35: My Village

35: My Village

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum

My Village

How we interact with each other in our lives — whether we are centers of peace, oases of compassion — makes a difference. The sum total of these interactions determines nothing less than the nature of life on our planet.

~Desmond Tutu

At pick-up Tuesday after school, Cuyler had what I can only describe as a meltdown of epic proportions. It hasn’t happened in a very long time.

He has meltdowns and temper tantrums. But this one was a doozy.

Something very minor set him off right before the bell rang and his anger and inability to manage got ahead of him. He took off. I had to chase him down and stop him, then figure out how to safely restrain him so I could get him back to the van. He was flailing and screaming as loud as he could for several minutes.

I was sweating, shaking, and very embarrassed. Not because of his behavior, but because I didn’t know what to do. The last time I had to deal with a meltdown like this he was smaller, lighter and weaker. Every time I thought I had a good hold, he’d flip out of my grip. Then he flipped out of his jacket. Kicking, flailing, screaming.

Finally I was able to flip him upside down, wrapping my arms around his waist with his legs hanging over my back. He was still kicking and screaming but I was in control. I forced him into his seat and belted him in.

As I drove home all I could think about was how ridiculous I must have looked trying to get the situation under control in front of all those kids and parents at dismissal. I felt inept and incompetent and could only imagine what the other parents thought.

When I got home I told my husband Sean what happened and was so proud of myself that I didn’t cry. I thought I was about to at one point, but I didn’t. I stayed strong!

After an hour or so, Cuyler was settling down.

I checked my e-mail and found things like this written on my Facebook wall and in my messages from parents:

Hugs to you. I know it wasn’t easy. I know how impressed I was with how calm you were (on the outside at least). I’m not sure I would have been.

Been thinking of you since I got home. How’s it going?

You handled that amazingly well. I saw the look in your eyes and couldn’t help but think of you all afternoon.

Everything settle down now? He ok? YOU ok?

[hugs] hope he’s ok now.

That’s my village. That’s what people were thinking as they watched. That’s what made me cry. People who care. No judgment against me or Cuyler. Simply concern and worry. Asking how they can help the next time it happens.

The comments, encouragement and cyberhugs made all the worry I had about my ability as his mother disappear. So I didn’t look like an idiot trying to parent this unpredictable little boy. I didn’t appear too rough with him. I kept my cool.

I’m not sure if they know how their positive words helped. How much they are appreciated. I am so lucky to live in the community I do. Cuyler is very lucky to have this village surrounding him.

Once Cuyler had finally settled down, he curled up in my lap, snuggling like a sick baby. He’s not a cuddler by any means but I think it was his way of saying he was sorry.

And the kisses I smattered all over his head were my way of saying “I love you no matter what.”

~Christine Coleman

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