Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Bad Day

It can be a very normal day, a good day even.  The sun can be shining, the birds can be singing.  All may be right with the world, but when one little thing goes wrong, it becomes Katie's "Bad Day".  The littlest, tiniest thing may get it started.  Not getting to eat when she wants to, or being told that she spilled something on her clothes.  It may be due to an argument she has with a sister, or if I tell her we can't go to Mc Donalds.  If she is upset, angered, disappointed or embarrassed at all, she will well up with tears, hang down her head, and say, "This is my BAD DAY".  It sounds kind of cute when you hear it in a story, but it is NOT cute at all when you hear it so often.  My oldest daughter got so tired of hearing it that she exclaimed, "Every day is your Bad Day!" 

When someone tells you that they are having a bad day, you want to reach out to them, to help them get through the hard times.  You might feel sympathy, or treat them a little kinder or more delicately.  You might give them a break on things, and even pick up the slack so that their burden isn't so great.  But, like the boy crying wolf, Katie is loosing sympathy points at my house rather quickly.  Don't get me wrong.  If something is really bothering her, or if she is hurting or struggling, we are all there to support her in any way that we can.  But after it was originally  comical, and now rather tiresome, it is all we can do to just get her through her moment of heartache without getting frustrated with her.  Because once the waterworks start, and the yelling follows, there is no talking her down off that cliff. 

I am sure some degree of Katie's angst is stemming from the fact that she is a teenager.  I am positive that parents of teens out there deal with similar situations on a regular basis.  I have an older teen, so I know this well.  But when you mix teen angst with Autism, it is a lethal combination.  Now the doors are slamming, the feet are stomping away, the music is blaring, and the term, "It's not fair!" are common occurences.  And you know how sometimes you can't figure out just WHY your teen is upset about something?  Try that with an Autistic teen that not only doesn't understand the feelings they are going through, but also doesn't have the words to express those feelings.  Or, in Katie's case, when she is so upset about something and crying, you can't understand a word she is saying!  There is one phrase I do understand, "It's my bad day!"

This is how it all gets started.  Katie will get off the bus from school, happy and laughing and looking for snacks.  "Katie, how was your day?"   "It was good Mom.  We watched a movie and I had a student council meeting and my friend sat by me in lunch!"  "Katie, do you have homework?  Let's do that before you have a snack (or watch TV, or listen to music)."   "No, Mom, I want to...(fill in the blank)."   "No, Katie, you have to do your homework first."    "TODAY IS MY BAD DAY!"      stomp, stomp, stomp SLAM! 

Sometimes it feels like I must have the patience of a saint to deal with Katie.  But then sometimes, even more times, it feels like I am the worst monster of a mother for the frustration that I feel.  I talk about Katie alot, because I love her so much, but also because it helps me to deal with my uncertainties and anxiety I face when I struggle with raising her.  I also talk about her alot because so many people are interested in her daily adventures and triumphs and tribulations.  I live my life with Katie like it is an open book, and I guess when you leave your book open, people tend to pick it up and read it.  I have been told by friends and strangers and coworkers and family that my husband and I are strong and are doing a wonderful job with Katie and her sisters.  I can't tell you how good that feels to hear, because it doesn't always feel like we are doing the right thing.  It doesn't always feel like we know what we are doing at all.  I know I share alot of Katie's success stories, but I have just as many stories that make me want to cry.  But if I can turn "My Bad Day!" into a good night, then our Adventures in Autism will be a success.

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