Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Week in the Life - Autism Parenting

     Morning: Ugh, seriously, you sucked at sleep last night. Getting you up and dressed is going to be like poking a bear with a sharp stick. Yes we need to get out of (my) bed. (*NO!*). Yes we need to use the potty. (*NO!). Yes we need to get dressed. Go find your shoes. Put your shoes on. (*NO!) Grab your backpack and let's go to school. (*Don't wanna go school!*) Don't you want to see you friends? (*NO friends!*) - Gets to school and races ahead screaming, "FRIENDS?!" Parent is...confused but glad that he's going to be at school for a few hours. Go to work.
     Afternoon: Brace yourself for a sleep-deprived almost 4-year-old. Pick up child at daycare. He falls asleep in the car. You arrive home and try to take him out of the car without waking him. Don't poke the bear. He wakes up and insists you carry him to the house but hits you and screams NO the entire walk to the house.
     Evening: Screaming. Crying. Won't eat dinner (even after you offer waffles and strawberries, his current favorites). Falls asleep on the couch. Help oldest with homework. Huffing and puffing, this is boring, can we do this tomorrow? Carry youngest's 40-pound body to the bed to put on a pull-up instead of his undies. He wakes up and becomes a screaming mess. You lay on the floor and he falls on top of you and you rock him until his heart beat slows from 900 billion miles an hour. You finally get him to bed and he announces, "I need to go potty." Three minutes later he is snoring. You drink wine and feel emotionally and physically exhausted.

Dinner of champions

Everyone slept well because they were so damn tired from not sleeping well Sunday night although you get woken up at 1:30 a.m. by the child coming to sleep in your bed. He tosses and turns and wiggles for 15 minutes before settling. You finally fell back to sleep at around 2:30 a.m. and wake up at 5 a.m. to shower and drink coffee before you deal with The People. 6:45 you bring them THEIR morning coffee (milk cups) and repeat Monday's morning process. "No want to get up!" Me neither dude, but look at me all showered and dressed and shit while you were still sleeping.
Go to work. Come home and nap because 7 hours of sleep in 2 days is wearing on you. Pick up boys from daycare. Drop youngest at home with husband and take older child to karate. Make sure you have snacks, drinks, karate uniform, and coffee. Child with Autism screams as you leave the house (because you apparently won't come back...which you have thought about..). "No mumma no go nooooooo momma nooooooooo"
Finish karate at 6:45. Debate picking up fast food or asking husband who is poor at multitasking (observing a child AND cooking dinner? that can be done?) to cook something while we return from karate (which takes forever due to construction). Discuss why there's traffic with 6-year-old (AGAIN).
Pick up dinner because husband can't find anything to make at the house. Dole out chicken and french fries to happy children. Breathe because...hey, nobody is screaming! Do homework with oldest. He complains and huffs and puffs. 7 p.m. Witching Hour. Baths. Screaming NO. Bed time early because older child is tired from karate and younger child is still off on sleep. Everyone is asleep by 8:30 p.m. Pass out and drool on your pillow (until 1:30 a.m. when child arrives in your bed again).

5.5 hours of uninterrupted (i.e., you were kicked and shoved all night but the child didn't wake up and try to chat with you or watch TV at 3 a.m.) sleep! Glory be! Check your schedule. Work but NOBODY HAS ANYTHING THIS EVENING. Repeat Monday morning routine. Older child is getting better at trying to help youngest stay on track (but you wonder constantly if you're doing a disservice to neurotypical child because you have to focus on child with Autism so much - vow to spend more time with neurotypical child).
Home from work. Take a nap. Pick up boys from daycare. Cook actual healthy dinner. Only adults eat it. Older child cries until he is told he cannot have anything else because "this is dinner." Youngest throws his food at the dogs. Children basically do not eat. Eh, they have fat reserves.
Baths, screaming about brushing teeth, lots of "I need to potty" out of bed behaviors, and finally, sleep. Write blog post and daydream about sleeping.

Repeat Tuesday complete with karate and the possibility of fast food. Tell husband to make leftover spaghetti instead. Children eat as if they haven't eaten in days (wait...well...). Both fall asleep on the couch at 7:30 p.m. Parents debate leaving them there for a while's quiet and they can actually talk to each other for 5 minutes. Wake up children for baths and bed. Make sure oldest has finished his weekly homework (due tomorrow) and force him to finish it if it isn't complete. Decide baths are not necessary and hustle them both to bed. Did they brush their teeth? Can't remember. Tired.

