Washing a Toddler’s Hair

¨I want to see the shampoo, Mommy.¨

¨It’s on your head, sweetie, you cannot see it now.¨

¨I could see it if I had a ladder.¨

¨I don’t think even a ladder would help you to see the top of your head, honey.¨

¨If I had a really, really, really big ladder- then I could.¨

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Things I Ought To Remember To Tell The Psychologist

The children’s psychologist has been on vacation in a far away land, for a few weeks. My son said, yesterday, ¨I wish she would come back.¨ I gave him a hug and explained that next Friday we will see her.
When we do, I should tell her these things:
My son has been getting out of bed without screaming about being afraid. I do not know if this is particular to autism or proof that he still has PTSD, but for a few months he would not get out of bed without someone standing in the doorway. He also would not go to the bathroom unless I was standing in that doorway. For a few days now, there has been none of this. Not from his younger brother, either, who was the same about going into empty rooms. But younger brother has PTSD, and I was like that, at his age.

The boys have been resolving their own disagreements mostly without deteriorating into fights. I have been doing far less intervention.

Middle child has been demonstrating more empathy than he has been showing aggression. And, as if that were not a big enough improvement, he has been asking me for help when he is losing control. This means his symptoms have calmed enough that he is learning to recognize his mood swings and HOW TO FIX THEM. Self advocacy, self regulation. I love hearing him tell me that I need to squish him or tickle him.

The county is going to refer oldest son to the same provider that monitors middle child’s medications. Meaning, they want an evaluation done, because he probably needs ADHD meds.

Oldest child forgets things, immediately. Which explains why, when I tell him to go put on his socks, I find him putting Legos together instead. He forgot why he went into his bedroom in the first place. He has been telling me, lately, that he has forgotten something, can I tell him again? Poor kid. Think of all the times I was exasperated at him to do something that I had told him to do a minute before, with him doing something else, and it was not his fault. No wonder he gets grumpy when I ask him to do stuff. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, he just forgot.
Middle child had a superhero dream again. Instead of nightmares involving teeth and being bit, he had a dream about flying and having superpowers. About time. The kid deserves decent sleep and happy dreams.

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Crazymaking Makes Me Crazy

My son falls asleep watching a movie, sleeps through dessert. He wakes up, I ask him if he is ready for dessert, how is he, etc. He does not reply. I ask again. Again, no reply.
I go about my busy business, cleaning and cooking and putting things away. He follows me around, calling me names, and stomping angrily. He talks about me, and spits. He calls me stupid as I put his clothes away.
When he starts beating on the floor I wrap him in a blanket and restrain him (we live in an upstairs apartment, and I can lose my lease if I get complaints). He screams and cries and when he agrees that he is done I let him up.
He screams that he wants his dessert.
I tell him to sit quietly at the table, and ask nicely for it. I remind him that I do not reward children with sweets who are behaving badly.
He sits at the table, and I tend to the things I have in the oven while he screams and cries, because I am waiting for him to be calm and quiet.
My pie has spilled over and burnt the bottom of the oven, from the stomping and beating on the floor.
I hate cleaning ovens. I told the children I had a lot of baking to do this weekend, we are going to functions and need to bring food and I want to get it all done for the coming week, as this past week we had no baked goods for them to eat after dinner. I have been wanting to bake all week, and never had the time. Last week I had nine appointments, after a full workweek, this week just five, and still not enough time to bake until tonight.
I got really mad, seeing the spilled food from the pie I am trying out for the first time. I got angry, with the spillage smoking up the house and making everything smell burnt. I wanted to cook this particular type of pie since last weekend.
I lost it. I told him he should be happy now that he has finally upset me, that I hate this sort of mess and he has no respect, stomping around like he did when I was cleaning and cooking for his benefit.
He is calm enough to ask for his dessert politely, and I give it to him.
He ate his dessert and went to bed and cried. He came to me after fifteen minutes or so and said he wanted to say sorry and I told him sorry is not enough. He needs to tell me what his problem was, to treat me like that when I am taking care of his Pokemon cards and his clothing and his food. He says he does not know.
I tell him to get to bed. I tell him to be quiet and let his siblings sleep, and when he complains that he did not have his gummy vitamins, I tell him we all missed a lot of things this evening due to his bad behaviour (we missed books! too loud!), he tells me to leave him alone.
I look at this pie and I feel sick. I don’t even want to open it up and try it.

