If you're a regular to this lil' corner of cyberspace, you know we are blessed to partake in Baylor University's Autism Resource Center, which provides ABA therapy for a minor fee. We are big Baylor fans anyway, since Eric went there as an undergrad. And well, it's only 50 or so minutes away. Country livin' is pretty sweet, but it takes you away from cool stuff like therapy to a degree. Moving on...
It's no surprise to you regulars also that we spend a lot of time hanging out on campus. Richie, Maelynn and I stay and wait for our big brother to be finished. In that hour we find cool stuff to do, or if it's raining or cold, I bring stuff for the kids to do in the hall. Usually it's pretty quiet up there in the Draper building. For some reason, last Wednesday, there were quite a few folks standing around.
Ryan came bounding out of therapy, and I needed to talk to B, his therapist, for a minute about his session. She's great at sharing how she got him to do things, stuff we can try with him, etc. It's also just nice to talk to someone who totally gets it. Totally. The only problem is that Ryan is quite excited to get to ride the "little elevator" again... never mind that I have to carry his nearly seven year old self on it, with Richie on my front and the stroller in front of him. So for some reason, this particular day, Ryan decided to run down the hall in the opposite direction of where we were, giggling the whole way. After narrowly missing a group of professorial types, he starts drumming on the wall. Then as I ask him to come back, he flops on the floor, starts beating his head and screaming his stimmy words. Not the happy ones. The "I don't want to do what you're saying" ones. Or at least I think that's what it means.
B, being the awesomeness she is, went to retrieve him. Where was I? Trying to keep Richie from running after Ryan. He loves his brother, and everything brother does is cool. Richie generally sticks to my side and behaves. He's not perfect, but who is? But when Ryan enters the picture, all is lost. He is all about being just like brother, screaming and all. He's beginning to understand that he's held to a bit different standard, but in the heat of the moment, his sweet three-year-old heart wants desperately to be like his brother. Ah, adoration. I love that he loves his brother. Just not that he does what his brother does sometimes.
Anyway, I had to let Richie go and help Ryan calm down. Richie got up and walked around the stroller, where Maelynn was being nice and compliant, and climbed up to sit down in the chair beside me. It was then than I looked down and saw it.
No, it couldn't be.
It was. A little, brown rock. And no, it wasn't earth.
Automatically, "Oh, Richie... you didn't... " fell from my lips as I got up to check. Sure enough, there was a nice little gaggle of the rocks on the other side of the stroller. So what do you do? No wipes. I forgot. I had to think of something. If I left them, someone might step on them. So while B kept Ryan and Maelynn, I picked up the poopy pebbles and shuttled them and their maker to the restroom. After practically boiling my hands, I helped Richie on the potty. Let's just say I nearly boiled my hands a couple of times before going back to Ryan.
As Richie and I walked back to the other kids and B, I laughed and said "Dignity? What's that?" followed by "If you ever thought about eating anything off that floor... please reconsider."
It really wasn't the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone. It certainly isn't the worst poop accident ever. And honestly, it's something that could happen to any mom! I know I maybe should be a bit embarrassed at this incident. Initially, I was. Then I was just happy to have a kinda-normal, anyone would get it, regular mom story. No worries about who would say... or be silently considering... that maybe we're just horrible parents who sit and yell at the kids from across the room. Or that we give in to their every whim, and give them whatever they want at the first sign of fussing or tears. Because we don't. It was such a blessing to be able to tell a story about the kids, and embarrassing one at that, and to just be able to tell the part we wanted to tell without attempting to place Autism in a nutshell, in desperate realization that we can only explain the parts of OUR BRAND of Autism that we see... and that no, we don't always know what to do. We are feeling through this too. We get tired of explaining that no, he can't eat with the dishwasher running, and yes, if there is even one fly it will HAVE to be killed. I have no idea why he hates Target, why flies, the washer and the dishwasher send him into shaking hysterics. I cannot explain these things beyond telling you what we see, what we've tried, and how it's worked or failed miserably. I cannot definitively tell you anything about Autism. All I can tell you is what we see. The ways Ryan's life is so hard? I can't even tell you all of those because he can't really tell me. I can tell you, however, that from my perspective, it is excruciating to watch him suffer and to be powerless to do anything but hold him.
But you know what?
I don't have to explain to anyone who has kids why I had to pick up poop off the floor in a public place. Any parent totally gets that.
So I'm a bit behind in sharing it, but last Wednesday and several times since, I've realized that I'm thankful for a normal embarrassing story.
Thanks be to God for my kids, for the sheer amount of exquisite craziness that they bring, and the absolute rapture they inspire as well. And thanks or you, for listening to yet. another. poop. story.