Sunday morning in the wee hours, we heard the dogs stir. Yes, they're so used to it that they just stir. Then there was the smell. If you've only experienced the drive-by version, allow me to enlighten you. It's like having rotten, nasty, raw onion shoved up your nose and down your throat. You can taste it. Heck, you can chew it. Bleh.
This wasn't a run-of-the-mill Sunday at the Senzig house. Our membership class was being presented to the church today. In other words, I wouldn't be hiding at the back of the church with my jeans and comfy sweater. I really needed to at least wear a skirt (haha... there go my expectations again... never mind that I probably look better in pants and no one would have batted an eye) and guess where all my "real clothes" are? That's right. In my closet. When I opened the door, I found where the skunk was under the house. Right again! You're so smart.
The smell was so awful that I couldn't bear to stand there and pick out my clothes. I got a stand fan and aimed it in the closet to hopefully thin out the reaking half-life, and jumped in the shower.
Eventually I did find clothes and we made it to church just fine. I even asked a friend if we smelled like our striped friend, and mercifully we didn't. And oh, am I proud of Ryan! He made it through the whole thing. He rode on my back and didn't even bat an eye at having to stand on stage for a few minutes. He didn't jump off my back and into the open grand piano, either! His therapist was there, and I betcha she was as proud as we all were.
You know what's funny about the whole skunk thing? Ryan doesn't notice. He is a sensory seeker in some things, and is sensory avoiding in others. He loves bright lights, and even with the light sensitivity with glaucoma, he'll stick his nose on a headlight of the van with them on. He loves joint compressions, and has been known to get an ice cream headache on purpose! On the other end, he hates the feeling of hair falling in a haircut, will hold his ears as you squeeze a catsup bottle, can't stand the sound of the washer, dishwasher, or any little humming sound. We've recently tried drowning out some of the noises he can't stand by putting cotton in his ears, simply because it's hard to run a household when you can't use certain appliances when the oldest is in the house. We can, but it's upsetting to him... I mean, shaking, crying, ear-holding upsetting. Yesterday I ran the washer in another blasted fit of normalcy. Towels need washing. I'll wash them. Ryan didn't have to be in the kitchen, and I didn't hear him complain, so I just did it.
I honestly didn't give it another thought until we were picking up toys to get ready for bedtime stories. Richie volunteered to pick up the cotton balls. Immediately I started to blow this off, thinking that he must have mistaken that for something else. My husband heard me question it and explained. Apparently Ryan went to the bathroom, found the cotton balls, and was attempting to shove some in his ears.
I felt bad for running the stupid washer. My heart sank. I'd caused Ryan frustration and discomfort again without even knowing it. I'm his mother, for crying out loud. I should know. I should be able to at least know that he'll do better with something in his ears and, if I have to run the washer or dishwasher, at least allow him that simple comfort. It's not expensive, and it's easy to come by. It doesn't even take a whole cotton ball. But I missed it.
This is just one example of where we are. I feel like we've merely seen the tip of the iceberg of the things that horrify Ryan on a daily basis. It's like me and small spaces. Ever since I had Maelynn, I can't do small spaces for long at a time. Even snuggle time Saturday morning can get interesting if I have a child on each arm and covers over me. I just HAVE to get up. I can't explain it. But you know what? I can get up. I can move the kids if I have to. If I can't, I can tell my husband and he will do it. I can complain about the smell in the house, and so can Eric. We can and have formulated a plan to deal with it. Ryan, on the other hand, doesn't yet posses the ability to consistently verbally express his issues. So every day, he walks through this world doing the best he can with what he's been given.
At the end of the day, isn't that what we're all doing?
We're working toward greater patience with all of our kids, but Ryan is the one who demands it most. We're trying to better see situations before they happen, if we can, through his eyes. This is why he was on my back. I thought that looking out on the crowd from behind mom would not just be more comfortable, but give him a sort of boundary. You've heard me say over and over that we have to continue living... but we have to live smart. Being presented to the church as new members is incredibly important to us. So rather than do what we would have done sans-autism, which would have meant getting the littles and having them stand with us on the stage, to present our whole family to the congregation, we realized that keeping things normal as possible would be best. So the littles stayed in the nursery, and we did the whole thing with just Ryan. Having him sit with someone else would have been more disturbing, too.
Yet again, this brings me to how God deals with his sheep. He knows. He has seen what we will go through, he walked the path, and gives us what we need when we need it. He knew we would fail, that we couldn't help it no matter how hard we tried, and seeing that, he gave us Christ. He defended us when we needed it most. He rescued us when we had no hope of rescue. In a conversation yesterday, I actually said that I wish I could wrap the sovereignty of God and the hope and peace and comfort I have, courtesy of Christ, in a pretty gift bag and walk around and hand it to everyone on the earth. To everyone who is frustrated, angry, hopeless. To everyone who is lonely. To everyone searching for something... anything... to fill the emptiness. To anyone who has hurt so much they are bitter. To those who have been rejected so often they've shut the doors completely. To all those precious people, all those mangled hearts, I wish I could simply hand them the peace, grace, mercy, and hope of God in Christ.
Since I can't do that, I'll see you here again tomorrow. Same bat-time, same bat-channel. To twenty or a hundred, or even one.
Thanks be to God for cotton balls, the good sense to plan ahead, and the forgiveness of that precious seven year old boy when I don't.