Friday, October 7, 2011

The Watch's Watchman

Hi everyone and welcome to back.

I’ve been away for several weeks.  Nothing catastrophic happened.  No crisis occurred.

It was just Life…

As parents, we all know we can get overwhelmed with all the schedules, the responsibilities, and the decisions that we have to make every day for our children.

However, as a parent of a special needs child or children, we can easily feel crushed beneath all of that weight.

These past weeks have been my time for not only bearing the load of the rock, but hiding beneath it as well.

It wasn’t the domain meetings, the yelling, the watch, the IEP, or even the funk that emanates from Sean’s room.

It was everything.

And I had to take what little bit of me that was left over, the little glimmer that still existed inside of me, and hide it away.

I was sick of sharing.  I was sick of doing.  I was sick of autism.  I was sick of the everything that comes with Life.

But I have some very dear friends that have poked and prodded and laughed me out of my hiding place. 

Thus, here I am.

The last time I wrote, I talked about becoming the mom that yells.  I ended the story with a cliffhanger about Sean’s watch.

That watch served as a daily reminder that I had left things unfinished.

So here’s the end you’ve so greatly anticipated….

You know how Sean loves to fidget.  And you also know how he loves to break things along the way.

I try my best to keep objects from him that are meaningful.  My first stethoscope from college and my favourite watch…. Well, I was too late for them.

Carissa’s things… Ashley’s toys…. They all have found their way eventually into Sean’s mouth.


And when he’s not chewing on things, he’s instead wrapping and tying and twisting them into unimaginable messes.

If you remember way back when, I gave Sean a watch – my watch – during the latter part of the school year in order to time himself while walking from class to class.  Otherwise, the little bugger would run… or “fast walk” as he would claim.

I don’t know what happened to my watch.  Was it sucked on?  Were the buttons played with so much that they simply needed to say, “Stop!  I will no longer work for you.”

Either way, my watch… my beloved watch… bit the big one.  It became yet another one of the sacrifices a mother makes for her son.

So off to Walmart or Meijer or Target or some other superstore I went this summer to buy school supplies and find the ultimate, hardy watch for under $20.

Why not spend more? 

In my heart, I knew this new piece of technology would sadly meet its demise as well. 

The only question was when….

Twenty days, my friends.  Twenty days.

It was at Carissa’s first cross country meet, standing in a field filled with other parents, when I noticed the watch was missing from my son’s wrist.

I prayed for strength to deal with the unknown as I formed the words, “Sean, where’s your watch?”

I was pleasantly surprised when he pulled it out of his pocket and said, “Here.”

And then I noticed the band.  Mangled.  Ripped.

Those fingers, made strong from fidgeting for years, had claimed yet another victim.

“Sean!”  I yelled and didn’t care who heard me. “What the hell did you do to your watch?”

“Mom, it was like that.  It was already broken.”

Is it human nature that when something is broken a bit, people are compelled to obliterate it?

“Sean, I am not buying you another watch.  We’re just going to have to figure something out.” 

I had visions of duct tape swimming in my head.

I was pissed.  I was livid.

And it wasn’t over some stupid $20 watch.

It was because it was yet another thing….another thing that was destroyed or chewed on or somehow altered by my son’s autism.

It’s the stethoscope, the watch, the collar on his shirt, the laminate on his bed, the other watch, the headphones, the earbuds, the straws, the fidget toys that were supposed to be indestructible, the exercise bands, the laces on his shoes… it’s everything.

And you say to yourself, “Why?”

Why bother buying stuff?  Why can’t he fidget with the things he’s supposed to?  Why do I feel like I have to constantly monitor what’s in his space or in his mouth?

Why is that my job?

The answer is simple.

It’s because I’m his mom and that’s what I’m supposed to do. 

While other moms are pressed into service to monitor their child’s emails and texts, I monitor the next thing that Sean will fidget with.

Considering the alterative, maybe my job’s not so bad after all….

They are, in the end, only things.  And if they keep him from tearing at his skin, I guess they are all worth it.

But sometimes, I do wish…

I would never want to change my son… change who he is.

But I would like, just for awhile, to be able to keep a watch in perfect working order for more than a month.

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