Things have been quiet here on the red couch – and in many ways that’s a good thing. The red couch serves as the place where important things go down in our house – both good & bad, but let’s get real, in the past, there have been more difficult conversations than positive enlightening moments to work through from that sacred spot that Elliott christened so very long ago.
I’ve had many ideas floating around in my head for the past few weeks, and have had simply no time to jot them down. Here’s what’s weird – that’s a good thing!
Elliott’s therapy has been slowly ramping down for the past several months, and therefore our time together has been on the increase. Then, with school out for both Henry & Elliott, and Ada having a light therapy schedule these last couple of months, we’ve been having together time to the max.
In years past, that would not have necessarily have been a good thing. While that may not sound very motherly of me, I have no shame admitting that my crew can be quite a handful. During earlier years, this kind of togetherness would have meant a big increase in Prozac, and lots of tears (from me, not the children). There just wasn’t enough margarita mix in the world for that to be a successful summer adventure. I think you get the picture – and it wasn’t always pretty.
Here’s the good news – we’ve been having loads of fun! Elliott, while still experiencing his challenging days, for the most part is a pretty fun guy to hang out with. He’s got some habits that may be a bit out of the ordinary, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with sauntering down the path less traveled, right? Ada is busy – and some days her stubbornness shines through more than others, but I’ve come to sort of appreciate her “tough broad” ways. Henry is mostly easy-going – when he is not pitting the other two against one another (such a middle child) – and doing a ton of exploring of various tools, (his new passion) this summer. All in all, no one is going of the deep end, and we’re doing tons of activities just like any other family – and that feels pretty awesome!
Sure, I need to find humor in some of the bizarre things that pop up, just because that’s what helps me cope. For instance, during one of our first visits to our local water park, Elliott took it upon himself to yell – more than once – for everyone to get out of the water (thank goodness he didn’t have a whistle). He had seen the lifeguards run their safety drill, and decided that kind of power would be awesome to harness. Needless to say, they were less than amused with his attempt at water park domination. He also had a few difficulties with the lifeguards choosing which color of inner tube he got for the lazy river – but after a brief chat (yes, involving a threat) things cleaned right up.
My favorite is that he is more than frequently checking in with me. While lots of parents of kids with autism need to worry about kids running away, or just not paying attention and getting lost (which has happened with Ada who wandered away from us at the state fair last year involving the police – yikes!), we have the opposite difficulty with Elliott. He double and triple checks where I’m going to be, and then, even as he is standing way up on top of a tall water slide half way across the park, I hear his voice yelling “Hi Mom! I’m waiting nicely in line and using my manners.” or “Mom, you’re getting a little too far away from the orange slide” – our designated meeting spot. Yes, he keeps me in line.
Needless to say, the red couch has been mostly vacant this summer because we’ve been out and about, and taking advantage of all our community has to offer! Ok – I realize this may not make sense to a lot of people, but for those with a close connection to the autism community, that sentence speaks volumes. I don’t mean it in a whiney way – it’s just that in years past I would have been elated to have even one hour of one day that might be considered “typical”. Let’s get real – I likely have no idea what the heck typical family life is like – I’m only imagining what it might be like from the outside looking in (and yes, I get that every family has their issues). Things for us are just different, and generally take an extra long time to work through. That’s ok, because even on our most challenging days we have hope (and occasionally a strong margarita) along with the belief that things will get better.
Still, having time to just hang out doing regular summer stuff that kids do is sort of momentous for us, and I am working hard to appreciate each moment because it’s pretty darn amazing considering where we’ve been. Tomorrow may bring another unfortunate litter box like incident, but for today, I’ll enjoy a lovely visit to the water park, and smile to myself when my favorite 10 year-old greets me from high-atop his favorite slide and lets me know he’s remembering his manners . . .