School Year’s Resolution

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Traditionally, on New Year’s Eve most of us make our resolutions…whether it be to drop those extra pounds, quit smoking or drinking, or to start exercising (I know these all so well because I have made each and every one of them at some point) with no real intentions of carrying through on them. I’ve generally found it’s best not to make life altering decisions while drunk and wearing a foil tasseled party hat. Okay, maybe it’s unfair to generalize, but even my best attempt at carrying through on a resolution usually fails by mid January. Personally, I prefer to resolve giving up something I already don’t like…I mean why knowingly sentence yourself to failure? Yep, as of midnight, no more Liver-n-Onions for this girl. Therefore I have resolved to do away with the entire idea of abiding to some drunken promise made at the start of each new year. Instead, I have soberly opted to extend my time frame for self betterment to the start of the school year…after all, how is one supposed to achieve success at anything with 3 children underfoot, undoing everything that has been done and then some?? Especially if 2 of those kids are constantly using me as a tool, as autistic children often do. Don’t get me wrong, I am successful at keeping them all alive, fed, sorta clean and mostly safe, but anything beyond that…eh, not so much.

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Now that the school year is in full swing, I find myself desperately trying to adhere to some sort of normal schedule. For my one ultimate “school year resolution” is structuresweet and simple, right? Hmph…nothing is ever simple here in the house of chaos. I have these glorious aspirations of getting all 3 kids to school each morning and gettin’ things done! Exercise, chores, errands and paperwork could be done in peace and quiet. I’d shower every day (Greedy? Perhaps). I would be ready for the return of the children after school with snacks prepared (yeah, maybe I’ll even be wearing an ironed linen dress and string of pearls too). Next, bring on the therapists; Occupational and Speech! I’m waiting with a fresh pot of coffee and the children dressed and ready. (Understand, the “dressed” part in an autism house is not as easy as it may sound. My therapists expect coffee and nudity when they come to my house; I am of course referring to the boys, not myself.) And then, by day’s end, everyone is tucked in their own bed and fast asleep by 10pm, MYSELF included. “Night John Boy”, cue the music and roll the credits. That scenario is and shall remain pure fiction, because autism, in its need for scheduling and structure, seldom allows for scheduling or structure.

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Instead, 3 weeks into this new school year, it’s gone something like this…Mostly sleepless nights, where we fight to get autism to stop moving long enough to process that it is indeed tired and physically requires sleep. One by one, the children finally succumb to the epic bedtime battle, usually within a mere 3 hours of each other. After a brief nap on an available dry corner of an otherwise urine soaked bed somewhere in my house, I drag my cranky disposition out of bed. Morning prep in our house is an lengthy process when dealing with the auties, since they have virtually no self help skills. This means we feed, clean, dress, and brush them from head to toe, while they physically and emotionally fight us the entire time.

First stop…wake up the girl child. She quickly pours me a heaping cup of attitude, because she is always tired from the late night antics that occur in a house with autism (like guttural screams at 2am, repeated door opening/closings, strobe lighting, and occasionally one will even crawl in bed with her). Next stop…the little one, who immediately upon seeing me says, “Go to sleep”, “My tummy” or “Head hurts”. He has figured out the sick card, and he won’t hesitate to play it…every single weekday. Yes Harry, I’m proud that you are trying to manipulate me; you are clearly my child, but you’re still going to school today. Whether or not you stay there depends on how convincing you are with your teacher and school nurse, since you also recently learned how the clinic works (in fact, I’m pretty sure they have me on speed dial). I admit, I’m beaming with pride as only an autism parent would.

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By this time, the big one has heard the commotion and is keen to what is about to happen…school. He spends his morning shadowing my every step, attempting to thwart my efforts of getting him to school. This includes, but is not limited to, hiding his clothes, shoes and backpack; locking himself in the bedroom; hijacking my phone and putting it in bed (because he knows it’s an extension of my hand, and where it goes I will follow). This exhausting game ensues until I finally push him out the door and onto the bus. As I stand on the sidewalk smiling and waving goodbye to their tear stained faces pressed against the bus window, I head back into the house, breathing a sigh of relief… knowing I don’t have to see them again for 7 hours, and they will surely be more learned and smiling when they return. With the school bus safely out of view, I wearily return to the dry corner of the bed from whence I came and sleep right up until the kids come home. So, I guess it’s fair to say that thus far, my entire “school year resolution” idea is about as successful for me as the unsuccessful New Year’s resolution….perhaps I’ll sleep on it.

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