I've been quiet this past week, thinking ... remembering a bit.
It's been almost five years since we found out our oldest child has Aspergers Syndrome.
I remember my grandpa saying to me "well, sugar ... what do you do for it?"
Yes ... what indeed.
I remember looking at my grandpa and saying "I guess love him and try to give him tools so that he can have a good life." I remember my Grandpa looking sad, not because Brady was any less, but because my life was going to look a lot different then anyone had imagined.
This is not a "poor me" post. This is simply an "Autism Today" post, in the life of our Brady Bunch. Sometimes when I'm feeling super silly I call Brayden "Brady bunch butt munch." It makes him laugh pretty hard - always music to my ears. That kid has a great laugh - it pierces every room of our house and every corner of my heart.
Brady will always want to shake and dance at the most impromptu moments ... no matter if we are in a grocery store or in our living room. He won't care what other people think about it ... he doesn't care if it embarrasses his mother that's for sure ... so I've learned to embrace it and "get down" myself.
Brady will never truly care how someone else feels. He will enjoy creating happy expressions on people's faces though. He will continue to learn cues that can help like "boy, that person is sobbing right now, maybe I could pat their back instead of telling them they are dumb ." Crying makes him nervous so he calls people dumb ... take it or leave it.
He will always come to me at 3 pm every day after his one hour rest time...get as close to me as humanly possible (as if I could miss a 60 pound boy standing next to me) and say "hello mom" as if he's been gone for days. He ALWAYS does this. I tried for awhile to explain to him that he doesn't need to greet me in the middle of the day, when we've been together all morning. For awhile it annoyed me. Now I just look at him with a smile and say "hi buddy, have a good rest?"
I'm pretty sure there will be a day in my life that he won't be there, looking at me with nervous eyes after working up such courage to say hello - and I will miss him and wish my baby was little again.
I've seen Brady bite a table after bumping into it. He doesn't appreciate things bumping into him. Brady almost always has a meltdown when he loses at Monopoly. Brady always take a hour to chew about half a cup of rice ...even when I tell him he doesn't have to eat it he looks at me with a scrunched up nose, complete disgust in his eyes, sometime a bit of drool oozing out of the corners of his mouth and spits "what? I like it!'" I don't think he does ... but I think he wants me to recognize that he's big and that he can suck it up. The other day he put tomato on his sandwich and said to me "well, they certainly aren't my favorite but they are great nutrition."
Brady's plans have changed a lot but he still is adamant that he will create a company someday that will make a lot of money and he will take me on trips. He says he will have a very beautiful wife and he will treat her nice. He says he will do some things that are romantic ... I told him she better be nice but even if she isn't , not to worry ... I'm good at being nice to people that aren't my favorite.
Brayden has a very hard time with transition...as do most children on the spectrum. Something that is always sure to cause a huge commotion in our house (not the nice kind) is when the other kids are playing a game with him and decide they are done. There generally is a lot of growling and not so nice words flying around. To be completely honest, it scares me to death. Just the other day I had finally relaxed a bit, was puttering around the kitchen and from the basement I hear this loud yelling noise and then my other child crying the "I'm hurt" cry (you know the one.) Well, thankfully no one was physically hurt but I'm pretty sure I lost a year of life with how fast I reacted trying to get down the stairs. I've given my other children advice on how to handle Brady where this won't happen .... not to make them give in to his needs but rather to give them tools to effectively communicate with their brother, and to help the general tone of our home. Brady needs a warning...even just a five minute one. "Well, why aren't you there monitoring their play?" you say. It's like this, I have what's called a "house." There are four hampers in my home that are always at least half full of dirty clothes at any given minute. There are 4 children with hungry bellies ... and oodles and oodles of dishes to be washed. I do like to make a cup of tea every now and then and sometimes I need to sit and have a good cry or even a laugh if possible. I try to monitor ... it just doesn't always work out so swell.
Tonight he and Trin were playing and after awhile he came skipping down the stairs. I asked him if he was done playing and he nodded yes. My heart stopped. Surely there was a crying squirrel girl somewhere. I was pretty sure that he and Trin has probably had some disagreement and so he said something rude and left...a pretty typical scene in the social life of my Brady boy. He says that ,no, that isn't what happened...but that Trin had given him a 15 minute warning and the game was over. My heart stopped ...where is my crying daughter? I asked if he was kind to her when the game was over and he said that he was. I asked if he had growled or anything and he said no. I said "well, pal...were you upset?!" He said "yes, in my brain." I'm pretty sure that if ones jaw could actually flop to a floor then my would have. I almost felt panicked that things had turned out so well.
