It’s All My Problem, Peeps

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.

  4 comments for “It’s All My Problem, Peeps

  1. Lacey
    July 30, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    This is my life. I too a, mostly scared and feeling very inadequate. And tired. Oh so very tired.

  2. July 31, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I completely understand! I get quite a few strange looks from people who visit my house when I rush them in the door, close it, deadbolt it, and then lock a chain at the top of the door. Both of my autistic boys have some strange instinct to make a run for it the minute they hear a door open. I worry, especially at night because my oldest spends a good two or three hours every night wandering around his room (and sometimes other parts of the house). I dread the day he decides he wants to go outside in the middle of the night, because despite all the barriers I’ve tried to put up, he’s smart, and he will get out if he wants to. As far as listening goes, I KNOW my son listens more than he might seem to, he simply chooses to ignore what we say if it doesn’t jive with what he wants. It makes me want to tear my hair out sometimes, but like you said, it all on us.

  3. Katrina
    July 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Megan, I just love you.

    I struggle with being unable to reason with my son, who gets stuck on one thought and can’t seem to progress past it. I took him to get a cavity fixed this week and left the dentist a half hour later frustrated and embarrassed as anything, and he with cavity intact because he wouldn’t stop squirming as soon as the suction straw was turned on. He then screamed bloody murder at me the whole way home and half an hour after we were home because the dentist turned the movie off. As much as I tried to reason with him and teach him about consequences, he couldn’t get past that movie. After crying at my desk as I listened to him scream and hit himself over and over, I finally shook him by his shoulders, screamed my reasoning at him, and buckled him in the baby’s seat to keep him contained while I hid in my closet and sobbed.

    I hate losing my temper with him. I hate it when my other boys have to watch me lose control like that. That was my low point this week, and it seems like my challenges are so much smaller than yours. 🙂

    You are right- our sons are our responsibility, and it’s all up to us. But we’re not alone. Sometimes I feel like the only way I have survived the last five years is with Heaven’s help. I have mild OCD and am a bit of a control freak, but having these boys has forced me to realize that I won’t always be there to protect them. The only solace I get is pleading with Heaven to surround them with angels when I cannot be there, to guard and protect them. And I know those angels are there. 🙂

    I also had a friend that talked about putting six different locks on his door when his son decided to start taking midnight strolls around the neighborhood. 😉 Fortunately my kids are all young enough that one at the very top of the door works, for now. 🙂

  4. Jen
    August 10, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I love that you acknowledged this. NO–my son’s difficulties are NOT my FAULT. But they ARE my PROBLEM. I absorb these problems like oxygen–how can I not? They sink in and take over and I have to figure out how to deal or ignore or direct or cope or seek intervention. There is no alternative. One way I cope is reading your blog. Love you!

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