Less than ten hours ago, my little three year old had been having a very rough day. They happen here and there, and oftentimes, I cannot figure out the initial source of the problem, so to speak. Maybe for the small, autistic child, the trigger can be as simple as not enough sleep, or as big as a series of frustrating, unvocalized events.
But for now, my sweet little one is sleeping peacefully in my bed. I think all children have the countenance of angels when asleep, but his face seems more at peace than my others.
Yesterday was just a frustrating day for him. I also made the mistake of taking him to Michael’s craft store before lunch and naptime. I put him in the cart and all was well… until we got to the checkout line. It was there that he fixated on some giant letters and had to have them. I had forgotten to buckle him into the cart, and suddenly found myself scrambling to keep him from a nasty fall. He saw the letters and had to have them…
With a baby strapped to me, I tried to wrangle my very strong, and now determined child. Getting him back into the cart was impossible at this point. And keeping him upright quickly became impossible too. He threw himself to the floor while I held to his arm. He screamed as if someone was hurting him. The line around me was awkwardly silent. Only The little boy in front of us spoke – he told his mommy that my child was being a very bad boy.
I should have just left. I’ve done it many times before… stores, appointments, other places… but selfishly, I was also determined to make my purchase. And I did, with much difficulty and more awkwardness from the lady checking me out.
We made it out of the store, but getting him into the car seat was another battle. This child is strong. Once he was in, he sat there sucking his thumb, his breathing heavy and labored. I put the baby in and helped my daughter in, then I sat down. To collect myself. To breathe. I was shook up as much as the child in the seat behind me.
But when I looked back at him, there was something that makes me cry as I write this and as I look at him still sleeping peacefully… his eyes were calm, not wild as one may assume after such a struggle. In fact, it was through those beautiful, calm and peaceful eyes that he spoke to me without saying a word. I can’t really describe it… maybe another mommy out there has experienced something similar. But it was almost a look of relief. He wanted out of that store as much as I wanted to disappear from it. He was safe and calm in our car now, despite his fight to get there.
We sat a few more minutes, just looking at each other without me saying a word. He kept perfect eye contact. And when he finally turned away to look out the window, I knew he had “said” enough, and we could drive away.