Tonight I got kicked in the shins by a wannabe Ninja!
Thank goodness he didn't have steel-toed shoes!
Our story begins with the best of all intentions. It was shortly before 7:00 p.m. and our four year old son, Ryan wanted to go for a family walk. I was game but no-one else in the family wanted to go so I told him that at 7:00 p.m. we could take our walk together. My little exercise partner was very happy and I was too. I'm trying to get fun buns for summer. (Yes, I know. Summer just passed. I'm starting early, okay?)
Somewhere along the way, Ryan got distracted with Google Earth on the iPad and I got caught up in work emails so it wasn't until 7:22 p.m. that we headed out the door. That was okay though because 22 is Ryan's 2nd favorite number and if you add 7 + 2 + 2 together, that's how old his brother Justin will turn on his birthday on Sunday and if you're not following the logic, don't worry. We're a numbers crew of two, Ry and I. Number twins power, ACTIVATE! (If you get that reference, let me know. I WONDER if anyone will!)
As we headed out the door, I noticed it was already starting to get dark so I laid out the rules.
#1: No running away from Mom. (Ryan has been a bolter for the past 2 years and although it's getting a little better so that he doesn't run out of the house completely nude when it's raining and Mom is in a towel, we have a lot of work left to do.)
#2: We hold hands when we cross the street and in places where it is dark.
#3: When we cross the street, we look left, right and then left again and only if it is safe without cars do we go.
#4: No putting leaves, rocks, slugs, worms, ear jam, boogers or any other potentially tasty treats in your mouth. No offering the former delights to Mom. She's full. She already ate dinner.
Ryan said he was happy with "4 rules because he is 4" and since he was good with the rules, I donned my cautiously optimistic smile, comfortable shorts (just in case I needed to break into a sprint) and we were off! I asked where he would like to walk and he chose our nearby elementary school which is about three and a half blocks away depending on how you measure. They just added new playground equipment at the beginning of the school year and Ryan wanted to swing, spin and slide. Sensory Integration Therapy at bargain prices!
Okay, I told my little guy I could hang with that too, but before we headed there, we needed to add another rule. This did not please him because there should only be 4 rules because he is 4 but I told him it was a BONUS rule and since BONUS is a magically golden get-out-of-jail-free word in our household, he gently acquiesced.
Rule #5: We can play at the playground for 30 minutes but when Mom says it is time to come home, you need to listen, follow rules and walk home nicely. -- Admittedly, I knew I was pushing the envelope with this one but I thought since it was getting dark, it wouldn't be very crowded there, I could wear him out, he'd get tired, etcetera.
"Okay, Mommy. I'll listen. Let's go!"
So we were off and my little guy was a real angel all the way to the school. (Perhaps this was a sign that some sort of cosmic balance needed to come into play but I was having none of that stuff!) He held hands with me the entire way. We sang silly songs. We talked about school, his new tricycle, GPS coordinates for the neighborhood, weather, street signs, maps and cars. It was a great bonding time and by the time we got to the school, I felt really great as a Mom and proud of my son for all the strides he was making.
When we got onto the school grounds and near the play area, I even released his hand a little early so that he could gleefully run to the playground equipment and climb, swing, spin and slide to his heart's delight!
This went very well. We were having a grand old time and as I envisioned wearing him out a bit, walking home hand in hand with more bonding time and delighting in the thought of both he and I getting a solid night's sleep, I fantasized about my Mom of the
Ryan has very strong climbing skills and although this impresses me, it also scares me because the boy also seems to have very little fear of heights or injury. So far (knock on wood), he has not broken a bone yet but very few days go by without some sort of new bruise he obtained at school recess. I recall when I was a child that I used to do a lot of climbing and sliding too. I'm not sure how much fear of injury I initially had but there wasn't a year between age 4 and 21 that I didn't twist an ankle or knee at least once.
Things were going along very well at the playground and we were checking out the new rope climbing area when three brothers came by. I'm not the best with estimating age but I would guess based on my own boys' ages that they were around 12, 9 and 7. The youngest one was dressed like a Ninja.
