Charlie slept for a total of three hours last night. From 1:00 AM until 8:00, he was slinking around, changing clothes, eating, waking up his brothers, and pretty much not sleeping. I kept waking up to find him gone again, locating him, and putting him back to bed where I could see him. It would get quiet and peaceful. I would doze off. He wouldn’t.
He put on three different sets of pj’s during the night. At one point, I woke to find him fully clothed and had this alarming sense that he would sneak outside to play and make mischief, despite it being 1:30 in the morning and dark out.
I get spitting, flaming, intensely mad at Charlie when this sort of behavior snaps us into it’s ugly jaws. As I lay awake at 2:30 AM thinking about why I am so jaggedly angry at a six-year-old who won’t (can’t?) sleep, I decided that I’m angry because I’m scared. I’m afraid of the fact that I can’t keep Charlie safe and contained, even in the middle of the night. I’m worried he will get out of the house and get hurt while I am sleeping.
I am mostly scared that I have so little influence over my son. He only sometimes obeys me. His impulse-control is deficient enough that he basically does whatever he wants, the only barrier being someone physically stopping him as he howls and kicks in protest.
I feel powerless. It is such crap.
You know the type of advice that psychologists and therapists give for interacting with people whose bad behavior is affecting those around them? It’s generally all about setting boundaries, setting limits, communicating clear expectations, and refusing to let the bad behavior be your problem. Well guess what? None of that shiz works when it’s your kid and he’s on the autism spectrum and he has major anxiety.
All of my child’s bad behavior is my problem. It’s totally my problem. I am the liaison between my son and the world, and I by default absorb the blows when Charlie and the world don’t mix. I am the contact person whenever someone has a problem with the way my kid is acting. I am the frustrated maestro at the center of this whacked out, discordant symphony.
It’s all my problem, peeps. All of it. No one can swoop in and fix it for me either, despite my inadequacy. We have an involved psychiatrist, pediatrician and team of behavior therapists, but no one can change Charlie.
Charlie’s baby blessing, back when he was a pudgy little infant in the spring of 2008, was all about listening. Dutch’s blessing for Charlie was beautiful, all of it centered around the theme of Charlie having the gift of listening—to his parents, his brothers, his grandparents, his teachers, the people of his mission. I keep wondering when this penchant for listening will begin. Or if he is listening now, where is it going?
It’s a riddle. And I’m tired and apparently not good at riddles.