Saturday, April 13, 2013

Because I Said So

Yeah, I did it. I swore I never would, at least to Conor, but I did. It was inevitable, I suppose. I've spent years trying to structure things, and communicate things, and explain things in terms he can understand.

Years of speech therapy focusing on expressive and receptive language, social skills groups that never quite worked, reams of paper spent on social story after social story, doctors and diets geared toward better health, better behavior, increased language and learning, hours upon hours upon dollars of Applied Behavioral Analysis to break down every little task and academic goal.

All trying to integrate him more smoothly into our family, our community, into... our life. To help him understand the world and to help the world understand him.

At the end of the day, I just cracked.

"Mom?" Conor asked, squeezing his hands together in front of his ample belly. "Can Conor play the drums now?"

"No," I replied, sighing with exhaustion. "You can't play the drums now."

Conor had already eaten, that's true, but my husband and I were trying to get our dinner on the table and do homework with Aidan while simultaneously tripping over the dog with every step. (Poor Linus had been in the kennel while we were away, and he had what Aidan lovingly calls "kennel fever". Translation: the dog has lost his damn mind.)

It had been a long day, for reasons that are now unclear to me. But I was exhausted and wanted a modicum of quiet.

"Why?" Conor asked, continuing to wring his hands together. "Why can't Conor play the drums?"

"Because I said so, Conor. That's why."

Oh boy. There it is. Yeah, I said it.

We'd spent years trying to elicit the 'w' questions out of Conor. You know them from journalism class--who, what, where, when, why and how. (I don't know how 'how' got in there, but there it is at the end. It must be at the end, because Conor doesn't ask 'how' questions yet.) Finally, after gobs of intensive intervention ('gobs' being the clinical term for years and years), Conor began asking as many 'why' questions as a typical toddler.
For a kid who lost all his language for a good long while, asking 'why' is a huge deal.

I loved it, I reveled in it. I swore I'd always give him an explanation to the 'why'. Until I started running out of answers.

Merry Christmas?
I should clarify that Conor's usually not asking 'why' questions about abstract concepts. You know the typical--why is the sky blue, Mummy? Why are the leaves green, Mummy? Why are there so many Kardashians, Mum?

Generally, Conor's asking 'why' in response to a decision we've made that affects him or when someone is showing a strong emotion. ("Why is that baby crying?" for example. Or, why the hell can't I play on the drums, lady?)

And so here I was, just too weary to explain to him that my ears were just too tired to hear him bang bang bang on his brother's drum set. How do I explain that to my son who never seems to tire of his own voice, loud music, slapping rubber balls against brick walls, the thwack thwack thwack of the basketball on the court?

But then again, I really can't believe I even said it to him. Because I said so. I mean, what's next?

Improved eye contact and joint attention? Don't you look at me like that! 

Modeling behavior from typical peers? If Johnny jumped off the bridge, would you jump off too?

Do it, man. It's totally RAD!

Having to explain an abstract concept more than just a few times so he understands it? How many times do I have to tell you?

Refuse to deal with noncompliant behavior? Wait until your father gets home! 

All because I was just too exhausted to explain to Conor why he couldn't crash away at the cymbals on his brother's drum set.

I suppose it's not that big of a deal. After all, most parents find themselves spitting out these words to their spawn eventually. Perhaps it's even inevitable, despite best intentions.

Come to think of it, I've got a few other parenting gems that I haven't pulled out yet when dealing with either of my boys.  

Phrases like--

You and me? We're going to have a come to Jesus if you don't straighten out.

Yeah, I'll give you somethin' to cry about.

Don't smile, your face will crack.

If you think you're going out in those clothes, you got a 'nother thing comin'.

And my favorite--

Sit your ass down in that chair, I'm not done talkin' yet.

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