learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Stream of Consciousness

This one might be a little more meandering/disjointed than usual, if that is even possible.

I love my son. There’s no disputing that fact – if anyone attempted to do so, I would likely turn into an angry bull over it. My son is why I get up each morning and slog through even the worst of days. It’s as natural as breathing and as part of me as the hands that type this. It just is. 

There are days we are absolute misery to one another though and today, today was one of them.

It wasn’t his fault or my fault. The weather today was dismal, lashing and miserable rain that kept us trapped in a stuffy house except for one awful trip to Market Basket. Market Basket, I will rant about you another day. When we can’t get out and do something, or be comfortable enough in the house to be highly active, it makes for disaster around these parts. 

The culmination of our frustration with each other came when the little guy ran from the kitchen, sling-shot around the fireplace and barrelled at me full bore as I sit on the couch. Before I knew what was even coming I got a face full of his thousand pound solidly concrete head. The cracking sound off my cheekbone was terrifying but thankfully, nothing more than my sense of safety around my careening almost three year old was deeply injured. I’ll have a black and blue tomorrow but nothing stark or obvious. Just an ouch.

The moment he hit me, he started to laugh. He thought my cry in pain and shock was a game. My heart broke. How can I chastise him, scold him for laughing at my intense pain and upset when he genuinely has no idea?! He doesn’t feel pain like I do, for starters, and even though he’s been knocked down by larger kids a few times he’s never been in a situation of intentional hurt beyond needle sticks. He has intense emotional empathy but has no way to understand the messages that empathy sends him, so he reverts to his default – happy/silly. 

And there’s a 99.9% chance I am reading way too far into this. 

He doesn’t hurt intentionally. He has pushed another child exactly twice and each time, he is firmly told we do not place our hands on other people like that. His body gets ahead of his control and that’s generally when someone (usually me) gets hurt. 

I’ll talk to his therapists of course about how to deal with it, it just for now adds to the layers of sad I’m struggling with. 

The rest of the day he was even more clingy, which is the last thing I wanted to be because of the headache and having been clung to all day. He wouldn’t even let me go to the bathroom without trying to be on my lap. I feel like a terrible mother but sometimes, I just can’t deal.

Add to that the times it feels like all my worth is bound up in how many hours worked can be squeezed out of me and how I feel like it is believed I never carry my weight and that leads you to kind of the dark place I am in. 

I keep telling myself tomorrow will be better but geez. If someone upstairs is listening, a little good news to come my way would be a treat right now. 


  1. Erin

    Oh, Nicole. I’ve been there. My kids do not do grocery stores. Ugh. They just don’t. But with hubby gone so much, we have to muddle through or survive on dry cereal. 😉 One OT suggested when we go to Costco (or any store with shopping carriages) to start with the heavy stuff and have Troy (my son) push it. It expends energy and gives him an “organizing” sensory activity. Those stores can be very overwhelming for our kids – the high ceilings, fluorescent lights, stacks of multicolored boxes, etc. As for him crashing into you, you should explain to him “ow, you hurt mummy.” He will catch on. Sometimes – with all young children, not just the ones on the spectrum- things need to be explained very directly and simply.

    You are doing an amazing job with your boy. That is the only work that matters right now.

    You should read this. It is originally written by Nicole Johnson, though I can’t seem to find the original online. But Jess posted this copy a while back. Hang in there Mama.


  2. nicole

    I really needed this, thank you. That’s such a beautiful way to look at things, even on the hardest of days. Putting little man into the cart, sitting on his butt in the back so he can look through the sides (his favorite stim) works sometimes, but as he gets bigger heck. I’ll have him pushing the cart more! At BJs of all places he does love to help but he can fit right in front of me easily when pushing the huge carts there. Not so much at the supermarket. He also prefers being forward facing when in a cart – facing backwards makes him nauseated and insecure.

    The things that you have to remember to watch out for sometimes!

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