The Hard Lessons

Hard Lessons From: Happy Aspies

You know how you get where you are going only to realize that you forgot something you really need? It sucks doesn’t it? I mean, sometimes it is no big deal. You turn around, you get what you need and no one gets hurt.

So often, though, it goes something like this. You get where you are going, realize you forgot something, turn around to get it while listening to what sounds like the world coming to an end in the backseat, get home, retrieve what you need and then watch, completely dumbfounded, as your children fall apart at the seams.

Today had been challenging enough. Wolfie went to bed late last night and woke up at 5:30 am. He had jelly legs, which is what I call the way he kind of goes limp and presses into me,  and a demanding attitude by 7:00 am which was my first clue that the day would challenge both of us. He woke up so early in part because today was the day he would be working with Grandad at his business.

He takes this job very seriously as we all found out yesterday when Grandad had to change the schedule for Wolfie’s time at the office due to a meeting. His normal time to work is Tuesday and Thursday mornings. NOT Fridays. There weren’t any meltdowns, just a stern reminder to Grandad, given by Wolfie,  that the schedule is very important.

By 7:00 this morning he was dressed in a nice shirt with a tie, blue jeans, his dress shoes and his favorite 4 gel pens in his shirt pocket. Ready for the day. Or the morning anyway.

The afternoon has been a completely different story. We have been experiencing a lot of thunderstorms lately and he has come to associate a cloudy sky with the impending doom of a storm. It is overcast. It’s not particularly hot. We are headed to the pool anyway. I knew we wouldn’t survive another day at home and I just wanted to get out for awhile.

Putting our suits and sunscreen on was  filled with silliness that could have turned into straight up violence between both boys. And lots and lots of potty talk.

There are few things that I dislike more than potty talk. The problem is, I have children who don’t give two hoots what I say when they are in the throes of silliness and on the verge of complete insanity. Somehow we managed to get all the way to the pool without anyone getting seriously injured.

When I realized that I only had one water wing for Hammy I had a fleeting thought. “Maybe we don’t really need the water wings.” Hindsight is always 20/20. We should have gone in and dealt with not having the water wing. He needs to learn eventually, right? We’d most likely be having a blast on the lazy river and for once in many days there is NO thunder. I wish I would have listened to that voice.

We live only three minutes from the pool, so it didn’t take long for me to get into the garage and get the water wing that was left behind. I turned around to get back in the car and see that Wolfie is out of the car, slamming the door, and announcing as he is walking into the house that he is not going to the pool today.


So I, in a desperate attempt to regain control, offer the choice of either going to the pool or spending the rest of the afternoon in his bedroom. I really wanted him to choose the pool so I repeated this choice many times. He made things worse for himself by closing the door and locking me out of the house. Yep. It got that bad.

When things like this happen I wish I could hit the rewind button. All afternoon I have been asking myself,” Why didn’t we just stay at the pool?”

I remembered that one of the other doors was not locked and I got into the house within a minute. The look on his face was one of pure astonishment. It was like I had performed some incredible magic trick. He still doesn’t know how I got in the house. Who knows what he planned on doing with me locked out of the house. Probably not much.

Teaching the hard lessons of life is hard on everyone in our house. Growing up, I always had the sense that life was hard for just me, the child.  My parents just didn’t understand, I thought. Of course, now that I am a parent I realize how hard it must have been for them. My kids are very different from me, but in many ways I can identify with their frustrations. I see a little bit of me in everything they do.

“I want to hear people say that I do the RIGHT thing!” He yelled this in my face. “I am always doing the wrong thing.”

This frustration that he feels is isolating for him. The lesson that we make choices with our actions and our behavior is hard to teach and so hard for him to understand. I told him about all the things that he does right. There are so many of those things. So many ways that he makes people smile. So many ways that he has made me a better person.

Always at the end of a hard time he starts sharing his feelings. He was not happy about going to the pool because it doesn’t have an indoor option for rainy days and he doesn’t want to hear thunder. Why didn’t we join a pool with that choice, he wants to know. “There are too many things going on at the pool and I might not be able to handle it.”

That’s it. That’s the reason we didn’t go to the pool today. I just didn’t know it until he said that.

Stephanie Stewart
I don’t have asperger’s syndrome, but I am married to a man who does and we have two wonderful little boys. Our oldest son, Wolfie, is seven and has asperger’s syndrome.
Stephanie Stewart


I don’t have asperger’s syndrome, but I am married to a man who does and we have two wonderful little boys. Our oldest son, Wolfie, is seven and has asperger’s syndrome.

0 thoughts on “The Hard Lessons

  • August 2, 2009 at 8:45 am

    @radicalramblings@xanga – This is a good idea. What I have been doing is using large beach towels and draping them over the loungers to create a den of sorts. Aslo, we started sitting in a different spot with fewer chairs and going to the pool in the late afternoon when most of the crowds are leaving. That has helped a lot.

    @keystspf@xanga –  We bought him an ipod shuffle when he was in kindergarten to use at school. He still uses it and it is great! I think it is one of the best things we have ever done for him. It is so mobile and small and works anywhere! 🙂

  • August 1, 2009 at 11:03 am

    @radicalramblings@xanga – That’s a really cool idea, if you ask me. They do make the ones that spring open and fold flat… That wouldn’t help with thunder, but usually thunder means leaving the pool anyway.

    As far as tuning out the noise of the pool, one easy, but not exactly cheap (in my book anyway) way to do that is get an MP3 player and load it with stuff that he likes to listen to… it could be anything… and get a good pair of noise cancelling headphones. An acceptable pair runs about $30… I would recommend going to a good audio store and seeing if they will let him try them out before you buy them. If he has ever had trouble with the headphones for a hearing test, they may bother him a bit until he gets used to them. The noise cancelling headphones are good though because they don’t require high volume in order to “drown out” the background noise.

    Personally I like doing this better than just wearing ear plugs. I’ve been doing it since I was about twelve or thirteen. I still carry the little ear bud headphones around in my pocket along with my phone which has an MP3 player built into it. I’ve put everything from music to audio books to language lessons on it. You can get audio books on CD at most libraries, and then “rip” them onto your computer and download them onto the MP3 player. (If you have qualms about copywrite laws, just delete it off the computer and MP3 player after you return the CDs to the library.) I suggest an MP3 player rather than a portable CD player simply because it is easier to carry, uses less battery power, you don’t have to carry CDs around if you finish one… there are a lot of reasons. You can also rip music off of CDs you already own and just add favorite songs rather than having to have the whole CD and skip the songs you don’t like.

  • July 31, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    This might sound stupid.  I’m sorry if it does.  I don’t even know how old your kids are… but… my thought when I read this was this.  Can you get a cheap, small, easy-to-set-up child’s tent that can be set up somewhere near the pool, that he can go sit in if he needs to get away from all of the activity at the pool?  


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