And Then School Started

School started for our school district August 22nd. The sighs of relief from the moms of school age children weren’t really heard until today. I think they all probably occurred around 9 AM. I know that this Friday, the base Starbucks will be full. The line might even reach out the door, into the PX, also known as the Exchange or small shopping center. The moms will congregate with friends they haven’t seen since school let out. New moms, who’ve recently moved into the neighborhoods, will be meeting and making friends. I will probably be sipping my coffee at home on Friday. I have no urge to go join the brutal melee of a pack of on-duty airmen, jonesing for their coffee, retirees who have no idea as to why the line is so long, and the rest of the moms who are really just looking for familiar faces and catch-up news.

Two of my boys are quite happy to be back at school. Despite the autism, they relish seeing people and getting out of the house. My middle son, not so much. He’s a lot like me. He’s serious, set in his ways, and thinks that if he says it, it must be so. That last one only works if you are Momma. On Thursday, he went to school, played at recess, then ate lunch. After lunch, he looked at his teacher and told her that it was time to go home. Veni Vidi Vici, or so he thought. Lo’ and behold, he did not come home after lunch, he had a few more hours of class.

Thwarted by his teacher and an aide, he was quite grumpy coming home. During ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), he did not want to work. He’d been building up frustration from the day and weeks before. His tantrum lasted 45 minutes. His tutor, was taken aback. She also has an autistic son, but she disagreed with how things went down. I, as his mother, was a bit dismayed. We knew something was coming, but not what. You can watch my kids like a pressure valve’s gauge. You know they are gonna blow, you may even know why, but sometimes, you just have to let them blow.

Part of autism is the inability to regulate emotions, or express them in a proper, social conformity kind of way. For most people a tantrum is not productive. For my kids, learning to control them is very difficult. My youngest has multiple, little tantrums to bleed off the pressure. But my middle child is a pressure cooker. He simmers and compresses until he can’t hold it in. So, he hits his emergency relief valve. It has to be done. We can only guide and plan so much. Preparation can’t take care of everything. But it sucks. No ifs, ands, or buts. It hurts to watch your kid in pain. They have to learn to let go, and I don’t know that I can teach him that.

As a parent, you are supposed to relate to your kids, just not too much. I do know that after that tantrum, my middle child has improved greatly in his demeanor, and you can see that he’s got less stress pushing on him. That doesn’t mean he’s ok, but he’s back to his normal, serious self. I often find a good fight or explosion helps me level off. It’s just not done in society. I’m supposed to take him to the gym and let him work off his stresses, or find a creative way for him to express his anger. The problem is that those solutions don’t work for everyone. So I will have to help him find some way of getting rid of some of that frustration. But how do you tell a 6 year old that?


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