I do this sometimes, you know, in my so-called "regular" life. I go underground and need to, I don't know, disappear, get some perspective, hibernate. Or it's just hectic, or I feel guilty for writing about Isaac when I could be playing with him, or hanging with J., or, as is most often the case lately, trying to catch up on my sleep.
Tonight I saw the head of Isaac's school at a meeting, and she offhandedly commented that this time of year you see a lot of tantrums and a lot of behavioral leaps from the kids. Why didn't I know this, I wondered, as I recalled last Friday's nuclear meltdown: an hour in front of the dry cleaner's as Isaac refused to go to school, followed by another forty minutes as he howled and wailed and fell to the street.
I was good. I was patient. I was a model mom. I ignored the stink-eye from passersby, sure that I was doing some horrible bad mom thing that had clearly come home to roost. Or maybe I was just imagining it, because I'm a little oversensitive that way.
I knelt down in front of Isaac, took his face in my hands. "Isaac," I said, "You are a big boy. You know you need to go to school. Then Daddy will pick you up and you can ride the elevators with him later."
"I want to go on the elevator NOW!!!" he wailed, his body a ball of tensed, vibrating muscle.
"Sweetie, I know you are upset and want to go on the elevator now. But it's a school day."
"It's an ELEVATOR day!!!"
"You can do this," I responded, my voice a soft whisper in his ear, urging him to listen to my tone, if not my words.
"I CANNOT!!! I CAN'T!!!" he wailed.
I felt hot tears spring to my eyes. Don't overthink this, I thought. Just...don't. But I couldn't push it from my mind. He's never said that before. And I wondered whether he's formulated this thought to himself before: I can't do this.
It broke my heart.
Later, after I had severely compromised my "model mom" status with some ill-timed yelling and at least one involuntary F-bomb (ugh!), I finally got him through the school door and, urged by the teachers, left. My clothes in a sweat-soaked mess, my hair blown wild by the wind, I sat in my car and just listened for a moment to the blood pulse-pounding in my ears.
Don't overthink this, I thought. It's just a tantrum. It's not prophecy. It's not Shakespearean foreshadowing of some horrible thing that will happen in Act III, just as we're thinking we're out of the woods. Know it for what it is: a very overwhelmed, very angry, very frustrated four-year-old boy.
But I couldn't shake it. Not then.
An hour or so later, my phone rang. "He's fine now. He's having milk and cookies in the kitchen, and he's telling us that he's sad that you said goodbye, but that Daddy will pick him up later."
I think he bounced back faster than I did, the little stinker.
I don't know about you, but I don't think I can take any more studies revealing that maternal mental illness, vaccines, television, cell phones, or, who knows, hearing the collected works of Andrew Lloyd Webber in utero (though that last wouldn't surprise me) causes autism. I just can't. Can we call a truce for a while? Please?
In the meantime, I think I just need to read Emily every time a new study comes out, so I can be sure my science comes pre-analyzed and pre-debunked by a trusted source.
[Oh, and random factoid: a casual Google search tonight of the terms "autism cause" returned a mere 619,000 entries, dwarfed by the whopping 112,000,000 returned for a search of "Britney Spears." So don't even begin to tell me what that says about our culture's priorities.]
Finally, and without too many details, we had our very first actually successful playdate yesterday, by which I mean that Isaac met a new child and new parents in a new house, played with the boy (a little), laughed with him and seemed to enjoy himself--for quite a sustained period. It helped that the parents were delightful, the boy was gentle and tolerant and funny and sweet, he had exciting toys, and there were plenty of opportunities for breaks when Isaac needed them. We were genuinely sorry to leave, and Isaac remarked in his bath last night that he wanted to go back to their house. As did we.
Wow. Don't want to jinx it, but it seems...promising.
Please be patient with me. I'll try to keep the tumbleweed to a minimum this week.