We have a monitor in The Skink's room, and when she goes upstairs to play I get to overhear her conversations with the Little People and all the animals. The one that gave me the giggles yesterday was "1... 2... 3... Chicken!" Then I heard one of the Little People cars racing across the little wooden table in The Skink's room and drop off the edge. "Oh, Chicken. I sorry!" came the little voice over the monitor. "All better? OK, swing!"
These days we get to witness these adorable interchanges between Skink and toy all the time. It's better than T.V.!
And in world news this evening... This morning before school we went to Iraq's psychiatrist. She's a wonderful doctor and full of good insight. We brought up "Beg Mode." I think I *may* have mentioned before that "Beg Mode" strikes fear into the entire family. Amazingly, the doctor had a very fancy name for it - something like "demandaria," or "horrific repetitious begoria" or something, but I can't remember. At any rate, apparently this is something very common in children in the autism spectrum. They sorta get stuck on a particular thought or desire and just can't be redirected by their desperate and unfortunate parents.
Great - but how do we avoid or fix "demandiarrhea?"
The doctor looked us in the eye and simply said "Maybe you could just give her what she wants."
As a parent, it is repetitively beaten into our brains that we must stay consistent, that "No" means "No," and that giving in to begging is the greatest sin there is and is grounds for a one-way ticket to hell! Give her what she wants? Are you kidding me?
No. The doctor was not kidding. If Iraq asks for ice cream just before dinner, tell her she may have one teaspoon of ice cream and may then save the rest until after dinner. If she doesn't want to do her homework, ask her if she would like to choose just some of the homework. If she does two math problems happily and then trots off, two math problems is better than none. If she does none, I get to keep my eyes and skin, and the house is quiet and the damage remains minimal.
I have to admit I felt like a cat getting it's fur rubbed the wrong way... with a rake. But under that feeling was a weird sense of relief... like finally I have permission to NOT wage war at every single intersection along the path of parenthood. Of course - this is NOT advice to be given to the parents of neuro-typical children, and those methods were neither employed with Broadway nor will they be used for The Skink. But Iraq is not Broadway nor is she The Skink, and she requires something very different. Something that will most definitely get us some dirty looks from other parents at WalMart.
You know... I seem to bring up WalMart a lot. I have a love-hate relationship with WalMart. I love WalMart because I can get everything I need in one trip at a price that our family can *almost* afford... but I hate having to deal with the well-meaning-know-it-alls that lurk among the aisles. Those scary, scary well-meaning-know-it-alls.
I think I may have been one of them once, albeit a mostly keep-it-to-myself know-it-all.
When Broadway was small, I knew everything! He was an easy child. I was a consistent parent. He was well behaved which meant I was a wonderful parent, and I knew everything.
And then I had Iraq... and suddenly I didn't know so much. And the older she got, the less I knew. Until now... and now... I know nothing.
Yet I still have to face all the *helpful* people at WalMart who come in all ages. Some are young and some are old. Some have had children and some have 458 grandchildren and none of their children ever behaved like Iraq because they possess the magical secret to parenting, which usually entails a good spanking! Most of them say nothing, but their faces speak volumes! Those bold enough to actually say something receive a polite explanation (that I'm sure many don't understand or believe). Apparently it is possible to discipline or beat autism out of a child... but horrible mother me... I'm not willing to try! And worse yet, unlike my chromosomally enhanced tot, Iraq "just looks so normal." Yup - right up until she starts screeching "PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZ" over some $8 pack of gum that will only end up ground into the fabric of the back seat of our car.
And then there are the people who say, "Well, if you can't handle your children at WalMart, just don't bring them." OK? And when will you be over to babysit? Or would you rather I email my grocery list to you and you can just drop it off on Tuesday? Yeah... gee, sorry... but our staff of nannies and maids have the year off.
Worse yet, now my 15-and-a-half-year-old knows all there is to know about parenting, and points out all my deficiencies in the check-out line.
Broadway: "Mom! You shouldn't let her stand on the end of the cart! Why do you let her get away with so much?"
Me: "because, honey, I have to pick my battles."
Him: "You never let ME get away with doing that!"
Me: "She is not you."
Him: "That's not fair!"
Me: "Life isn't fair. If it were, my teenage son would be helpful and supportive while I stand here loosing my mind instead of trying to hide it for me. Did you take your ADHD pill this morning?"
Him: "Uhhh... well... you still shouldn't spoil her like that!"
And through it all I do my best to hold my head high and tell myself, "I am a parent like no other!"
And if you happen to spot my sanity while you're at WalMart, I'm offering a reward for its return. I believe it may be hiding there behind a pack of $8 gum.