We took the kids on a hike this morning. It’s in the low 80’s (F) here today. It was a beautiful morning – one of those with a brilliant blue sky, a few puffy clouds flowing by, a slight breeze rustling new leaves. I woke up thinking a hike was definitely in order. So we leashed all three dogs (one small, one medium, one large), loaded everyone in the SUV, and drove to the nearby lake/reserve. We hiked a little over three miles, encountering runners, mountain bikers, and other hikers along the way. Two hours later we were back home. There are various trails, all with pretty scenic view points. Here’s a picture of one of those views with the kids on a convenient bench.
What you don’t see in the photo, nor hear in the words above is the battle it took to get Little Man out of bed, dressed, fed, and out the door. Nor do you see my complete frustration for most of the hike with his whining, complaining, rude and disrespectful comments, and intentional lagging behind. Yes, there were a few bright moments, but much of it was spent dealing with him.
We’re not in the place we were last November. Thank God for that. But it still isn’t pretty right now. I can’t tell if the new anti-anxiety medicine is helping at all. I worry it’s exacerbating his anger. We see so much anger these days. We hear him continually respond in a negative, angry manner, if he responds at all. The growls and hissing have returned. I can’t figure out what’s different. I don’t know why we’re here. I’m exhausted. I’m so tired of constantly reminding myself to not engage when he’s like that. He seems to go back and forth between rage, near-rage, and hyperactivity. His mood swings are quick, and huge. He might be laughing hysterically one minute, and screaming his head off the next. I can’t figure out how to make him level. We’ve been on the new medication a month now. I’d love to point my finger at the medicine and say this, this is definitely making the difference. But I just don’t know that for sure. If it isn’t though, is this what we’re stuck with? Is this just going to be him for the foreseeable future?
I reached a point in our hike I needed to just walk away, literally. I was getting angry. He was so rude. He was screaming at me for leaving him behind. I knew if I walked with him any longer, we were both going to lose it. That wouldn’t help anyone. Needless to say, his behavior took a lot away from my enjoyment of the morning. Yet I will insist on taking these family outings, knowing he has the potential to be a complete beast. He’s smart enough, and, dare I say it, manipulative enough, to use the words and place the blame on his autism, rather than taking any responsibility for his choices. i have a hard time separating the two. Yes he’s autistic. He’s also very smart, and very verbal. Where do we draw the line? Have we made it safe for him to just do whatever and blame his diagnosis for anything negative that comes out of his mouth? He still has to follow the same rules of the house – be kind, be respectful, be responsible – but do we give him too much leeway? Or is home and family safe enough for him to feel he can just let it all fly?
What isn’t in that picture is how hard most of that hike was to get through with him. There was anger, frustration, some clenched-teeth talking, and some of me just giving up. The ironic part is I know we will do it again, if not next week, soon. And I can guarantee the process will be repeated.
And just because I needed some laughter along the way…..our little Yorkie decided she’d had enough of our hike, found some shade and laid down, refusing to walk one more step. I had to carry her the last 3/4’s of a mile.