I know, I know, I mentioned this already but this morning it’s rather important. She had a busy weekend but not overly so, and went to bed at a decent hour last night. She slept well and hard (thankfor melatonin, by the way… ooh, I think I forgot to put that on my gratitude journal). This morning she should have been awake enough to… uh… you know, not keep falling back into a deep and snoring sleep. She was in no mood to go to class today, not even to see her best school friends “CORINNE AND SARA! I LOVE THEM! I WENT TO KINNERGARDEN WITH CORINNE!”
Luckily I planned for this. You learn a trick or three as a mother to a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. One way to avoid flailing arms and legs aka direct kicks and punches is to minimize the amount of unwanted-by-the-child contact. On school nights we do away with pajamas and let her wear her next day’s clothing. In regard to getting her dressed all I have to do is get her socks and sneakers on and brush her hair up into its typical blonde “pixie tail” (because little girls aren’t ponies). We usually do this on the front porch while we wait for the bus.
During the typical school year it’s much more difficult to get this routine down because she gets an extra hour or so of sleep. She fights me more and she fights me harder. Make no mistake about what that means. I come away with purple-black bruises. A couple of times she’s landed kicks to my stomach that made me gag and once I actually threw up. This coming school year I’ll be signing up for a course on therapeutic holds through the school’s special services program.
During the summer session she has to wake up so much earlier she just doesn’t have as much energy to fight me very hard. She’s also usually in a better mood, for some odd reason. She usually gets on the summer bus without much more than a token, “I don’t wanna go today.” “But you get to see Sara and Corinne and eat your yogurt for snack.” “Shut up.” “Let’s go outside.” “Okay!” Mondays are usually more difficult anyway, but during the summer she knows that it’s a limited number of weeks. She only goes for four weeks, and this week is her last week. She thought last week was the last week in spite of repeated reminders. That could just be typical 8-year-old selective memory.
On Friday we were still stuck in Satan’s armpit but it was the worst day of them all, and I couldn’t justify sending her to school. It was already nearly 90* at 7:30AM when the bus was scheduled to pick her up and we were expecting at least 100* by noon, which is when class lets out. Her bus ride is 20 minutes. I kept her home and was relieved that I did. By the time she would have gotten home it was 103* and this is a child that’s so sensitive to heat that she’s had heat exhaustion a couple of times and been close to it more times than I care to count. She doesn’t tolerate extremes in temperature very well. So keeping her home on Friday could have had something to do with this morning’s difficulties.
She fought me every step of the way when she wasn’t actively trying to fall back to sleep on the couch. I’ve got a couple of bruises on my arms and stomach. We did get outside, but she kept making a run for the door. Once the bus came, I had to chase her down and then hold her gently and guide her to the door of the bus. She still resisted and stood there, in my gripping hug, angry, insistent, knowing I wasn’t going to back down. I’m very lucky that she didn’t jump up into my jaw. I reminded her that this was her last week.
“Gracie, I love you. This is the first day of your last week. Only five days left.”
“I hate you.”
But she got on that bus.
I guess in Gracie’s case, Mondays get a well deserved rap.