Though it pains me to write it, the honeymoon is over.
Yesterday Pudding had her first day of evaluation at an early intervention/ school for children with autism. To say she didn’t want to go is putting it mildly. Her big eyes filled up with tears as she begged to stay at home with me. It was hard to ignore, particularly as I’ve seen such growth in her by staying home with me. Like a new bride, I was focusing only on the good, and turning a blind eye to anything that interfered with what I wanted to see. I’d been awake since 4 am, dreading the end of our sheltered time away from the outside world.
When it came time to drop her off, she was clinging to me, alternately screaming and pleading to go home with me. I felt a weight in my chest as I struggled not to cry myself. In the short term, the easiest thing would have been to carry her out of there like I was Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” But life is not like Hollywood, and a child with autism needs therapies. I can’t give her everything she needs, though I wish every day that I could. Nope, this isn’t the movies, although Pudding would have looked very cute in the sailor hat.
I collected her, and she rushed to get her backpack and then led me away impatiently as I tried to get a feel from the therapists about how her day had gone. At home, she was a bundle of anxiety and hyperactivity. We saw a return of old behaviours that I felt were left behind- mouthing inedible objects, picking at her skin, and climbing on the furniture. Although I caught her in the act with the latter, right before dinner time she climbed again, and a nasty fall left a gash and bump on her forehead.
Once upon a time Pudding was quite oblivious to pain, and she still recovers well from little bumps and scratches, but this one was bad. She was crying in pain, her little heart was racing and everything was just too much. I cleaned her up and dressed the wound. After a few cuddles, she was ready to venture downstairs for dinner (with the understanding that there would be a cupcake for dessert).
No sooner had we made it downstairs, than she started screaming and ran upstairs. When she finally managed to speak, we learned that her distress was brought about by the arrival of a new vacuum cleaner for the house. I was incredulous. We’ve dealt with her fear of hoovers. I’ve been able to vaccuum with her in the same room for a long time. This was still new in the packaging- it had never been switched on. We were hurtling down a backwards slope.
I hid the offending item, and after much reassurance that it was gone from the house and would never be used in her presence, she eventually came back downstairs and we got through dinner. I’d felt sick all day, physically upset at the change in Pudding. My sunny little girl once again plagued by anxiety. I didn’t want to go back to real life, but it was already over. There is more work to be done, and the gown and veil would just get in the way.
Then this morning she woke up….fine. After a brief attempt to let me know she wasn’t going to school today, she nonetheless got ready, and helped pack her lunch bag. She said nothing on the journey there, but when we arrived she went straight to her cubbyhole, left her backpack, and went to join her class. No fuss, no drama, no tears. There was even the tiniest smile as she began her day.
The honeymoon might be over, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a happy marriage, even with ups and downs. We’ll enjoy the good, and support one another through the bad, and when this tour is over, we’ll be stronger and closer than ever. You never know, sooner or later we might even get a second honeymoon.