It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday.
The regular crowd shuffles in. There’s an old man sittin next to me….
Just kidding…I couldn’t resist.
But just admit it…you sang along.
Now seriously, it really is Saturday. Early morning, around 9.
I am lazily lounging in the bed, reading a book.
I glance at the clock and suddenly I freaking panic because I realize Zion hasn’t emerged from his bedroom.
Did he escape through his bedroom window?
Did he stop breathing in the night?
Did a large tree fall on that part of the house and crush him?
Oooookay, mom brain. Let’s back up the catastrophe train just a tick.
Could it be that he just slept in?
Yes. That is exactly what happened.
Suddenly Zion pops out of his room and belly flops into my bed.
“Good morning, mama. How are you?”
“I’m good buddy, how are you?”
“I’m good. Can I snuggle please?”
Be still my heart.
“Yes, of course you can buddy.”
After just a few minutes, I hear him breathing deeply.
I look over.
He’s fallen back asleep.
These are the moments I have to take a deep breath and just thank God. Because certainly I’m doing something right.
And that’s a good thing.
Just 2 weeks ago in a moment of mama meltdown, I snatched the iPad from Zion’s destructo-hands and threw it directly into the trash can, right in front of him. He had just broken $500 worth of my property, and yes, I was pissed off.
Zion really thinks the iPad is gone. He doesn’t know it is stashed in the hall closet.
The beauty of autism is that it is shrouded in innocence.
Zion has this lovely purity about him which makes him incapable of telling and comprehending lies. He takes everything at face value. This gorgeous incorruptibility makes it possible for me to do things like “throw away” the iPad.
And in a twist of poetic justice, that turned out to be one of the best over-reactions I’ve had in a long while.
Since Zion’s iPad amputation, I have seen his behaviors decrease exponentially.
His tantrums have decreased.
He is entertained by less for longer periods of time.
His anxiety has decreased.
His need for constant stimulus has also decreased.
He is reading books again. He is completing puzzles. He is watering the tomatoes. He is planting strawberries. He is drawing and singing and going for longer walks. He hasn’t asked for the iPad even once, because he truly believes it is gone.
And he is sleeping. A LOT.
Because…and hear me now when I say:
The lack of overstimulation to his brain is allowing him to CTFD.
Sometimes the most simple solutions are the hardest ones to find, because to be quite honest, we don’t want to find them.
That iPad has been babysitting my kid for close to 2 years.
If I need to cook a meal or take a shower or travel somewhere…or just rest for a minute…instant entertainment. No parenting necessary. Just log-in, jump online, and go.
We’ve all done it.
Because frankly, dangit, we are tired.
We need and deserve breaks.
But at what cost?
Handing my kid an iPad for 4 hours a day, day after day, and then getting upset because he won’t calm down or go to sleep makes about as much sense as loading him up on frappuccinos and then wondering why he’s bouncing off the walls.
It all comes down to the things I am allowing into my child’s body.
It is obvious that would include food, drink, medicine and vaccines.
But apparently it’s time, as a parent, that I start looking at the other things I am allowing into my child’s body, via his eyes and mind.
Why are we constantly inundating our kids with these things?
It’s our version of the Easy Button.
But we have to face the reality that our children are losing their ability to create…to learn to calm and quiet themselves…to just be.
10:19 a.m., same day
I open the refrigerator.
Someone needs to go to the store around here.
Oh wait, that would be me.
Single mom problems.
We have exactly 2 eggs. For 3 people.
And some milk. And a bit of butter.
I look in the cabinet, we have plenty of flour, vanilla and baking powder.
I decide to make pancakes.
Right then I realize it has been very quiet for a little too long.
I walk slowly toward the back of the house to investigate the ominous silence. (You know it. You’ve been there.)
As I round the corner into Zion’s room, I stop right before he sees me. He is sitting on the floor, lining up his farm animals.
He takes a cow in one hand and a pig in the other, and toddles them along as though they are walking together.
He points both animal’s snouts down to the ground and says, “The cow and pig drink the water.”
And then he sees me.
“I play the animals!”
“I love to see that, buddy. Do you want to help me make pancakes?”
He looks back down at his animals and says, “No thank you. I eat the pancakes.”
Ahhhhh. I see how it is. Thank you son, for clearing that up.
I guess I was pushing my luck just a bit.
Baby steps, mama. Baby steps.