My son bounces. He’s a sensory seeker, and when there’s nothing else around and he needs input, he bounces. Usually on the balls of his feet, sometimes it’s just jumping up & down. We’ve (and I mean everyone on his team when I say ‘we’) tried everything. Compression vests, weighted vests, redirection, weighted anything & everything, backpack full of books, theratogs, heavy work….you name it, we’ve tried it.
Some days are better than others. Some days are even great and he hardly bounces at all. Some days are not so great. Yesterday was one of those days. He was doing a lot of bouncing and a lot of seeking-swinging his head, flapping, he was doing it all. And I had plans to meet a relative for lunch. Overall, he is a good kid in restaurants and yesterday he was good. Towards the end of the meal, he continually tried to stand up in the booth to bounce, but we had been there quite some time. When we were out in front of the restaurant, coincidentally his one OT drove down the street, beeped and waved at us. Today she said to me “I noticed that even there on the street, holding your hand, he was bouncing quite a bit.” Yes, yes he was.
It was a nice day so we walked down the street to get ice cream. He was seat-bouncing in the stroller the whole way down there. In the ice cream parlor there was a line, and he started to bounce. And bounce and bounce and bounce. And then, he bounced on my toe. Catching it just the right way to make me see stars.
“STOP!” That’s all I said.
And that was it. My patience was out and my mouth was working faster than my brain. My aunt who was with my other child across the room, plus the older couple in front of us in line, turned to look at us. I embarrassingly knew I had said it much too loud. And of course I also know in my heart and in my head, that no matter what I say, he’s not going to stop. He needs to bounce. If he could stop, he would. But my foot hurt. My arm was sore from trying to semi-restrain a bouncing child for almost two hours. I just wanted it to stop and my mouth said it even though my brain knew it was no good.
Driving home I realized it was a sign that I need a break from both kids, even if just for a few hours. Luckily I do have a night out planned tomorrow with some friends. Because try as we might, sometimes we just can’t make it stop, whether it be bouncing or something else. So if it doesn’t stop, we need to just take a step back and regroup. Be on the lookout in your daily life that you need a break. Sometimes all it takes is one word. No need to feel guilty. Moms often tend to their own needs last and that’s not healthy. You have to be running with full tanks too. Take time to recharge. Look into respite care for autism or other special needs and see if you qualify. Ask a family member or friend to help. Yes, if nothing else, tag team parenting works too. I’d love to have a long day or weekend with just my husband, but those days are few and far between. Right now it works for us if he just goes fishing for a day, and then I do something special on my day.
Back in November, I wrote an essay for Parenting Special Needs magazine (page 24). It’s about making the most of the little blocs of time that we have, since it’s unlikely we’ll get a whole weekend away. I think it’s time for me to heed my own advice!