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Life lessons a little early in life

Once again, the planned post is shoved aside due to life happening…..

Little Man had one of his worst meltdowns in months last night. I really hate these nights. They drain every ounce of energy I may have left, and they make me sad. He went to bed on time, and with relatively little struggle. When it was time for Big Man to go up (they share a Jack-n-Jill bathroom), he quickly came back down to tell me LM was crying. Sigh. I told him it was okay, thinking LM was just fighting going to bed when everyone else was downstairs.  Twenty minutes later, he was “really crying.” Double sigh. I dragged my exhausted carcass upstairs. Little Man was huddled in a ball under his weighted blanket, wrapped around Jaws, crying his little heart out. Triple sigh.

“What’s wrong?”

Groan

“I can’t help you if you can’t talk to me.”

Groan. Pathetic, heartbreaking face. Ugly cry.

“Deep breaths.  What’s going on?”

“Some days are just so hhhhaaarrrdddd!” more tears, more tears, more tears.

“Yep, you’re right. Some days are hard. Some days, it feels like everyone and everything is out to get you. Today is over. Tomorrow will come, and it will be a new, fresh day to start again. You just have to fight through the bad days.”

Life lessons such as this, at ten years old, aren’t fair.  They’re so painful to watch him struggle through.  It hurts me. He shouldn’t know this yet – that there are days you just have to keep breathing, fight minute-by-minute, push back, make it to bedtime.  But this is part of his path, part of the fallout of autism, anxiety, depression.

I made him tell me something good that happened yesterday. It took a few minutes of him just breathing, and me just waiting. He told me he helped another kid at school. I prodded the story out of him. A boy was sitting by himself on the ground at lunchtime, crying.  Little Man, noticing (did you see that? He noticed emotion in a peer!) this boy was sad, approached him, knelt down to talk with him, asked him what was wrong, and if he could help. He said the boy didn’t respond, but he knows what it’s like when you’re crying and don’t want to or can’t answer.  I was so proud of him on so many levels. He noticed someone was sad, he approached, and tried to help. We talked about compassion and empathy.

As for the hard days, we have two new plans. When he is having those thoughts that life is too hard, when the negative thoughts come into his brain, he has to say five positive things about his life. We listed about twenty last night to give him a start. We are also going to get him a “worry box” in which he will put worries he’s written down so he can get them out of his head. We may or may not talk about those worries in the box. We haven’t made it that far in the planning. I need a place for him to put these things which ravage his days.

He calmed down. He even laughed at the antics of our craziest cat, who assumed we couldn’t see him in his paper cave, even though his tail was sticking out, and he was making all kinds of noise.  As  I turned off the light and walked out of the room, I could hear his breathing settle into sleep.

Nights like this make me anxious.  We have a long way to go, and I worry I won’t be vigilant enough to see him through. I keep shoring up, but am fearful the levee will break when I least expect it.  And so I watch, and keep working on making sure he has what he needs to get through each day.

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