This Saturday was one of those days that have to be consigned to the parenting dustbin.
One of those really crappy days that seem to last for an eternity and that you can’t ‘shake yourself out of’ no matter how hard you try.
Hey, they happen right?! Not a lot you can do about it.
I won’t bore you too much with the details, except to see it involved a long-planned meet-up with a group of good old friends, a particularly lovely toddler virus, an epic tantrum and the depressing realisation that on some occasions you have to accept that you probably won’t be leaving the house for the next 12 hours.
Now I don’t know about you but since becoming a parent my social life has not so much reduced as dramatically nose-dived.
It’s one of the secrets that you don’t really grasp until reproducing. And then you realise that actually both you and the other half making it to the cinema down the road at the same time with no children sick, screaming or guilt-tripping you into cancelling is a major achievement. In fact a cause for whooping at bemused sales assistant while ordering the popcorn.
Anyway, the point is that when you have something in the diary or scrawled on the kitchen wall planner that you’ve been looking forward to for a while, it stings even more when you have to cancel.
So far not so earth-shattering, but since Blue-eyed boy was officially diagnosed with ‘The A Word’ it’s come to our attention that the acceptance of the odd dustbin day is going to become increasingly likely.
We’re learning new things every day about ASD, and one simple fact is that our little man could very well find social situations large, small and everywhere in between a real struggle for the rest of his life.
I imagine it’s a bit like the nerves you get walking into a job interview. One of the really scary variety with a panel of people sitting across a desk from you.
ASD affects how people communicate with others and how they deal with others socially, and little things that you and I simply take for granted – like being able to read someone’s body language, tone of voice or facial expressions – can become huge obstacles to people on the spectrum.
Blue-eyed boy is working very hard, and us with him, to help him understand, process and use language, never mind learning to interact with others and cope with new and potentially scary social situations. It’s all a rather tall order for a two-year-old but our little fighter is coping brilliantly and taking everything in his stride.
We never doubted that he would.
In return, as well as resolving not to fall into the parent trap of comparing ourselves to others, I’m learning that looking further ahead than a few days or weeks is really not going to be helpful.
The best piece of advice I’ve read from another parent of a child with autism, is that living in the moment is all you can really do without going crazy.
Of course putting it into practice is much harder. I’m a planner, an organiser, a self-confessed perfectionist and I like to know not just what’s immediately ahead of me, but way round the corner as well.
Well the simple fact is that I have no idea whether Blue-eyed boy will ever ‘talk normally’, whether he’ll find it really hard to make friends as he grows up, whether he’ll be accepted socially by his peers along with his little quirks (as I like to think of them) and how he’ll cope with people realising that yes, he is different, but that’s what makes him so unique and special.
And I have to learn to accept that.
Lesson three, of becoming a parent with a child with ASD, has fortunately been a lot easier to stomach.
Namely that if you have good friends who understand, or try to, about our lovely boy’s condition, who accept, embrace and also love him for who he is, it makes this strange, new world a hell of a lot easier to navigate.
What we’re also learning is that we’re surrounded by an amazing group of people who not only ‘get it’, but love and cherish our charming little man along with us and are rooting for him all the way.
And we, and he, are SO lucky to have them.