At the beginning of the summer, I fell. I was running in my socks to answer the phone. When I got around the corner, I slipped, like I was on ice, and tore up my knee. My son was the only one home and he comforted me. He was wonderful.
Well, you know, what they say? Like mother, like son. The other night I was typing on the laptop after the little guy had his bath. He was in his jammies and some adorable Target Snoopy Halloween socks. He was in the next room, playing with one of his 50,000 cars.
Tile. Socks. Running. Fall.
I heard the slip and the smack that followed! As I ran in there (yes, I didn’t learn my lesson either) there was that split second of silence and – scream!!! Cry!!! Yell!!! He was getting up from the corner of the doorway, with his hand up to his cheek. I scooped him up and carried him into the bedroom. He was already wailing at top volume in my ear, tears streaming down his little face.
I laid him on the bed and sure enough, there it was. Dark, purple bruising on his cheek right under his left eye. The hubs had come running in by now, and I barked orders to bring crushed ice and a towel while I grabbed some semi-cool baby wipes and held them on his face. I was being alternatively kicked in the gut, and pushed away by the feet and arms, while being rendered deaf by the screams. I held on anyway.
The ice came. I shot some ibuprofen down his throat and held the ice on his face. Have you held ice on the face of a five year old with autism? Not an easy task. It’s not like you can talk to him and get an account of how it happened. I knew anyway. There was no amount of scolding that will get through at these moments. So my best move at that point was to keep quiet and I did.
Son: “TRAIN!!! WANT A BLUE TRAIN! ORANGE!! ORANGE TRAIN! MOMMY TO GET YOU A TRAIN! DRAW A TRAIN. HERE’S THE WHEEL! (yelled while drawing a wheel on the top of my head with his fingers).”
Me: (thinking to myself but not speaking) “OMG – I hope this is not too bad! My poor baby!! Yup, that’s definitely going to be purple. Thank God it was just his cheek! OUCH! What a terrible mother I am. Why did I put these eff’ing socks on him?”
Then there would be a lull – maybe 20 seconds of silence, but when you’re at the rock concert of all meltdowns (and this one was justified because it must’ve hurt something awful), it seems like a long lull. Then, he would pick up steam, and we’d be off to the races again with yelling:
Me: “I’m so sorry, my little sweetness! Mommy is right here. It will be okay. It’s not a bad boo-boo. (thinking to myself immediately – “Oh s***! Why did I say “boo-boo”? Don’t I know the forbidden trigger words by now?)
Son: “ WUBZY!! WANNA WATCH WUBZY!! WUBZY!! (and so on…)
Wubzy is a cartoon. For some reason, which I don’t remember but I’m sure correlates with the show, he associates the word “boo-boo” with this strange yellow cartoon. Saying “boo-boo” to him generates a mad frenzy to vomit-yell “Wubzy” like a gag reflex. This mistake on my part threw gas on his meltdown fire.
To top it off, the Daddy would come in, rile up the child, leave and return to check on him. Each time he’d walk into the room, my son would amplify his tirade in a clever and successful attempt to garner further attention. I couldn’t- not attend to his face. I had to keep the ice pack on it to keep it from swelling. So with the Daddy in the room, for the 10th time in 10 minutes, this is the turn that things took:
Son: “WANT YOUR DAD!! ICE CREAM. WANT ICE CREAM… DADDY TO GET YOU BLUE ICE CREAM!! NO, WHITE! PINK!! ICE CREAM! WANNA EAT ICE CREAM? CHOCOLATE. I – LIKE- CHOCOLATE!!”
And so the Daddy left the room on orders to get some chocolate ice cream which, at the last minute was changed to “pink” (strawberry). We have no blue ice cream, nor have I seen any. As we are fully prepared parents, there is always a container of ice crystalized Neopolitan ice cream for ‘meltdown’ maintenance in our freezer.
Meanwhile, I’m still struggling to keep the ice pack on the kid’s face. I, myself, cannot stand to have the ice in one location too long. It’s just too cold. So every now and then I would take it off, look and then re-apply it, getting pushed and shoved and kicked to leave him alone. At the same time, the ice, which is in one of those freezer bags was not sealed So about a 1/2 cup of it spills onto the bed, generating this:
Son: “CLEAN!! CLEAN!! PICK IT UP!! OFF!! OFF!! MOMMY TO CLEAN!! GET A TISSUE!”
There is just so much even Mother Teresa can take.
And so the Daddy comes back in. And, my very full cup of stress? Well, it exploded. I chewed the Daddy raw about sealing the ice pack. This silenced both of them. The Daddy, knowing that I was on the battlefield while he had been on shore leave, did not really do anything to fuel both the melting down child and the PTSD mom at that moment. My son quietly said, “Want your dad.” The Daddy fed the child his ice cream and slowly, skulked away.
Very smart. Very, very smart for the Daddy. Because if we’re looking at the hill, the little guy was on top. The manager, you might say. I was in the middle, and dad? He was down at the bottom… And you know what they say about things running downhill, right?