Funny not funny story. Last week and a half has been a little rough. And as I started to write this blog post, I started thinking, hey…last year–at this exact very time–was rough. Last year J had an epic meltdown the day after election day. In fact, he got kicked out of school and I had to bring him home early. And then I remembered, hey…when did I write that post about being in the mid-semester slump? 2 years ago at around this exact time. Guess what happened this week? any guesses? J got kicked out of school for behaviour this Thursday. At this point, I’ve determined he’s an unpredictable predictable creature, and I’ll get to that a little later. First I’ll start of with the rough week Steve and I had (before J made our week a new kind of rough).
J’s IEP was in its final stages and his case manager and I were still going back and forth on what specific accommodations should be added, tweaked, or clarified. 1st quarter grades were in and we had some questions about what was going on in some of J’s classes and how that was being reflected in his grades (since last year’s IEP wasn’t super clear on accommodations–J’s paras did a lot of the accommodations on the fly). We met with his case manager (who is PHENOMENAL) and worked through that mess (which was really her assuring us that with the IEP in place, everything would work out and we’d figure out to work out those kinks). Steve and I were also stressed out about J’s first choir concert. The performance expectation are much higher in high school and J doesn’t “look” like a high school performer, so there were concerns from both us (and his teacher’s) on what that was going to look like–luckily, in the end, his choir concert worked out just fine.
And then there was J’s drama that came on Thursday–our inaugural getting-kicked-out-of-high-school-day where I got to rush to school and bring him home because of his behaviours. That was really rough. New school, new people trying to explain the situation–J, autism, etc–to. The hardest part was seeing the look on some people’s faces when I picked up J. Most people were really accommodating/understanding about it. There were a few who were not. They didn’t say anything to me, but gave me that “what the $%&! is WRONG with your child” look I used to get frequently at Target when J was a toddler and had a meltdown in the middle of the store. I cried on the way home, just like I did in those toddler Target days.
If I had known now what I did then–if I had been better at “tracking the trends” of J’s anxiety, I would have put the pieces together that the second week of November spells J being kicked out of school. I could spin my brain for the next 15 years on what the trigger is–is it a number on the calendar? is it daylight savings? is it because it’s a short school week because Nov 11 is a holiday? is it because it’s the election week? I’m not going to play that game. I’ve put an alert on my calendar for the second week of November, for a BIG HEADS UP on J behaviour. I’ve given up on trying to decode his anxiety. It is what it is.
Friday was a day off, and I was parenting solo for most of that day and I was still pretty pissed at J and burnt out after my own stress about the previous week. Steve was really busy and wasn’t home until 8:30 at night, and I was stuck with a kid who, at first was crying all morning about losing his Wii until December 1 until he transitioned to, “I’m so sad I hurt Mrs. T’s feelings. I’m a bad kid” all afternoon. J has slowly learned how to feel remorse over something bad he’s done, not just because of the negative consequence he faces, but because the genuinely feels bad for hurting someone else. Of course, it’s the moment the people who need to see that the most will never see. They see one moment of our lives (the worst) and I’ve learned that’s how those Target moments happen. And I’ve just come to the conclusion, that’s just the crappy part of life sometimes.
Saturday, Steve and I were still debating whether we should get out of Fargo because of the long weekend. Last week, that was a definite yes, but Saturday morning, I was still in an awful mood because I was burnt out from J. Steve and I debated for an hour what we should do. J still needed to do math (because he did a lot of crying and moping all Friday) and I wanted to go to IKEA to pick up somethings but I didn’t want to drive 3 hours anywhere. Finally, at 10 am we left the house for Winnipeg and right before we hit Grand Forks, Steve gets pulled over by a state patrol officer for a speeding ticket. As we waited for the officer to write up Steve a ticket (which Steve got off with a warning—I’ve NEVER gotten off with a warning), I realized that this would be a good time to explain how to interact with cops to the kids–W will be driving in a few years and both kids need to know if they ever get stopped by a cop how to be polite, answer their questions, and not have a meltdown over it. Thankfully, J handled it well–there wasn’t a peep out of him about how upset he was that our trip was interrupted. In fact, he didn’t seem bothered by it at all. Which is a really, REALLY good thing.
Some days are rough. And then it gets better, and it’ll be rough again. That’s the nature of autism–life really. Since J and I left school so abruptly on Thursday, I’m really not looking forward to sending him back today. It’s those awful Thursday moments that make me want to keep him at home and home school him. In some ways, it would be much, much easier. But I keep telling myself that the world needs to know J, and all the other Js out there, and they need to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of autism. I get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of everyone else who isn’t autistic, so it’s only fair, right? And maybe it will make life easier someday for someone else who shows up at his high school a few years later, because the more people see autism, the more they’ll understand it. It’ll help reduce those misunderstood “Target” moments.
Let’s hope this week goes a little better.