Count It Out

Despite a family stomach bug requiring lots of fluids and patience, our weekend is going well.

Every fifth weekend we are blessed. Tyoma is healthy and we amiably enjoy each others company and do fun (but odd!) things together. When Egor’s folks came, we were graced with one such weekend.

The other four weekends, however, vary in their degrees of misery. I’m sick, E’s sick or we are bored into a depressive funk. Tyoma runs amok, despite our best intentions.

I ask myself why we have such trouble.

Egor made a substantial observation last weekend:

Tyoma cannot have a quiet mind. He must be occupied with an activity that has personal meaning for him. If he is not pursuing such an activity, his mind fills with anxiety or boredom.

These already powerful feelings are amplified by his autism. He is lost in a sea of unbearable emotion. He acts out as an escape.

How do I know this? I feel the same way.

True that, husband.

Coping with an empty mind is my biggest difficulty.

My younger self, would have scoffed. “How could you be bored? There are so many things you can do! Quick, collect something, open a book, look outside!”

That younger self never coped with an autistic five-year old in a kanji writing mania.

Sometimes kanji duty numbs the brain. I know every parent has such moments, but we are like our son. The mental void of boredom fills itself with ugly, unpleasant things.

So, I paint, write or doodle. My husband draws or stares sadly into space.

This weekend, despite protests that it never works, we are doing The Strict Schedule. The Strict Schedule keeps transitions between parents to a minimum, which helps greatly. It is a full day for me, minus two hours of Papa breaks.

In the past this worked well. We were happier and more organized. We only get off track when I’m ill (me=schedule queen). The next weekend, group amnesia sets in and chaos begins anew.

I don’t want to find myself wondering what went wrong in three weeks. Thus, I made “Count It Out” to remind me.

All week, I told Tyoma to use numbers to count through difficult moments. There is always the first thing you need to do.

This is mine, to remember what works even if it seems hard.

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