One of the books I've read recently had a line in it that stuck with me. It was about getting into running, and that inevitable time when you go out and do something you've done so much before - but this time it hurts bad, and it's a struggle to finish something you've gotten through with no trouble before. It said, "Sometimes the hard is easy, and sometimes the easy is hard."
That really struck a chord with me. I think, with a little modification, that may be the perfect description of handling an autistic child.
Of course, for parents of autistic children, our easy doesn't equal most other people's easy. Since Xander's nonverbal, an easy time might be, say, if he runs out of his room screaming "ARE YOU OKAY ARE YOU OKAY?" and rubbing his back. Means he was probably bouncing on a ball in his room- see the blog entry Weightless, on the first page - and managed to scrape his back on the dresser, or the bed. A fast mystery, easily solved.
There have been other times when he's come out from his room in that upset mode we've come to recognize as "I did something wrong and know I'm going to be in trouble." A search then ensues, with the fever and zeal of DeLeon's search for the Fountain of Youth, and more often than not the same success as well. Times like those, we can only be thankful it wasn't something as obvious as a broken ceiling fan or scribbles on the wall (check and check) and wait and see wait we find later. (Of course, then I have to wonder if when I punish him for a past action he really understands that or he feels I'm just mean...)
Other moderately easy times - once again, Xan banged his head at school this week. But this time it appeared to be a flat-out 'I don't want to do what you say' moment, since when it happened his teacher said "I'm telling Daddy" and he immediately said "Gonna calm down gonna calm down." (And then, in an example of the cunning I often write about, when I picked him up he went to his lunch box, opened it up, and got out some papers that had been stuck in there and put them aside, thinking one of them was a note to me about this) Didn't work, but I gave him points for slickness.
This week I was unfortunate enough to have a migraine. For those of you who never suffered from these agonies (and there's a precise reason people 'have' headaches but there are migraine 'sufferers'), a woman I knew in my teenage years who also suffered from them told me it was the closest pain a man could get to natural childbirth. Yeah. Roll that around in your mind for a minute.
Anyway, I got nailed by one and was fortunate enough Tracy was able to come home after I got Xander so I could go to our room, crank all the fans on high, and huddle in bed while waiting for the pain to pass. There have been times I've had to handle Xander while suffering from a migraine, and while many of those times have been easy and he's been awesome, there's been the flip side as well.
Times like that make it hard to do anything, much less decipher a cryptic clue. Much as I hate to admit it, there's often been times when I've forced to just tell him to wait until Mommy gets home and see if she could figure it out. We've been lucky these times were either not too important, since he didn't repeat it for Mommy, or he worked it out for himself.
These things, and a lot more, tend to make having an autistic kid like always having to parent while having a low-grade headache and on occasion a full-blown migraine - those times when you have no idea what's going on and feel helpless you can't help and sick your child has to suffer because you can't understand him. The easy isn't always easy, and the hard can be unbearable.
Then again, these hard times do make me cherish every step he does make towards being his own person. It makes every accomplishment wonderful and something to be proud of, and respect it so much more because I know it's harder for him to do that.
That's some silver linings you won't ever get in a migraine.