When you cap off your night with two glasses of Merlot and a bunch or raw chocolate chip cookie dough, chances are the day has been rough.
Autism. Really. Sucks.
And my rose-tinted glasses are frequently cracked.
Some days, they simply cannot be found. And I don't even bother to look that hard.
Why did autism suck today, you might ask????
Well, there were the typical, every-day reasons. My non-verbal, six-year-old son screamed in frustration about something that still is a mystery to me. He carried out his current stim with just as much intensity as he did the day before. I literally had to sit on him in order to cut his toenails.
And, for some reason, for the first time in, well, a long time, he pooped in his pants.
His swimsuit, to be exact.
At a city pool.
Thank GOODNESS (I won't say "God" because I am not in the mood to bring God into any of this), he was OUT OF THE POOL. And I noticed it as soon as it happened./
But when the "bright side" of things is that you didn't have to tell a life guard to clear the pool on account of your six-year-old's poop ...... well, is there REALLY much of a bright side?
Oh, and let me not forget, I was at that city pool with my autistic son, and my four-year-old daughter, and well, NOBODY.
My son has done great taking himself to the potty at home since we really hit the potty-training business just after his fourth birthday. And I am so glad. But, STILL, STILL, I can't count on him to communicate the need to go when we are out in public.
And the kid is a pee fountain.
I take him to pee more frequently than a chain-smoker lights up.
We had been doing so well with not having accidents, until recently ....
And when the accidents start, they seem to come in big numbers.
But, REALLY, POOP???? And at a pool????
I am Ms. Automatic-pilot when there is such a situation. I am not good at many things, but if there is an autistic child with a poop crisis in public, I am your girl.
So, when I saw the face, and confirmed the existence of a wet, messy poop, I just went into action.
I took both kids to the bathroom immediately and got my son to the potty where he finished his business. I checked out the swimsuit and realized it was NOT worth saving. Good-bye new swim trunks. I cleaned up his messy bottom and took him straight to the shower, where I scrubbed the both of us down with soap as if we were about to perform surgery. I went back to the bathroom stall and cleaned up the toilet. And, because all of the spare clothes for my son were in the car a good distance away, I let him wear my tee-shirt. (I had my swimsuit on, people, so don't get any ideas).
It was all a pain. A great big pain. Shouldn't we be well past this?
I certainly let my son know just how unhappy I was with the circumstances. He wasn't very happy either, my poor boy.
It makes me frustrated.
And it makes me sad.
Sad for me, because, yes, I sometimes allow myself a bit of self-pity. I had no idea this would be what I was in for when I first learned I was pregnant.
Sad for my son, because, after all, he deserves the most sympathy. He is the one who struggles to understand this world, and without the benefit of ANY language.
And sad for my daughter, who sat through this whole ordeal on a bench in the bathroom by herself.
She is plenty old enough to understand that her brother should not be having these problems.
She is sophisticated enough to realize that her mother is S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D. And, that, in turn, brings stress to her life. She actually worries about me. My four-year-old daughter worries about me.
Oh, lord, just pile it on.
I am so very, very sad for my daughter because there are many moments in her life, just like this one today, where she sits or stands alone, waiting .... just waiting.
Waiting for me to tend to her brother's problem, need or outburst.
Waiting for me to prompt whatever form of communication I can get from him, even if it is just eye-contact, a nod of the head and a "yeah."
Waiting for me to finish working with him -- because I feel so much guilt if I don't spend at least some time trying to help him accomplish something, even if it is as simple as focusing on a puzzle.
It simply is not fair. There should be someone else on the scene. Someone focusing on her. Or sharing the responsibility of focusing on her brother so that I can sometimes get to focus on her.
Oh, how I would love to just focus on her.
But, even when I get a moment to do so, I am so tired.
So very, very tired.
I am not what my kids deserve.
Either one of them.
And I just don't know if I ever will be.
I have my doubts.
But, man, can I clean up the poop in a crisis.
Is there a career in that, by the way, because I sure could use a job.
Leah is a single mom of two children, one who has autism and is non-verbal. She writes at fruity pebbles for dinner.