You don’t get to pick and choose your child. There’s no compatibility test. There’s no dry run. When it happens, that’s it! You’re a parent! They are yours to keep for the rest of your life. And the choice you are ultimately left with is what kind of a parent you choose to become.
It gets a trickier when you add ‘autism’ into the parenting equation. How do you really parent an autistic child? How do you become a good parent to someone who has needs you didn’t plan for? How do you know that the decisions you make are right for your child? How do you carefully assess situations so that your words or actions do not negatively impact them for the rest of their lives?
I don’t know. I really do not know how.
I don’t know if I am a good parent. I don’t know how to qualify my efforts. Are they good enough? Are they lousy?
Between 4 and 7 years old – Aiden used to go into these unbelievably massive meltdowns. He could go on for hours screaming and running around the house. Slamming every door. Throwing his body unto the couch, unto the floor, unto the bed. His eyes – they would be glaring. Hardly any tears… just fuming. And his face… his face would be so red and hot. He’d stop to catch his breath and then back at it.
I screamed just as loud and if not, louder back at him. I spanked him. I forced him into time out chairs. I ignored him. I sat him down and calmly asked him to calm down. I gave him bear hugs. I bribed him. Nothing worked all the time. If you can imagine desperation, helplessness, frustration, agitation, anger, and fear all at once – that was how it felt for me.
Every time I thought I had figured him and his meltdowns out, I would be wrong. I was clueless. I loved my child so much but I didn’t know how to love him right. Right enough to make it all stop. Right enough to make him all right.