“You are so MEAN! Agghhh!”
I turned my body to the side and lifted my leg up by instinct to block the blow of punches that began to fall.
“Declan, it’s okay.” I said with squinted eyes in my defensive position.
“No it’s NOT! I want the APP!”
“Declan, we will try to get the app!”
“Aggh!” he yells and begins to run off.
I reach and I grab the first thing I can. I get a handful of his shirt to stop his forward progress and find his wrist to hold as he lurches forward.
“YOU ARE HURTING ME!”
“Declan, I’m not trying to. Please settle. It will be okay.”
I let go of his hand and make sure his body is in front of mine.
“No it’s NOT!” The screams continue.
The battle started five minutes earlier. When he saw another person had an app on their device that took a picture of themselves – then they could do funny things with the picture. Declan was enamored.
Declan wanted the app. He wanted it NOW. Even though he didn’t have his device. And his device can’t do the pictures. But there was no way I was going to tell him the second part.
For those previous five minutes, I had been chasing him up and down the lengths of a soccer field. Thankfully at this point the soccer game was over.
Truly unfortunate though, it was the time that all the cars were beginning to leave. And in his total focus on THE APP, he was no longer aware of his surroundings.
My entire focus had become trying to stop him from running into the parking lot. Cars were everywhere. It was unsafe.
I was a body shield. I was trying to surround his meltdown and keep him contained. As he cried and lamented not having this APP right now, I was trying to keep him contained with the least amount of contact possible.
“Agggghhhh!!!” He yelled and the punches began again. I pulled myself into a standing ball to protect myself. As he began to try to kick me, he fell.
I stood over him to be sure he was physically okay. Holding his head, he cried some more.
I saw my husband across the field as he talked to another parent and motioned for him to come over. As he started his approach, Declan stood.
Declan shook his head back and forth and screamed, then he lunged to the side.
I grabbed his shirt and gained access to his wrist again. I held tight as Declan pulled. Cars were still moving.
It was then that it happened. As Declan was screaming and pulling I looked up and saw the eyes. Sitting in a passenger seat of a parked car directly in front of us. Waiting for all the inhabitants to get inside so they, like all the rest of the cars, could drive away.
The eyes darted away when they saw mine. I wondered what they saw.
I mean, I can guess what the eyes saw. But what did they really SEE. What did they really KNOW.
A temper tantrum or a meltdown? A spoiled child or a child having a hard time? An abusive mother or a mother trying to keep her child safe?
I will never know. And it is one thing in the world of autism I have been able to overcome. I don’t care what those eyes may have determined about what they saw.
Declan was safely taken to a car to de-escalate.
And that is what really matters. He was safe.