Overall things over here at Autism's Edges have been going awfully well lately. So well that we are slipping. We've been letting our autism parenting slip . . .
So last night when I was stricken with a stunning migraine, I reverted to a parody of American parenting.
Sweet M and Fathersvox were quarreling about her bath time. I was curled up in a fetal position on the bed, hoping that the migraine dry heaves would not resume and praying that someone would just come in and shoot me in the head with a 44 caliber pistol to put me out of my misery.
It was time for her bath, but he'd insisted that she go to her bath in the middle of a TV program she was watching, rather than waiting for the end of it and then sending her off to the tub.
So she came in whining to me. M_____, M______, F______ turned off my show. Help me. It's not fair.
Grunt from me.
M_____, M_____, come on and talk to him, you have to talk to him.
I'm sick, you guys figure it out.
But— but —but —it's my show . . . louder and more excruciating.
I marshaled my last ounce of coherence and energy, lugged myself into the living room, restored her show, and said in my most deranged parent voice:
"There. Your show is on. Watch it. When it's over take your bath. And I don't want to hear another word from you, young lady."
She nodded solemnly and said, "O-key-doe-key."
And then I realized what I'd said. Something I've never said in all the time I've been parenting her. I told her to stop talking. And I can. Because she talks now.
Hallelujah — I can be just as bad a parent as the next parent and she'll survive.
I never thought I'd be proud of my worst moment.
Therein lies the secret power of autism — what's good is bad, what's bad is bad, and now, farther into the journey, even what's bad can be good.