So I have spent the Summer – since our return from Hawaii, and my own personal meltdown in Hawaii – trying to let go, to let him do it, and let him be the big kid he is working on becoming. Some days are easier than others. He’s had quite a few wins, and a few losses. Letting him “lose” is hard. It’s painful. It’s a struggle to watch him struggle. I want so desperately to intervene, to fix, to manage. Currently, he’s having an episode over a Lego set that isn’t going together easily. My natural instinct is to go over there and help. But he must learn to a) manage his anger and frustration and b) ask for help when he really needs it. So here I sit on the other side of the room, just listening and trying to contain myself.
I have come to realize therapy is as much for me as it is for him. I spend the first 5-10 minutes with his therapist updating her on how he’s doing at home. She gives me direction and helps, things to think about. We’ve spent quite a bit of time this summer talking about me enabling him, and in the process of my micro-management, making him somewhat codependent. Stomach-punch, right? But it needed to be said. Today she said something that again has me saying, “Hmmmmmm……” My pain over seeing him in pain is hurting him. He has been apologizing multiple times a day for the past few months, whenever he has an episode, outburst, or sideways behavior. I know it is because he sees my frustration and hurt. I try, honestly I try, to keep my anguish over his autism from his sight. But sometimes it is just overwhelming. Her words today reminded me that I have work to do too. I cannot let my hurt over his hurt affect him. He *is* very capable of so many things. And he is learning and developing in so many ways. We both take a step backwards when I fail in a response to one of his fails.
He is my baby. As much as I swore I would never baby the baby, it just seems to happen naturally. I need to let him grow up. I need to let him be a big kid. I need to let him work things out. He is capable, if I will just let him be. He will fall. He will make mistakes. But that is part of learning and growing. How will he ever learn to recover from failure, and/or fail gracefully if I never let him fail?
He has had a lot of “wins” in the past week. He’s taking on more personal care – things I used to do because it was just faster and easier for me to manage. They are little things….making his own bagel (which includes putting cream cheese on the bagel), taking his laundry upstairs and hanging up his shirts, letting the water out of his bath….These are all things I’ve done in the past. In stepping back and letting him do even the small things, he is already more confident and willing to take on bigger things. He is growing up. At nine, my oldest seemed so much older than E does now. But if I really think about it, E is doing great. He’s making great strides. And I am somewhat relieved. He will grow up. He will not always be stuck in this exact spot. It gives me confidence.
At the moment, he is excited for school to start. He has been asking to go school-supply shopping. His anxiety is way lower than we expected, especially considering the facts he will have a new teacher for the first time in two years, and will not be with most of the classmates he’s had for two years.
We did hit a minor speedbump….He has refused to learn how to ride a bike (without training wheels). So in an effort to help him keep up with his siblings and friends as they pedal around the neighborhood, we bought him an electric scooter. He fell, rather epically, the other day. Nothing broken, but some decent knee and elbow scrapes. He didn’t want to get back on the scooter. He is convinced he is going to fall and get hurt again. He likely will fall. That’s part of childhood….you play, you fall, you get scraped up, but you get back on the bike, scooter, skateboard or whatever, and life goes on. But his anxiety prohibits that get-back-on response. We had to push to get him back outside, and even then, he wouldn’t get on the electric scooter. His therapist has suggested occupational therapy to help him with his anxieties. Sigh. It is another piece of the puzzle we have been missing, and just another note that we are on a different, uncharted journey.
Wins, yes. Losses, certainly. But we’re both learning. And he is growing up.