My immediate thought in watching him was wondering if he was an Aspie or a kid who had just gotten his Halloween costume early and wanted to wear it to the playground. Perhaps both? Observing his mannerisms and listening to his speech patterns, my guess was that he is somewhere on the spectrum. I'm not a doctor and I know this may seem strange to some that don't get it, but I am noticing that I have a radar for fellow spectrum travelers. Not only do I tend to gravitate in my life toward people who might be a bit quirky (I say that with love) but people who are quirky tend to gravitate toward me. That is the topic of another blog though.
As I was observing the brothers and also watching Ryan, I noticed Ryan and the Ninja becoming very aware of each other. They smiled at each other. Ryan even tried imitating a few mannerisms, paying ode to the other boy. Ryan was a wannabe Ninja and with his speed and stealth-like moves, he played a good role. The Ninja was pretty much ignoring everyone else.
This was happening while the oldest brother, the sports enthusiast of the family was trying to get his brothers involved playing football. None of them wanted to play so the oldest brother created his own game which I called, "throw the ball at his other brothers and try to knock them off the playground equipment." The middle brother kind of got into it and was dodging the ball. The Ninja was ignoring it and as the ball would hit his body, he'd just let it bounce off. I wanted to say something because I didn't think that was particularly cool but the Dad (I presume) was nearby and knew what was going on and didn't seem to care.
Of course, Ryan thought this game might be one HE should get involved with so he darted from me and went over to the oldest brother and told him that it was now HIS TURN. At this point, my Mommy sense told me that it would be a good time to wind things down and start heading on home so I started Ryan's transition time and told him we had 5 more minutes and 2 more slides. He ran away from the older child and starting climbing the ladder to the slide. I was very pleased. (Too pleased, I suppose...)
So as Ryan gets to the top of the ladder, he looks over at the Ninja and WHAM, the Ninja gets hit in the face with the football. He starts crying. I ask if he needs help and he shakes his head. I look to his father who is a little distance away to see if he'll step in and the oldest brother tells him to stop crying and suck it up. (I suppose this might be common in families but my parenting experience has been with two spectrum boys and this family seemed to be 2 NT and 1 not so NT.) The Ninja keeps crying. The middle brother shows some empathy and asks his little brother to go sit on the bench. He does. That seems to help but the Ninja still cries. Loudly. Ryan is watching this with fascination. "Boy is hurt.", "Why is boy crying?" "I don't like boy sad.", "I don't like boy SAD!"
Ryan definitely does not like others sad and it is very difficult for him to process without laughing first or lashing out or getting angry. It makes him very uncomfortable.
From a distance, I could hear the father yell, "You're okay. Stop crying." The boy kept crying. For goodness sakes, he just got HIT IN THE FACE with a football! Check on him! Show some sympathy. At least say something to the oldest son who is now throwing the football again at the middle brother. Believe me, I was pissed but soon, I had my own little situation brewing.
Ryan was now very revved up. He did not want to take 5 minutes. He did not want to go home after two slides. He wanted the Ninja to stop crying. "Boy is sad!" I picked Ryan up to carry him away from the situation and he punched me in the spine. I almost dropped him but we made it another few feet and then he started whaling on me again. I put him down on the ground, sat down with him, held him so he wouldn't bolt, looked him in the eyes and tried talking very calmly. It wasn't working. Regrettably, I knew he was orbiting into meltdown mode and it was not going to be pretty. I would speculate that families two blocks over were able to hear what transpired.
Moms and Dads of spectrum kiddos, you've been there, haven't you? The meltdowns... man, they can go from 0 - 60 in an instant. I usually have some really good tools I use but sometimes none of it works and you just have to ride the wave and hope that when it comes crashing down that another one is not right behind it.
As I heard him wailing and screaming about the Ninja being sad and that Ryan's playtime was NOT over and that my Rule #5 was a VERY BAD rule and that he HATED that rule, I realized that my Mom of the Minute trophy fantasy was shattered into oblivion and that 1-800-CuddlyStuffedTigers would not be making a delivery to my home soon.
Eventually, Ryan calmed. It took a song about a Ryan-potamus to do it and when we both got up from the ground, tears streaming down both his cheeks and mine, we hugged and we kissed.
Then he looked me squarely in the eye and kicked me squarely in both shins. He was still upset that the Ninja was sad and it was something I guess he needed to do. We'll be working on curtailing THAT behavior tomorrow.
"Rule #5 was a BAD rule, Mommy but I LOVE YOU!"
And so the story ends....
And tomorrow is another day....
Thanks for stopping by my blog, Aspierations friends!