This morning Zion was sitting on the floor doing a puzzle, when he looked up at me and said, “Mama, we go to the beach?”
I love that kid.
He is SO mine.
He loves the sand and the ocean waves just as much as his mama…maybe more.
I said, “This summer, buddy.”
He looked back down at his puzzle. I could see the wheels turning in his head. He looked up again and said, “I build a sandcastle. We find the seashells. I throw the bag in the pool. Mama was angry.”
Thanks for the unsolicited trip down memory lane, buddy.
Zion doesn’t typically say much unless he is requesting something.
But that little remembrance is Zion’s version of recollecting our last beach vacation, a year ago.
He doesn’t engage in conversation like typical kids. The autism somehow prevents that. I certainly don’t understand why. I’ve just learned to speak his language:
He doesn’t pipe up and say, “Hey Ma, remember the time on vacation when I got all cheesed-off and picked up your beach bag and threw it in the pool, just to be a giant wad?”
He just states it. He states what he remembers.
“I throw the bag in the pool.”
No shame. Or remorse.
Just matter of fact: This is what happened on vacation. And I’m remembering it.
He looked up again and said, “Mama was angry.”
I didn’t even look up. Yes I remember. And not proud at all of how I reacted to that mess.
He persisted, “Mama put me in time out.”
Ugh, just stab me and pour salt in it. It might hurt less.
So without further ado, ladies and gentleman, your forced flashback of the day:
It was a beautiful day in Ponte Vedra.
84 degrees and full sun.
My best friend and I had taken the kids to Mickler’s Beach to hunt for shark teeth, and decided to spend the rest of the day at the neighborhood pool.
We were the only ones there.
It was delightful.
But Zion wasn’t having it.
He wanted to stay at the house and watch movies on the iPad. (That’s back when the iPad still ruled. It is dead now. And by dead I mean I killed it. Read here and/or here if you aren’t familiar with my iPad Extraction.)
Anyway, he sat on the step of the pool chirping, looking constipated, and intermittently screaming for the better part of an hour.
I just ignored his behavior.
Problem? When Zion is ignored, he is sure to make you fully aware of his presence.
So he went over and picked up my beach bag and threw it into the pool.
In my defense, it wasn’t one of my bigger tantrums. I’ve certainly done way worse. (Remind me some time to tell you the story about the Great Chili Incident of 2002.)
This time though, I didn’t shriek or cry or throw anything breakable.
But I did lose my cool and I yelled at him, which I don’t often do.
Then I sat him down hard in a chair, and told him to stay put in time-out.
Unfortunately while he was still in that time-out, I fell asleep on my lounger…and I woke up 45 minutes later.
He hadn’t moved. He was still in time out.
And that’s on his highlight reel from our vacation?
So as I sat here this morning, stewing in my guilt, trying to figure out my topic for today’s blog…I realized…this was it.
I have tried as hard as I possibly can to create happy memories with my kids. And having a child who has autism, that hasn’t always turned out the way I planned.
I wasn’t always the seasoned delight I am today. (ha)
I have made some scenes.
Not proud of it. Then again…sometimes I am.
We have abandoned more parties and restaurant meals and shopping carts than I care to recall.
So as time has gone on and Zion has grown up, I have tried harder and harder to force him to tolerate situations that he may not be so fond of.
Silence in libraries.
Waiting his turn for the swing at the park.
Ordering something different when the fast-food place is out of chicken nuggets.
Accepting ice water at the restaurant when they just don’t carry lemonade.
Zion doesn’t like change. And when he gets something in his head, he wants it the way he wants it or not at all.
But he’s grown over the years. He’s doing better.
And parenting is hard, dontcha know.
And we love to beat ourselves up when we make mistakes.
That poolside outburst/nap was not my finest moment, by any stretch.
But Zion did straighten up.
And he’s never done it again.
What’s funny is that I haven’t thought about that moment since it happened. Yet Zion recalled it with painful accuracy and tossed it right back in my face this morning.
And just as I was about to a beat myself up just a little bit more for good measure, Zion looked up again at me and said, “It is missing.”
I looked down at Zion’s puzzle and realized that he had the entire thing put together, but there was one piece missing.
I searched the box. And the floor. It was no where to be found.
I just knew he was going to kick that puzzle across the room. But I still smiled and said, “I’m sorry buddy, you’re right. That piece is missing.”
He looked at the puzzle for a few seconds, and said, “All done puzzle.”
He pulled the pieces apart, and put them back in the box.
No tantrum. Not even a peep.
And as he carried that puzzle to the trash can, 🙂 I thought two things:
My little man is growing up.
And maybe that 45 minute poolside time-out a year ago wasn’t such a travesty after all.