“I want to watch Toy Story.”
There he stands, with a DVD around his finger, waiting, looking at me.
“Okay, I will put it on. Wait – this is Disc 2 with the special features. We need Disc 1 with the movie.”
“I want to watch Toy Story.” Declan doesn’t know his numbers yet. Nothing I just said meant anything to him.
“I know you do. We need to find the other disc. Let’s go look.”
I search high, I search low. The Toy Story 1 disc wasn’t in any of our DVD spots.
“I want to watch Toy Story.”
“Declan, I cannot find the disc.”
“It right here. I want to watch it!”
“I WANT TO WATCH TOY STORY!”
What do I do? The screaming will lead to crying and it will last all day. Any plans I had to do anything besides safe guard Declan will be thrown out the window.
There are days that my patience is completely fried after being tested all day. Somehow I have to find more.
When I go online and I look for “Patient Parenting” tips I see ideas like, “sleep!” “talk to your kids and let them know you are having a tough day” “have them help out around the house” or “take a mommy time out.”
And I look at Declan and realize I cannot do any of those things. Declan has a sleep disorder and can be up all night. Declan’s brain doesn’t work in a way that I can reason with him. And there is no way I could ever leave him alone and take a “time-out.” My goodness, some days I wish I could!
Here is what I can do
We aren’t going to be able to do anything effective if I am not calm. Deep breathing seems like such a cliche, but really, it slows everything down. Keeps the heart rate steady. When I am a calm parent, I am an effective parent.
Parent like the windows are open
Sometimes, if I am really frustrated it helps for me to think of someone watching me parent. Like my child’s therapist. I do not want to be the lazy parent, that takes the lazy way out. I want to do the right thing. What would my child’s therapist say to do? So sometimes I imagine all the windows are open when I am frustrated as if my child’s therapist is watching me, listening to me. So I stay on point, calm and focused.
Listen to music
Declan is 5 and although we are on year 3 of potty training, we are not there yet. Now, almost every suggestion of using the potty involves screaming, running and hitting. So, I turn on the music. FOR ME. Ear plugs go in and I keep the beat in my head. I get through the screaming and make another attempt. Calmly.
When I am calm, I can think of a solution. Once I have taken my deep breath I can figure out some sort of plan B. Sometimes there is no acceptable solution, and I am going to have to accept the trial ahead. Once I accept it though, it is so much easier to get through those arduous moments.
Realize my kids are dealing with something
Autism is not a learned behavior or a choice for them. Autism is not an inability for them to willingly control themselves.
I know this, but sometimes I become self involved. When I take a step back and see things from their little eyes, I can become better focused.
One of my favorite things Declan says to me goes like this:
“I like you, Mommy.”
“I like you too, Declan.”
“I like your heart.”
“I like your heart too, Declan.”
Those words help me the most when I am looking for patience.