These last weeks have been hard for my sweet Mae Mae. Dawson’s anxiety has showered over her like a heavy rain. She has fought hard not to get wet. The polka dot rain boots, pink rain coat, and rainbow umbrella have not been able to protect her from the fierce winds and heavy rain that have been his autism, her autism, our autism this past month. She stands in the kitchen, head bent, arms limp by her sides, and she is drenched. Soaked from the tears in our house. And I have been unable to protect her. This time, the storm has been too strong. Try as we might, we have been unable to turn the course of this unwanted weather for her or for him.
And when these storms come, Dawson retreats. He finds comfort by himself in his room. And if anything is different, out of place, too loud, too messy, too anything, then the weather becomes more severe. Hitting, screaming, stripping off his clothes. It’s as if he is curled up naked in our backyard — water beating down on his back, mud marking his skin, leaves dropping on his head. We desperately reach out to help him. My Mae Mae, trying to hold the umbrella over him to protect him, but the wind pushes her away. Helpless, we must stand in the storm until it passes.
This past Saturday night, the storm was at its peak. Dawson ventured out of his room. He came into the den. His one request was, “Wii bowling.” But on this night he wanted the game to magically produce two bowling balls to go down the lane at the same time. “Two bowling balls. Two bowling balls. TWO BALLS!!!” Dave calmly tried to explain to him that there is only one ball. Mae Mae jumped into the harsh hail that was beginning to beat down on us. “Daddy, I think he wants to have two turns in a row. That is why he is saying ‘Two balls.’ Here Dawson, you can have my turn too.” She sweetly handed him her remote. He took it from her and shook them both. But having both electronic gadgets did not produce what he wanted. The screaming got louder. “No balls. Two balls.OHHHHHHHHHH.” And I ran for cover, leaving Dave and Mae Mae to fend off this severe weather by themselves. I walked to my room and sat in my bed and cried.
And as I sat in my bed I hear Mae Mae try again, “Dawson, do you want another ball? I will help you.”
Then Mae Mae’s voice, “Dawson, here. I made you a ball. Now you have two balls.” I was not in the den, but I knew instantly what my little girl had done for her brother. The kindness and caring that are my daughter’s soul made Dawson a blue bowling ball. She cut it out and stood in front of the TV, and when he shook those remotes she held up that blue bowling ball next to the television. She had made the second ball for his game of bowling. She was trying with all of her might to make it okay for her brother. To help him-soothe him.
But it did not work. Scared and crying he retreated to his room.
Oh, she had worked so hard to calm this storm, this autism. And I felt her sadness, tears, and anger in the depths of my soul. I knew her defeat and I wanted to protect her from it, but once again it was too strong.
As I came out of my hiding place, I passed by the stairs.
I saw the cut-out blue circle on the steps.
I picked it up.
I held the circle.
And I cried.
That was on Saturday night. By Monday, my Mae Mae had reached her limit. She stood in her room and cried. She screamed. She yelled. She threw her little body against her bed and punched the pillows. She laid on the floor and tightened her fists and squeezed her toes, “Mommy! I just don’t like it!!! I do not like Dawson’s autism!!! I do not like it at all!! It makes me SO, SO, SO ANGRY!!!” I sat on her floor and as she pounded her fists, I moved closer to her, “I know sweetie. I know. It is just so hard. So very, very, hard.”
And every tear.
Every pounding of her fist.
Pushed away the storm.
And then she breathed, “Mommy, I need a hug.”
And I held my sweet girl.
The clouds beginning to break.
The sunshine peeking through.
We were weathering this storm. I wrapped her in a blanket that was laying on her floor.
I rocked her back and forth in my arms.
I kissed her forehead.
“I love you my sweet girl. I know it is hard. But I love you.”
Like a little baby, she reached up and touched my hair.
“Hey Mommy. Why is your hair curly and my hair is straight?”
I laughed, “I don’t know. It is just the way it is.”
And she jumped up from my lap, ready to play.
And as quickly as the storm came, it moved on.
It will come again.
We will get wet.
We will pull out the rain boots, umbrellas, and flashlights.
And as quickly as the storm comes upon us.
It will stop.
It always does.
And she will be okay.
He will be okay.
We will all be okay.
Because no matter how strong the winds get.
Those polka dot rain boots and rainbow umbrella they really do work.
They might get really messy and awfully wet.
But they work and we do too.
In the past week, we have taken Dawson off his ADHD medicine and we have seen an improvement in his stress and anxiety.
Copyright Cheairs Graves April 27, 2012