I congratulated him and told him it's okay to feel upset in our brains...everyone is sometimes...what's important is that we don't act out.
It felt like a HUGE victory for Brady ... and I'm not gonna lie...for me too.
Brady went on a long drive with Zac the other day. Today I found out that they had a conversation about visiting Yellowstone (somewhere that Brady has adamantly been opposed to seeing) and Zac was finally able to explain to Brayden about geysers and why when we visit nothing should explode on us. Now...just to be clear...we aren't planning a visit anytime soon. However, one wouldn't want to plan a trip, pack the notorious snack bag, weigh down the car with 5 suitcases, four kids, 3 devices and a partridge and a pear tree ... travel for 8 hours, reach the desired destination and their kid not get out of the car, as was our previous experience to Mount Rushmore last fall. Now tonight Brayden is all fired up about going because Yellowstone will be an excellent backdrop for his Star Wars movie he's filming. Who would have thought?
As I'm writing, they just finished a game of monopoly. Trin won ... of course. She came to tell me proudly that Brady did a good job not yelling.
The kid can be peaches and cream. He can be a rainbow surprise. He can also be licorice (kind of addictive but one can never figure out why.) Brady takes everything out of me. At the end of everyday, many times the beginning, I feel completely spent emotionally. He's up and down all day - I never know from moment to moment if there is going to be a blow up, a dance party, a lecture on different breeds of cats, or a wall being karate chopped accidentally. I don't know if Spiderman or Charlie Chaplin is going to walk down my stairs ... I don't know if it's a "jersey drawing day" or a "I'm mad at the world" day ... not because he cares about the world but because the world in his head is so overwhelming. It's very conflicting and there's good reason that my grey hair count has grown exponentially the last couple of years.
I have not been a perfect parent and probably never will be. If a kid almost as big as me growls and lunges at me I don't think I will ever think clearly enough to NOT push him away. Let me tell you about the guilt one feels when they have pushed their child and they fall on the ground, confused. I think when Brady gets that upset his mind just goes in a whirlwind, he doesn't rationally understand that he was going to hurt me, and now I'm the attacker. It makes me feel horrible. I generally have a long talk with him which he tunes out...not because he has an attitude but because his ADHD is so bad that he's thinking about when his favorite inventor died and not about his mom crying and feeling horrible about herself. All that to say, I wish that my first reaction would always be to put him in the special "hugging hold" but my mind won't go there. Later I flip myself off and say "duh, that's what I was suppose to do" but I'm learning that that isn't a good place to take up residence. Living in the "I was suppose to" doesn't help really anyone. Strangely enough though, even though Brady and I have had our ups and downs and all arounds ... we are pretty chummy and I think I'm his best friend. I say "I think" because he doesn't recognize what a best friend is necessarily ... but I'm it. I am his biggest and loudest and most fierce cheerleader. I am the one that tells him how it is so that he won't have to be hurt when he finds out later. I have given him every single tool that he has in his pocket - sometimes i had to stuff them in their repeatedly...but he's actually beginning to reach for them himself. I love him like no other person will ever love him. I'm a little upset that I might have to go sit with him through four years of college so that he can build his "mass company" but if it gets me to Italy someday then I'm all in.
My Brady is doing fine.
Life is different ...and I understand my grandpa's sad look. Probably one of the biggest reasons I'm a preacher of gratitude is because I've found that's the only way to bring joy into a somewhat impossible journey. Brady brings a lot of joy. There have many times that tears have streamed down my face from happiness. It's a mess really ... hour to hour always feeling different ... never having anything consistent except for a 3 pm greeting. But, my Brady is doing fine...he's growing and he's a wonderful person and I can see the wonderfulness ... and that's the ticket...seeing the gold instead of the grime. Thanks for listening dear readers and for caring about my Brady Bunches. When you see an Ireland flag or have a cup of tea...or look at the apple symbol...I would greatly appreciate a little prayer that goes something like this "Father ... help precious Brayden to learn to communicate with others, to delight in his life, and to have a calm brain today. Stop the noise." If you're extra generous and have the time you could also add "and let his mama lean on You for support...you're the only that can help. Oh...help her find a natural mood stabilizer"