Repeat Monday's morning routine except you get to sleep 1 hour later because you don't have to be at work until later on Friday (so you can come home and shower after dropping boys off). Actually apply makeup without "assistance," anyone taking your shit, or anyone asking what you're doing. Dress and go to work leisurely. Daydream of a time when you had no children. Then the school calls and tells you that older son fell on the playground and hit his head (or insert another reason for call here). You pick up son and bring him home to rest. Work productivity = 10% when expected was 90%. Finish required work and read 5 pages of leisure reading book while child watches Transformers. Feel guilty because there are dishes to wash and there is laundry to fold. Take nap with older child (which is actually really nice because he's a solid sleeper). Drink coffee and steel yourself for picking youngest up. Grocery shop quickly - make sure to get pizza, coffee, and coffee creamer, because, you know, priorities.
Pizza night for dinner - family and friends come over for pizza and relax with beer and wine. Leave the room often, leaving children with unsuspecting family and friends while you breathe and try not to scream about children who are fighting over a toy and still haven't learned to share. Youngest's "MINE!" is a shrill scream. It's lovely. Husband forgets the fact that children still need to go to bed because he's spending time with friends, and doesn't bathe children (which is his job). Children end up falling asleep on the couch after being bathed at 9 p.m. It would be so nice if going to sleep later meant sleeping later, but, you know, HA. Friends leave, thanking you for the free birth control (i.e., hanging out with your kids). You got it! THIS COULD BE YOU.

Wake up at 7 a.m. with youngest who is all about watching "Toy Story videos" on your laptop. As long as you let him, he will be entertained and you can drink coffee, have breakfast, and even relax a little. But you know that when you want to do some work later there will be a disagreement over ownership of said laptop. You contemplate taking children out to do XYZ in the neighborhood but worry that youngest will melt down in public which makes you anxious because it happens often. Decide to stay home because he has already melted down twice this morning over what seems to be nothing. Children begin chasing each other around the house, screaming. Look in the mirror and see a Mombie (i.e., Zombie mom). Oldest is crying because youngest threw something heavy at him. Put youngest in time out and soothe oldest. Start at "Children begin chasing each other" again...go for at least 5 or 6 times before lunch. Try to read books or some enriching activity. Sometimes they participate.
Make lunch. Maybe if you're lucky, a friend comes over to babysit in the morning and you can either a) nap or b) get some work done on your tablet (which is a pain in the ass, but taking the laptop back is poking the bear). Nap while children nap. Make 3 different dinners because nobody seems to want to eat what you had planned for dinner (and it's not pizza or chicken and french fries). Nobody is tired at bath time because they took naps (which they don't usually do during the week). Push bedtime back a little bit because nobody wants to fight with them (and they will literally just keep getting up if you make them go to bed). Feel like a crappy parent. Realize tomorrow is going to suck because they WILL be up at 7 a.m. again. Drink wine. Watch one episode of a TV show you wish you could catch up on and hope that Hulu doesn't take the episodes you need down before you get caught up.

7 a.m. they are up and chasing each other. Husband sleeps until 10:30 a.m. at which point you send child with Autism in to wake him because...otherwise he might not live to see Daddy when Daddy does wake up. Youngest has been repeating, "Eat donuts? Eat donuts mama? Mama, eat donuts? Donuts mama?" for the past 3 hours. Usually Daddy gets up and gets donuts on Sunday.
Consider day drinking.
Children watch TV or "Toy Story videos" on the computer. Lunch is a burned pizza (for some reason the Sunday lunch pizza ALWAYS gets burned). Naps. Feel guilty about not taking boys out of the house yesterday and so you bring them to the park after naps. There's nobody else at the park (you don't live in an area with a lot of kids). Oldest complains there's nobody to play with. Then another kid shows up. Youngest has had his fill and wants to leave but now oldest wants to stay and play with this kid he doesn't know. Sit in the car with youngest for a bit so oldest can have a chance to play with another kid (like, you know, a normal kid whose brother isn't having a meltdown in his car seat). Google all-inclusive vacations for you and husband while youngest screams and oldest plays. Give oldest five-minute warning. Take children home and make sandwiches for dinner because everyone agrees to eat them (but then youngest doesn't, oldest eats his sandwich even though you told him not to, and youngest returns to find he has no sandwich). Cue Sunday Night Cry from youngest. Cries until 11 p.m. (even though they went to bed at 8:45). Go in the backyard and mutter, "WHY WON'T YOU JUST GO TO SLEEP? YOU NEED SLEEP! WE ALL DO! JUST GO TO DAMN SLEEP!" until you feel slightly better about dealing with a wound up, upset, almost 4 year old. Finally say screw it, and take him to bed with you because you want to go to bed and he's still up and crying.

Googling beachfront vacations...with no children.

Enjoy your Monday!

**Stock images from Unsplash - check them out for gorgeous photos!**

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