There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps, the heart will never rest...
...shed a little light, o Lord, so that we can see!
Just a little light, o Lord...
Here I sit again, in need of light.
Here I sit, in need of direction. Not purpose, you understand. I have purpose. And not a "why are we here," cosmic, meaning of life direction.
I just need to see the next step.
I need just enough of a glow that I can know how far to stretch in anticipation of a foothold.
Emptying the dryer and folding clothes. Ah, my not favorite but definitely not worst task. We'll save that title for cleaning the inside of car windows. I was enjoying a day of being home and doing just normal mommy things when the phone rang.
I could hear him in the background. To tell the truth, I could barely hear his teacher over his screams.
For the first time all year, Ryan had to be picked up. His teacher exhausted everything she knew to do for him, and the offer for whoever has him always stands... if he's too upset, you're getting too frustrated or he's completely taken over the classroom with noise and meltdown, call me. I'll do whatever you need, from advice to just taking him home. She's called several times to keep us updated, but this time he just needed to go home. We're grateful that she listened, that she knew what he (and she, for that matter) could take.
The whole time I waited for Eric, who was on his lunch break, to bring Ryan home, I had that all-too-familiar feeling of dread mixed with fear. That kind that causes you to brace yourself. I grew up with that gut-level kind of terror, and never thought in a million years that my child would be the one to prompt it. I picked up the trains, made sure the iPad was out of sight, put the dogs outside, and generally did my best to grease his way into the house. Minimized annoyances that could be triggers into a continuation of his meltdown behaviors at home.
From what I could hear and what everyone said, this sounded like a true meltdown. Completely out of control emotional reaction to *something*. The only thing I can think is that he's so distraught that we left Grammy and Grampy's and that life is back to normal that he's frustrated and angry. Without the words to express this, he spins out of control. To clear up a common misconception, verbal does not equal perfect communication skills, and it certainly does not equal nonautistic. It does not equal Asperger's either. No one can understand the complexity of diagnosing someone with an ASD until you've done it or lived through it. We're talking years here, people. Hours of observation, tons of paperwork by everyone involved, and way more waiting than is considered fun. Moving on...
By the time he got home, Ryan was sweaty and tired. He was relatively calm, and he's been relatively calm since. The thing that I can't get over is this feeling that we need to do more. He needs more. We need more help understanding him. We don't know what to do, other than keep him safe. We're certainly not rewarding this behavior. He's not playing iPad or watching movies. He is playing with his brother... well, side by side with his brother. Okay, Richie is playing beside Ryan, who also happens to be stimming on this and that as he pulls random things off the floor. The toybox beside the television is empty; Ryan dumped it because he was bored, and I guess because he enjoys the feeling or sound of that action.
But I'm terribly frustrated for him. He was so happy this morning. He ate his breakfast, brushed his teeth, even sang along in his own Ryan way with the Sesame Street CD this morning the whole way to school. WHAT HAPPENED that threw him off course? What happened that upset him to the point of screaming and pounding himself? When asked, there is no answer. He was so disturbed, Eric said, that he fell into his daddy begging for mommy. Once at home, he really hasn't paid much attention to me. He actually chilled on the couch for quite a while, seemingly honoring my request to please let his brother and sister sleep. For whatever reason I received this mercy, I am grateful for it.
Every day I do mommy things. Every mommy things, like refilling sippy cups, cleaning sticky hands, kissing freshly-wiped faces and dirty knees, refereeing fur-flying scuffles, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning who knows what off of (usually) Richie's chair at the table. I clean poop out of carpet and off of dolls when someone feels a bit exploratory. I drag them to the doctor when they're sick, let them get dirty, and clean them when they're through. I let them feel sad, angry, and frustrated, and do my best to guide them to share their feelings, then equally do my best to guide them to hope and remind them of joy. But, as I shared with Eric's Mom this weekend, the level of inadequacy I exhibit and the lack of things we do for Ryan grieves my soul.
Jumping on the couch I can handle. Throwing in the house? No problem. Both of these and a host of other behaviors in my two littles I can handle. Don't do it. Easy answer.
But what do you say to a child who pounds himself with his fists, screaming until his whole body turns red? What do you do when that same child can't tell you what's bothering him?
Me neither. And it scares the bajeebers out of me.
I don't know what the future holds, either. But I do know Who holds the future. And I know that I'm going to love my kids, all of them, no matter what their trials, no matter how noisy they are, no matter how sticky to the touch or ungrateful they may act. All for the simple fact that they are ours; entrusted to our care, each one fearfully and wonderfully made as the first. Each one special and beautiful in their own way, and flawed in their own way just as I am. I may not know right this minute what the next step is, but there is one, and I know from experience that when I step out, even if I'm too numb to know I'm stepping, the next step will come.
As the sweet, late Lucy's Daddy says, "God is always good, and we are in His hands."
Thanks be to God, the builder of the next step.