Thank Goodness For Real People
I had arrived home after a very long, very frustrating commute. After a full day of working and an hour and 45 minutes on the road (one hour longer than the regularly scheduled commute), I was beat and hungry. I pulled out the left-overs from the fridge while my oldest continued his behavioral therapy. Microwaved and steaming, the half of a burrito I didn’t eat last night made my taste buds water. Just as I sat down to eat my son’s case manager sat down for a little bit of conversation over dinner.
We discussed the recent problems D had been having during behavior therapy. His behavior has been steadily declining over the last few months. She said that she and the therapists had recently met to discuss ways to remedy the problem. They thought if maybe they took some of the pressure off and we just had one of the therapists hanging out with us in the evenings, it might be a place to start. The overwhelm, which I can usually hide but struggled to disguise after a long day, crept onto my face.
Structure added to our evenings, when I am so severely structured at school sounded like more work that I couldn’t muster at 5pm. It isn’t as if things are a big free for all at our house in the evening, it’s more like there’s a general plan that shifts and changes as the evening presses on. I think of it like a ball of clay. We shape the evening out in general terms (dinner, baths, bed time stories, homework, playing, making lunches) but it doesn’t happen at a specific time or in a specific order. Like clay, we add more embellishment to our evening as our creativity allows us. Feeling as if it needed to be structured or formulaic would take the life out it.
I couldn’t say that to his case manager. She smiled and looked at me. She knew. She absolutely knew what I was thinking as I tried to explain that we’re rather free form with our evenings and that I wasn’t sure how I could incorporate someone into our regular evenings. Thankfully she came up with some more options that seemed like they would mesh better with what we’re doing in the evening and allow us to have an important role in the therapy.
As the conversation came to a close, and as I took the last few bites of burrito, she said to me, “You know, I totally understand where you’re coming from. Here I am barging into your house telling you what to do and here you are thinking, ‘I’ve already tried that, why do you keep asking me to do those same things over and over.’ It is hard to know how to advise you because you come from a similar background as me. You’re around children, you have an education in child development and here I am telling you what you already know. Many of our parents don’t have this same background and I have to remind them over and over about things,” she grinned at me, “But you–” She was interrupted by my children attacking each other and screaming.
We both sighed and I rolled my eyes and said, “Thank goodness there’s a cold beer waiting in the fridge for me.”
And I thought, thank goodness for the real people of the world. The ones who get that you aren’t perfect. The ones who know you know better, you’ve tried it, you do it but your kids still act like hooligans despite your best efforts. They understand the frustration of being an educator with a beautiful child who seems so typical sometimes that his autism comes across as a case of bad parenting. They don’t judge, they just love you no matter what… even if you plan to sip a cold one while your children scream at each other.