Sunday, January 10, 2010

Whatever the hell that was

Ryan's been fighting a cold, and therefore hasn't been his usual cheerful self the last couple of days.  He's been a little more tantrum-prone, a bit more obsessed with computer games, a little more raw.  Sure, he was terrific at a birthday party yesterday (I swear, when he knocked that one boy over, it was an accident - Ryan was just dancing really really exuberantly), but he saved all the crazy stuff for us.  We're lucky like that.

Bedtime is usually sometime between 7 and 8pm - lights always out by 8.  Last night, he was clearly exhausted well before 7pm, but we were foolish and didn't start the bedtime ritual until he was falling over himself and cranky.  The weighted blanket didn't even help the first two times we tried to use it. (An aside: he totally understands the power of the blanket, and will now lie on the floor at the sight of it, as if awaiting its restorative magic.)

I asked him to take off his clothes; he did.  "Naked Boy!" he shouted in delight.  He put his clothes in the laundry basket.  I helped him put on his pajamas.  Then his mood changed without warning.

"Pants put back on!  Pants put back on!  On da shirt!" he shrieked.

He grabbed his day clothes from the laundry basket and threw them on the floor with great purpose.

"You want to sleep in your clothes?  Um, ok."  I helped him change back into his jeans.

"Aaaaaaagh!  Green pants put back on!" he wailed.  I got him back into his pajamas, and let him put the long-sleeve shirt he had worn during the day over them.  Tears and snot kept flowing.  I couldn't get him to calm down, so I tried desperately to interpret what the hell he wanted.

Then, while crying and screaming like he was on fire, he proceeded to fling every item in the laundry basket, one by one, over his shoulders and across the room.  Shirts and underwear and socks were flying out into the hallway.  Stu and I just stood there (out of the line of fire), staring at this ridiculous scene, covering our faces so he wouldn't see us laughing.  When the basket was finally empty, I was able to wrestle him into submission.  I held him in his bed, Stu covered him with the weighted blanket.  I read stories until he fell asleep.  Peace.

When he was finally quiet, I let my laughing tears turn to real tears.  I sobbed for my baby, so overwhelmed by our world, unable to tell me what he needs.  Why does it need to be so hard for him?  I'm not even sure what I mean by "it" - communicating?  Self-regulating?  Remembering the order of operations for each of the little activities that make up a day?  He works so hard trying to follow social rules that mean little to him.  He has put in so much effort over the last year to be able to speak and listen and socialize as well as he does - hours of therapy to train him to learn things the average child absorbs effortlessly.  I'd like to think I understand this kid better than anyone else, and I still don't know what he was trying to express or what he wanted.  My heart breaks for him.  I want to scoop him up and tell him I understand him, but sometimes all I can do is love him.

I cry and hope that is enough.


  1. Your love is amazing a powerful. I see that in the statement "He has put in so much effort over the last year " - he does that because he loves you, too.

  2. hey mer - i've been away from the "office" for a bit, so i'm catchin up on yr family posts...but for whatever it's worth, i've spent many years working with kids and the meltdown you described could be any of those otherwise neurotypical kids between the ages of 2 and 6 when really tired. i know ryan has his challenges with communicating his feelings - but don't feel too alone out there - somettimes we all just lose it and there are no words except for throwing clothes


Keep it civil, people.