I Don’t Make the Rules (Not the Real Ones, Anyway)


No Swimming

This evening Teghan asked for coffee and a cookie no less than a thousand times. It was on a constant loop. There is no way to stop it. What does the word “no” mean in this house? Nothing. It’s kind of like all the things we put her on the naughty step over. Spilling drinks, ripping books, climbing on things that will break her neck….the naughty step also means nothing. It just calms and redirects her a bit. She will continue to do the same things again and again. Heck, she’ll put herself on the naughty step when she does them- you don’t even have to ask. It’s part of her routine.

If you are not an autism parent, you have no idea what any of this means. It just sounds like a kid who needs a better method of discipline. Well, come on over and try. She doesn’t understand most language, tone of voice, social cues, gestures, emotions….oh, and she LOVES when you yell. Don’t do that.

I am also guessing that she would love to be spanked. I once made the mistake of slapping her hand when she reached for something hot. It was followed by two weeks of her slapping her own hand and screaming “no!” while laughing hysterically. She kept trying to get me to do it again. Like a game.

All efforts of discipline are some kind of a social game to her. I struggle between frustration- and elation that she is engaging in any social interaction, no matter how bizarre. 

Bed time was an hour ago. Do you know what she is doing right now? She is stretched out on the floor of her room, yelling underneath the door to hear the echo her voice makes in the hallway. And kicking her door. And kicking her door….

And kicking her door.

She will tire herself out eventually, so we just hope she chooses to stay in her room. In the back of my mind I do know that we will have to somehow break her of that before she gets big enough to break the door down. That could get expensive. Want to see a meltdown? Try putting her to bed and leaving the door open. Yes, she can close the door herself; it doesn’t matter. At bedtime, WE are supposed to do it.

Because there are rules. Just none of them are our rules.

We constantly feel as if we need to stop these things. How can a child be allowed to kick their door and yell like this at bedtime? I never would have gotten away with that. My parents would have scolded me. Or punished me. Oh, if only those things mattered to Teghan.

Everything I ever knew about disciplining children and raising them to act appropriately is just one big joke. It’s all useless information. It doesn’t apply. And it kind of chips away at our ego a bit.

But it’s hard to be mad at a kid while they are doing something they don’t even know is wrong. Right?

Lies. It’s actually quite easy (even when they are being adorable). But it’s no good. She doesn’t deserve our anger; instead she deserves an explanation of why she shouldn’t do those things. Also no good. Then she needs consistency- often she just needs to be ignored so it doesn’t become the game she desires. Those are the easy ones. It’s just like neurotypical parenting, with a little longer time frame for expected results.

Behaviors caused by OCD or sensory issues are more complicated. First of all, you have to figure out which is which. Sometimes it’s just part of who she is. For example, I have accepted that my child is going to make loud noises in public forever. No libraries or movie theaters for us.

Two hours in, and it’s finally getting quiet up there. We only had to do a check in twice.The kicking has ceased. I imagine the mattress is off her bed and she is still on the floor in front of her door. I am certain she has gotten undressed. We are experiencing a good stretch with potty training, so there shouldn’t be any surprises; but she stayed in her room, so either way I am not complaining.

I am having one of those moments when I am suddenly very aware that my world looks stranger than I usually recognize it to be. One of those feelings that I am living out an act in a sitcom rather than the plain old day to day existence I seldom stop to notice.

But my thoughts are interrupted. From the quiet of the upstairs hallway, I hear the echo of a tiny voice say, “uh, oh.”

I do love the sound of that little voice saying actual words….and in this case, they are echoing my thoughts exactly.


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