The clinical and cuddly dad

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 15, 2015, 9:17 PM | comments: 0

I don't think that we could state in any clearer terms that Simon has been a bit of a handful lately. He's just being 5 (or maybe 4, getting to things late). With school ending, it's more difficult because he isn't someone else's problem for 7 hours of the day. Well, that, and he was rarely a problem for other people anyway. He has reserved that honor for his beloved parents.

I'll be the first to admit that I've been getting it wrong. I can blame life, work or whatever, but I've been reacting emotionally to the actions of a tiny human. He's not being a dick, he's just being a kid. Yelling at him just makes it OK for him to do that to me, and it doesn't really come with any consequences. I've gone into clinical mode, responding very much in the way that his therapist (the good one) did last year. I'm prepared for the fact that this will lead to meltdowns that mostly he has to cope with, and so far I think that's working. But I've also discovered that there are some instances where they're not meltdowns, but they are in fact conventional tantrums. I've described the difference before, where a meltdown is really the product of him being incapable of reconciling the actions and consequences as logical (a typical ASD thing), while a tantrum fishes for attention and he checks in to see if we're responding. There are a lot of tears, and I've really pushed him to the point of taking him entirely out of whatever he was doing, carrying him to his room. It isn't pleasant, but I wonder if he's understanding that talking back and refusing to do what we ask is a poor choice.

On the flip side of this, he still prefers mom, but he's really trying to cuddle a lot lately, especially when he's tired. Yesterday, I was sprawled out on the couch upstairs where he was playing, and he literally climbed on top of me, asked for a blanket, and fell asleep. Today while playing, I was sitting with my legs crossed, and he just kind of plopped into my lap and put his head down and arms around me. Then at bed time, I laid down with him briefly, and he pulled my arm across him and fell asleep within a few minutes. I really love moments like these, and understand they won't last much longer. It's also reassuring that he still likes me, despite often playing the role of ultimate disciplinarian. Not that he wouldn't like me exactly, but I think keeping a close relationship with him is going to be tricky.

Being a parent is exhausting. I don't think it's getting easier, it's just getting different.


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