Remembering to Relax

I’m a hardass.  I admit it.  Like so many autism parents, since G’s diagnosis I’ve taken it upon myself to teach him the skills I think he’ll need to live the life of his choosing.  I never miss an opportunity to teach social skills or independent living skills.  I’m constantly thinking years into the future to identify potential issues and to break those issues into small steps that I can begin to teach right now.  I’m also the parent who disciplines the most.  DH tends to be the fun, game playing, friend-parent while I tend to be the parent who makes and upholds the rules.  In general, it works for us.  But sometimes, I need to be reminded to relax and have fun with my son.

DH was sitting out of sight in the dining room with his laptop when G wandered through the house asking me to help him find dad.  I agreed to help but also asked if there was anything I could do for him.  He said no, he wanted to ask dad to play with him.  I replied that I could play a game with him too.  Then he said, “No thanks.  I want to play with dad because he likes me more.”  Shocked, I asked what made him think that.  He said, “He doesn’t yell at me as much.”  (just a note, part of G’s autism is to exaggerate to the extreme.  Anyone who corrects G in any way is ‘yelling’ at him.)

It sent me into an emotional tailspin.  I began analyzing every interaction with G, second and third guessing every time I felt I needed to remind him of the rules or correct him.  It was not a fun week for me, I felt like I was the mother from hell and was emotionally traumatizing my child.

Today is the first day of the state assessment testing for third graders.  It’s no big deal to us, so while they’ve been practicing in class, we haven’t addressed it at home at all.  Still, G was very anxious about it last night.  After going to bed, he came out and asked me if I felt stressed.  I said no but realizing he was trying to tell me something, I asked if he felt stressed.  He replied, “Yes, I am very, very stressed.”  How fantastic that he was able to express a complex emotion!! 

I offered to rub his back to help him fall asleep and followed him back to his room.  I sat there for maybe 5 minutes, rubbing slowly and was able to feel the tension easing from his body when he sleepily said, “Sometimes, you’re a little mean.  But sometimes, you’re a little nice too.”  I held in my tears until I left his room.

I think overall I’m basically on the right track and am doing a good job.  But I’m constantly looking to the future and am trying not to miss a teachable moment.  Even when I’m playing with G, I’m focused on taking turns, being a good winner or loser, etc.  The lesson I’ve learned is to remember to live in the present and enjoy the moment right in front of me.  I think it is so common for autism parents to worry about therapy, social skills, the future in general, that we forget to simply enjoy our kids.  It’s something I’ll be sure to do as we move forward.

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. When my wife was the stay-at-home parent, the boys always complained about and to her. They literally came dancing out to the car when I arrived home from work. Now she works full-time, and I am home full-time, and they see her as Santa Claus and me as leftover oatmeal.

  2. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. Sometimes it is good to ignore every teachable moment and just play. Children need to see that that is okay. So, spill some juice on the floor and dance with G in your bare feet in the middle of the puddle. Throw a mudpie. Eat a cookie before dinner. You get the idea.

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