Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Menacing Request

What do you think?  He's begged for this forever now. 

Not sure.  It's risky, but he is older, and we know better now too.  

So should I get it?

Sure.  We'll just have to be careful.  

~Eric and I, on the item Ryan wanted to buy with birthday money.

Stuff gets complicated around here.

Not that it doesn't at your house.  I understand that we all have our own set of problems, challenges, and the like as well as different blessings.  But sometimes our personal differences just... sting.

The above conversation sounds like we're buying something dangerous, right?  A knife, a BB gun, a .22... all big birthday gifts where I grew up, by the way.  Could it be a go kart?  A four wheeler?  Hmm.  What could the controversial item possibly be?

Ready?  I'm gonna tell you!  Do you think you can take the suspense?!

And the mystery item is...

Menacing, isn't he?

Can you believe I let something that scary into my house?  

Let me back up a bit. 

About three years ago... maybe four... Ryan got a little train similar to this one.  He already had a few and several pieces of track.  But this time it was different.  

On Christmas Eve, in my hometown, Ryan opened a black Thomas and Friends character train.  It was from the newest movie at the time, and was the main character.  He was a new friend of Thomas.  Long, black, and rather square, he came with his own coal tinder.  His name was Hiro.  

That night, as I put Ryan to bed, he didn't want to give up his new plastic friend for anything.  Of the Trackmaster line of Thomas stuff, he ran on his own on a couple of double A batteries.  I stood at the doorway, watching Ryan hugged up to his new train, all teary-eyed.  It was one of the few regular mommy moments I'd had in recent years, and what could be wrong with letting the kid sleep with his new toy?  That's what you do with these things.  What could possibly go wrong? 

Over the next few months, we found out. 

Ryan's love for Hiro grew until he was carrying him everywhere.  I mean EVERYWHERE.  He ate, slept, played, and even went to the bathroom with Hiro.  Not just "Here mom, hold this."  Hiro was IN HIS HAND.  He wouldn't let go of that train for anything.  The only time he would let go was to go to school, and that wasn't pretty.  

Then the day came when Ryan wouldn't even put Hiro on the tracks anymore.  And if he did happen to let go long enough for his dear friend to have a run, if a toddling 18 month old Richie came in the room, Ryan started to scream.  He'd snatch Hiro off the the tracks and act like something bit him.  

I had no idea what to do, or if I was overreacting.  I mean, all kids love things, right?  All kids develop attachments.  What's the big deal? 

Thankfully, we had a behaviorist who came to the house every now and again through the school.  She helped me understand that Ryan wasn't just crazy about Hiro.  He was addicted.  

Sounds crazy, right?  Maybe a little over-reactive, helicopter-mom?  If you'd been there, you'd get it.  If you've struggled with this, you get it.  

Through a little coaching from our awesome behaviorist,* time, and a lot of loud, violent melting down,  we finally weaned him away from Hiro.  With his stickers rubbed completely off, his last destination was a landfill.  

After all that, we swore off all Trackmaster tracks and trains.  Never again.  No way.  

Then, a couple years ago, started to ask for Trackmaster for his birthday.  

"You want Trackmaster for your birthday!"

"You will get Trackmaster for your birthday, Mommy!"  

He'd stim and ask in his own way, interchanging birthday for Christmas.  He asked and asked and asked.  We tried to explain.  Then, when he was opening gifts on his birthday this year, it happened.  

As he walked toward his pile of gifts and cake, he said, "You will get Trackmaster for your birthday, Mommy!"  

And, knowing there was no Trackmaster in the pile, my heart broke. 

We talked about it.  He had money to spend from my great-aunt and his Nana, so should we try?  Coupled with a few autism-parent years under our belt, his birthday money went into the store he himself refused to go into, and with a last worried glance to Eric, I left the van with Richie to shop for birthday.  

With help from his biggest fan, I chose that little Thomas and a pack of flex-track.  The feeling was a lot like a new job.  I was excited and nervous.  The look on his face... the sheer delight... would be great, but his owning this item costs a lot of work on our part.  Here he is on his first go-rounds with his precious gift.

The bottom shot holds the intensity and fervor of his love for this new toy.  He's already worn the battery, and I'll soon replace it.  But this time, he puts his train away at night... and he has to do other things during the day without it.  Right now, the train sits on a track in the floor while he plays iPad in the kitchen.  

This is big, folks.  

We've had a few bumps in the road so far, but thankfully it's nothing deal-breaking.  

Thanks be to God for the peace and courage to try again.  For without that, this post and so many more would simply not be possible.  This stuff is hard, but we have been given so very much.  

*We only had her around for a few months.  They were great, but short.  Looking for a major?  There's work a plenty in behavioral therapy.

1 comment:

  1. I pray this will be a positive experience for everyone this time around. Thank you for continually blogging. I appreciate reading your blog and following the ups downs. (We are old family friends of the Senzigs. Ask Sue if she remembers Allen Long's daughter.) Hugs to your sweet family!


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