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Two Years Out

We are two years out. Two of us on medication, two of us with PTSD. Two of us cured. Two of us remember everything. Two of us do not.
One of us does not know what happened.
Three of us do not recognize the abuser’s face in pictures.
Two years of protection gone.
One more year that he is ordered to stay in the borders of his state by the criminal courts.
One more year before he is free.
Eight more years before he is free to contact us four.
He said ¨Even if it takes me ten years I will kill you, wherever you are.¨
Ten years is what the paper says.

I have to petition the criminal courts to extend the protection at the time of expiration. If there is no attempt at contact I will probably lose. I have to do it without giving my new name, and since it is on a case listing my old name, I think I can.

I should send an update to the shelter staff and the advocate group.

I try to talk about what happened, and instead I end up counting like this.

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Praise

¨Mommy, you are a little bit cool. But I am ten pounds cooler than you.¨ says my middle child- on the way to parkour tag. I bet I never would have got that praise if I did not play it with him. Especially since I outweigh him by a hundred pounds.

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A Clear Vision

When my oldest son was born, he was very fat. He had his own sleep schedule, and would not be coaxed into another until he was three. He was terrified to hear the vacuum. So I had his grandmother take him far away, outside, so I could vacuum. Still, if he heard it from another doorway, another house, he would scream.
He choked on milk. I would despair of him getting enough to eat, not knowing he was the fattest baby on the block. His crying when trying to eat would panic me. I fed him all the time, hoping in frequency to compensate for the short meals.
As a baby he tried to pull his face off, repeatedly. I do not mean that he scratched himself. I mean that he tried to hook his fingers into the skin of his cheeks, pulling down with his fingernails, impervious to the pain, until there were welts running down his face. I kept his hands covered for four months. I let his hands out for a time daily until I had to pull his hands off of his face and cover them back up, and at four months I was afraid it would impede his development so I kept his nails to the quick and restrained him, instead. I kept him within an arm’s reach, or I swaddled him really well. Mittens when outside, as the stroller faced him away from me. Cold made it mandatory, anyway.
I held him all the time, massaged him frequently. He wanted to be rocked nearly continuously, and he got so heavy, so quickly, that at nine months I had to break him of it. He did not show much curiosity for anything besides mouthing objects, until he became mobile.
He was slow to turn over. Slow to sit up. Slow to stay up, quick to injure himself with bumps on the head, always falling.
When he began walking, it was deliberate. Changes in surface depth caused him to walk curbs or dips over and over again, as if teaching himself uneven surfaces.
He did not like strangers. Strange faces made him scream. Yet. He would not look at me, he would not call me mommy until a year after he had started addressing other people by their names.
In the car he lasted exactly an hour and a half outside the home. Then the screaming started and did not stop until we reached our doorway.
He could not switch gears, could not switch focus from one thing to another, without pitching a long fit. He hated being locked up in the few rooms he was allowed into. He wanted to get into everything. I let him empty the dressers over and over again, to keep him calm.
I was in a county that had a visiting nurse program for new mothers. The nurses were so happy with his growth, with the fact that I was always holding him, that they used our home for training nurses in the program for a year. They told me horror stories about the other homes they visited, where babies were kept in car seats, nearly all the time.
I took him to the free developmental screening when he was six months old, where the screener was suspicious of his lack of motivation, asking me ¨Does he reach for things at home?¨ Not really, I told her. She never called me to follow up, as she said she would.
I asked the pediatrician why he was so upset so easily. A phase, she told me. As a toddler I asked the doctor what to do about his violent tendencies towards his brother, whom he attempted to strike whenever there was crying. The doctor pretended not to hear me. I asked again. He said ¨Well, since there is nothing else..¨ and walked out the door.

Why did none of these professionals recognize his autism and auditory dysfunction? Was it about our state subsidized insurance? Was it our minority status? Was it because I spoke quietly? What clouded their vision?

I worked through it, anyway. We were connected. I could tell by his behaviour when he was at his limit, and I knew how to calm him. His symptoms got worse before they got better, and now he is much improved. I haven’t stopped, though. I am still trying to make it easier for him.

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Math Class

Today the school taught my son how to count by tens.

So he forgot how to count by fives.

He also cannot count by ones any longer. I tried with him, for a long time tonight. He has forgotten completely, only tens come out, even on his fingers. He felt badly enough to start goofing off.

I wrote a note to his teacher instead of losing my cool. He is going to have enough trouble, I need to be his cheerleader and not his taskmaster. I can make him do his homework, but I cannot magically make him understand it.

No wonder he would rather read a book. So would I!

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