matter.