Hate Is A Strong Word For An 11 Year Old!

These first days of middle school have been rough to say the least. Problems were written on the board for them to copy down & answer. He copied the first one down & answered, then the second, then the third, then class was over. Did we copy all the problems down first then go back an answer them? Nope! Already we are having a mix of homework misplaced, not done, or hidden as to not have to cut into his personal time at home.

After finding some of the work hidden in the back of his binder & him coming clean that he hid it as to not have to do it we had a little bit of a blow out & that included punishment but after that it seemed as though we were doing good. That is until I found work as well as a weekly progress report showing missing work with a note from his teacher that didn't make it out of his bag. Its so hard because I know some of it is Autism & some of it is 11 year old boy but those two mesh together so much its hard to tell what is one or the other. So needless to say we came to blows (put down the phone, stop calling DHS, not those kind of blows!) There was an unabashed conversation about his inability to carry much of any of his own responsibilities, there was a calling out of his failure to do work that is required even if he thinks he shouldn't have to do it, & there were tears! Whats the last thing you want to do to a kid with autism before you send him to middle school… pretty much everything I just said I did but what are you going to do!?! At some point you see him getting older & realize he is that scary in between that terrifies me! He is so high functioning that he can do these things but he still has flippin' autism so these things are sometimes ridiculously hard for him to do or understand but again at the same time he has to be prepared for high school, college, life, a job, & an unforgiving society that in most cases would rather eat him alive than cut him a break.

When he got home we backed off a bit & tried to just help with work but give lots of support. Trying to stay consistent in our approach is one of the hardest parts because with any other kid you would be like
'okay, this isn't working lets switch it up' & that will just confuse this kid. I knew this was all coming, I knew that autism was a rock, middle school was a hard place, & we would eventually get stuck in-between them but I just didn't think it would happen this fast. All this I can handle! All these things I can swallow! All these things you have just read we can overcome. That is after I'm able to get over what we founding his school folder:

Let me tell you, I sat & watched them Emmy's last night just to see if they called my name because I feel like I should get some kind of award for me performance as 'Dad who comes at the situation with an even hand despite their heart being ripped out of my chest' My wife handled it better than I did but we had a talk about hate, parents, self pity, responsibility, growing up, & more. With any luck we've made some progress but you can't know until you let it ride to see. I know the kid doesn't hate me. I know that we will get through all this. I know that he will be able to take on all this new stuff but knowing all that doesn't mean any of it comes easy.

Back To School Day 2, Okay The Honeymoon's Over

Remember that time a long time ago… like… yesterday, when I posted about what an awesome day he had on the first day of middle school & everything was gonna be just fine? You remember that? Yeah, the dad who wrote that is gone. Today he got kicked in the face by reality & then Autism stepped on his rose color glasses of optimism. I'm back in charge now. Regular ol' cynical Tom that is not so much a glass half full guy but not really a glass half empty guy either, more of a I spilled my glass in my lap & now it looks like I peed on myself kinda guy!

When my son got home today he was so overwhelmed & over stimulated as he tried to tell us about his day no words would come out. I sat on the couch listening to him make groaning noises like he was physically trying to push the words out of his mouth three or four times then two words would come out then groaning then two words & so on. We haven't been to that place in a long time but let me tell you it was a big punch in the gut. Probably a good one to be honest with you. I may have needed a wake up to the fact that YES we are back in school, YES you do need to get your 'A' game back out of the back of the closet & lace up your boots because it's about to get real. Not to say he had a bad day but it was obviously a lot to take in & with it being only the second day of school I'm sure the teachers, staff, & special education teachers are trying to normalize themselves as well as learn their new kids. So I'm really just at a time where all we can do is decompress him as best as we can & send him back into the lions den as prepared as he can be.

 Any time we are off school be it for summer, spring break, or even Christmas break the first week (sometimes month, I know you feel THAT pain) is the real test of a parents mental capacity. Summer is a special kind of hell though because at least with the other times you know the environment they are stepping into & have a dialog. Back to school time is just a waiting game. My head tells me "You have to give HIM time, you have to give THEM time, & you have to just be there for anything that's needed" but my Dad-ness tells me "Lets take a mulligan this week, get some grilled cheese sandwiches, & watch adventure time together!" 

I know it will get better & after my wife giving me the only medicine that will cure an over bearing dad's racing thoughts (Chicken, Mac & Cheese, & 12 year old bourbon) I am feeling better. So yeah, thanks 'Kids Growing Up' you've successfully killed Doe-Eyed Dad & brought back fatty comfort food eating dad but that's okay. Tomorrows another day! 

PS just to be completely clear, because I know my wife will read this post I have to clarify: Fatty Comfort Food Eating Tom never REALLY went anywhere! That was a total turn of phrase & had no truth as to my eating habits which are…less than healthy… yeah that's the terminology I'm going to use!