Parenting Standards

We went to ride the Santa Train today in Strasburg.

I was tired from going to the Hobbit (I know, boo hoo for me, right?) last night.  The boys were rigid and picking on each other.

Amazingly, Nathan was the nearest to his baseline.  Which is not saying much because he bit himself at least a dozen times.

Sam was rigid and rude.  He actually lost electronics for the evening for being excessively rude and then losing control and crying because I wouldn't play the music he wanted, even though the music I was playing was something he routinely listens to.

Isaac was also very rigid.  And picking on his brothers when any sensible (read non-Aspergian) would know that he was dancing on a tight rope above the flames of brotherly conflagration.  Who knew that sensible = able to read body language and thus interpret that your actions have an effect on that?

It was an awesome day.

I actually took some time to watch some other parents there and found some differences between their style and mine.

In the bathroom there was a lady who was saying "You don't listen very well, sometimes!"  Man, do I know about not listening.  But one thing I know about it is that my kids aren't doing it on purpose.  There is a big lag between sound going in, getting through the machinery and formulating a response and then (hopefully) acting on it.  I am just as likely to say "You are having a lot of trouble listening today!"

There were a group of parents chatting while their kids threw rocks onto the mini train tracks.  Isaac thought that was a great idea.  I stopped him.  I spend a tremendous amount of time monitoring my kids and immediately (or nearly) correcting/modulating them.  Nathan was irritated and vocalizing on the train.  I was putting my hand on his mouth and actually sitting on top of him (for pressure) when another child suddenly let out a blood-curdling scream.  I felt a little better.  After that it would have taken quite a bit of commotion to top the new max decibel mark.

I critique myself about my parenting skills and lack thereof.  A lot.  I have never had an abundance of patience.  With my hormones going out of whack from peri-menopause (but of course, my periods continue) that is not any better.  I am never the person I want to be.  I may have one day I pat myself on the back and then 5 where I beat myself up.

But I also acknowledge that I have to parent at a much more intense level than parents of average kids.  People have no idea how much more work it is to take one child (or god forbid, two) to the store when they have autism.  They can't imagine that I would never consider taking my eyes off my kid.  That I have grabbed a kid running by at the periphery of my vision because I can't risk Nathan getting away.  And found out that said kid wasn't mine.  They can't imagine going for a walk with a child and bodily blocking him from repeatedly throwing himself on the grass or running into the street.

I can't imagine parenting their children.  I watch other people and think "WTF are they doing, can't they see that kid wandering closer to the road/the pool/more than 10 feet away?"  This has been the way I have ALWAYS had to parent, so it is my norm.  And I know that I am not overdoing or being overprotective.  I have evidence.

I don't resent it.  Much.  I love having kids with autism.  I love how they introduce new ideas and new ways of thinking to me.  What I want is to feel less restricted and less responsible.  To not be guilty because I go to a movie and my husband can't go.  To be able to get a sitter and go out more than once a month.

I know that selfishness seems to be a theme of my blogs.  It doesn't make me feel very evolved.  But what I know is that other parents can practice some healthful selfishness without even labeling it selfish. "We need couple time."  "The grandparents LOVE having the kids for a sleepover."  Some of those parents have kids with autism, and wonderful supportive networks.  We have A friend who, while wonderful, has a life of her own.  And a job.  I have told her we want her and a significant other to move in and co-parent with us.  We have more of a hamlet when we need a village, or a large town, to raise our kids.

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