So it continues. We were having the most wonderful Sunday. Martin made it through his first visit to a new Sunday School class for children ages 6 and 7. We went out for breakfast afterward. Martin ate lots of pancakes and was polite to the waitress who served us. In the afternoon, we took a long hike in a local park. Martin climbed fallen trees, found old bird feathers, and gathered some acorns. It was all so lovely.
Then we went to our Sunday evening dinner group. And I must admit some of my own mistakes here. I was watching Martin’s sister and also trying to eat, so I didn’t always have my eyes on Martin. I noticed a few times that he was flustered about sharing some balls that he and other kids were kicking around the yard. I saw that the play was fairly rough and tumble. Martin took a whack in the face from another child. Then he delivered one in return. I took him aside for a time out, mostly hoping that he could cool down. Things didn’t go as planned.
Martin refused to sit down. He kept jumping up at me and flailing his arms. Hoping to get him away from other people, I took him to a small side room. There, things got worse. He started to kick me. I couldn’t get him to sit in a chair for even a moment. He even spit at me, which was a new low. He was utterly out of control. Since my husband was at a meeting, I had to ask another man at the group to hold Martin for me. I couldn’t manage him myself.
Being held by someone other than a parent made Martin even more mad, or afraid, or something. I left the room, trying to figure out what to do. Within minutes, I decided that we should just go home immediately. I went back to the side room to get Martin and asked if he was ready to walk to the car. He said that he was, but he was still crying. He told me that he didn’t want to be held, that he just wanted to go home. We did go home. I cleaned up his face. We ate some cereal together. And then he laid beside me in bed. Soon he started to hide under the covers, pretending to be in a chrysalis. He emerged as a butterfly, flapping his arms with a big smile on his face. For him, it was as if the events of the hour before hadn’t happened. I, however, can’t seem to forget that my kid spit on me.
I used to think that we were working toward something called “better.” But I’m beginning to think that such a notion is only a set-up for a letdown. Every success Martin has leads to more integration with the “normal” world. And most of his new encounters with “normal” have not gone well. I know we have to keep challenging Martin to try new things, otherwise he’ll never progress. But this process sometimes makes me think that we’re destined for intermittent and never-ending experiences of disaster. Every new encounter is a potential trauma for him, and therefore, for us.
Some days I feel strong enough for it. Yesterday and today, I don’t.
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