Monday, November 5, 2012

Daisies in the Walkway

Today was a rough day for both girls - its the day after Daylight Savings. Where the rest of the world is an hour earlier than their little bodies are. Maggie's internal clock went off today right on time, and she roused me awake an hour earlier than she needed to be. Confused and getting angry with me, I finally conceded and got up to feed her breakfast an hour earlier than normal, taking everything as slow as possible so as to not upset her morning routine more than necessary.

Winnie tried her best to stay in bed, but just couldn't, and followed us out to the kitchen shortly after.

The rest of getting ready went much the same, slow paced, but something a little "off" and I knew they'd be fighting the whole day to keep it together, and by the end of the day they'd have had it - their bodies having given up an hour earlier than school let out.

At 2:30, when the bus backed into my driveway and the doors squeaked open, the driver's face told all as she turned to me to impart that they'd both had a rough ride. She wasn't sure what was wrong, but they had a hard time getting either child to get on the bus at all.

Both girls quickly bounded off the bus, although their movements let me know they were certainly exhausted. Winnie flopped on the grass and waited for me to clear the bus steps, then lept at me, clinging to me and growling like a little beast - I hugged her tight and held her too me as Maggie loudly began her neverending speech about anything and everything - a trait she has to try to keep under control all day at school. I looked down at Maggie and nodded as she spoke, then whispered to Winnie, asking her what animal she might be pretending to be. Normally when she was upset or had an angry emotion, an animal is what she turns herself into - prowling and growling with gnashing teeth and extended claws. Usually asking her about the animal she's portraying calms her and gives her something else to think about - Not this time. She ignored me a few times, and then growled out that she wasn't an animal, she was just a Winnie, and an angry Winnie.

My heart sank. I wouldn't be able to help today like I usually do. I wouldn't be able to snap her out of this as before. It was a rough day, and it wasn't over yet.

After some prodding, Maggie let me know that she was just tired and cranky, and Winnie had a new "teacher helper" that didn't do what she'd expected. And anything that doesn't go as expected, is pretty catastrophic in her day. She can tolerate someone new usually, she's learning to cope with that - but working all day and not getting the expected result, she pretty much flew off the handle.

Winnie's greatest desire at this moment was to go to the Dollarstore - and Maggie just needed to be alone.

We went to the Dollarstore, while Maggie stayed home with Grandma to try to calm down. Winnie and I also ended up getting some chicken nugget supper at A&W (a big step from the days when it was only McDonald's that was acceptable.). As she sat there reciting an entire episode from a Netflix documentary about reptiles, I was reminded of when this was all she said. Doing this, repeating, reciting, being lost, was all she did.

My heart ached and I wanted to cry. I sat in this public place, looking at my child with love and affection, nodding as she spoke as though I was listening, and all the while, my heart was breaking. We've come so far, and yet, days like this can set it all back. Days like this make me realize that although she can hide it, she will always be autistic. She will never be cured, she will only learn to cope. Just like everyone, she will have hard days where her defenses and guards and coping skills will be lost to her, and she'll be lost to us.

Maggie is the same, in her own way - her defiances are her own way to keep order in her world. When she's struggling hardest, is when she is most defiant.

Some days we glide through, always conscious of the hurtles and the issues - but some days are like a shower in ice water and I struggle just to breathe. And then we get through it, and they smile at me again, the far away look gone from their eyes. A moment of clarity that makes all the difference and almost erases the bad day. Some days Autism is like the meter maid that's fining you for getting back to your car late. You're mildly annoyed. Some days, Autism is like the Repo Man who puts the lock on your house - you're overwhelmed and devastated  And some days, Autism is just that funny quirk that your child has that makes you smile - the screen that their personality shines through like a happy daisy creeping through the stones in an elaborate walkway.

Somedays. Someday. Today. I'm glad its over.

Winnie and Maggie ended the day splendidly and seem no worse for the wear, just tired. It was a hard one, but something we've overcome before, and will do again. I'm happy that days like today are fewer and farther between than in the past. :)