Drawn to water

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I remember it like it was yesterday.
Just thinking about it makes my heart pound in my chest.

We were living in Pennsylvania at the time.
Down the hill from my Nana.
She has an above ground pool that we would walk to in the afternoons and swim in.
The boys loved it.
They’re like little fish. They would swim for hours and hours.

But the boys can find water without even knowing it’s there.
Baths, sinks, toilets, cups, creeks, puddles… we moved to Texas and Justin started wandering. So instead of stopping him, I followed him to see where he’d take me. He found the beach. He didn’t know how to get there from where we were. We hadn’t ever gone that way. But he found it!
If there’s water, they’ll find it.

When Tyler was about 1 ½, we lived in a trailer and didn’t have central air… so after it had gotten REALLY hot and Tyler couldn’t sleep, I put an AC unit in his window.
His window was about 6 feet from the ground.
So their Dad put it in from the outside while I was inside hooking it up.

I’m sitting there… looking at it.
My kids are little houdinis. They can get out of just about anything.
So I’m looking at it, trying to see if there’s a way he could get out of the house while it’s in the window.
I shook it.
Pushed on it.
Pulled on it…
It was a little rickety… but it seemed like it would hold.
It’s getting close to bedtime.
Still not totally convinced that it was Tyler proof… I figured I’d find a way to make it more sturdy tomorrow.
At least tonight he’ll be able to sleep.

Once his room cooled off, I laid him down and it was the first time in a long time he actually slept through the night.
So good, that he slept in.
I woke up to Justin giggling in his room.
I got up.
Got Justin up and taken care of and put him his highchair with a drink then headed to Tyler’s room.

The AC was on the floor and out of the window.
Kicking myself I thought -Ugh… lovely. You should have tried harder to fix it.

I looked around the room, “Tyler? Ohhhhh Tyyyylerrrr?”
I opened his closet door. “I found y—”
He wasn’t there.
I looked around the room.
“Tyler?”
My heart started beating faster.
“Tyler??” My voice growing louder. Picking up anything he could fit under.

I looked out of the window. There were toys on the ground. But I didn’t see him any where.
I ran out of his room.
“Tyler!”
Running through the house.
“TYLER!!”
I ran outside…. Looking around…  
We’re surrounded by woods…. And because we’re in the middle of nowhere, people drive really fast on our back country road.
All I kept imagining was him dead on the road.

“TYLER!!!!!!!” I screamed.
Nothing. I don’t see him.
I ran inside.

“TOM! Get up! Watch Justin. I can’t find Tyler!”
Without waiting for him to even respond, I ran back outside.
Down our hill and on the road.
“TYLER!!!!!!!”
Nothing.
I don’t see him.
I ran back up our driveway and started running to my Nana’s house.
My heart in my throat.
I’m biting back from crying.
I can’t see if I start crying.
Just as I get to the top of the hill, I see Tyler.
Smiling and running towards me.

Relief flooded over me.
I fell to my knees when I reached him and hugged him so tight.
He thought it was funny and started giggling.
I cried.
Hard.
I carried him back down to our place.
Put him in the highchair and made the boys breakfast.

Kicking myself. Over and over and over in my head.

It wasn’t until later that day that I took the boys swimming that I saw his favorite (never let it out of his sight) blanket at the bottom of the pool.

That’s when I realized he was on the pool deck that morning.
That he threw his blanket in… and by some miracle, he didn’t jump in after it, and decided to turn around and run to me calling him instead.
He couldn’t be away from that blanket long enough for it to be in the washer and dryer….
But he came to me.
He could have died.
Because although I was teaching him how to swim… at 1 ½, he still couldn’t swim without floaties.

Before I even knew he was Autistic… I knew we had to be careful with them around water.
I fixed his window.

Often, kids on the spectrum don’t understand the concept of danger.
They’ll walk into traffic or bolt from a caregiver.
Wander far from home.
Or get into water too deep… without knowing how to swim.
If you see a kid doing something you’d expect them to know not to do, always check, especially if there’s not an adult around. No matter how old you think they are (people think Justin -7-looks 12)… make sure they understand what they’re doing and that they’re not going to get themselves hurt.

I’ve had a couple people see one of my kids running away from me.
Some saw me chasing them, some didn’t… but they were closer to them than I was, so they cautiously got in front of them to slow them down. Most of them didn’t touch the boys, they just helped me catch up. (I thanked them profusely). You never know… you might help save a life. Or at least a heart attack. ❤

We Don’t Do Socially Acceptable

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We went to the park today.
After we had been there for about 20 minutes, a guy walks over pushing his daughter in a stroller.

“Good Morning” I said.
I hate it when people don’t say anything and you’re supposed to just pretend their not there.
“Good Morning.” he said.
“She’s too cute!”
“Thank you. We’re trying to get rid of her morning naps, so I’m trying to keep her busy.”
“I get that” I laughed.
“How old is he?” He asked.
The way he asked sounded a little funny… I could place it. It wasn’t completely curiosity… it wasn’t the “sweet” awww how adorable is he – kind of question….

I smiled and said, “He turned 2 in May.”
He smiled… but his smile was different.
“How old is she?”
“16 months.”

They walked over to the swing to play.
I normally get the “Wow… he’s really big for his age”… and he didn’t say anything. And that smile… what was that? It wasn’t like mine – it wasn’t a completely mean sneering smile…

It took me a bit to really think about what his facial expressions were trying to say. It’s harder for me to read people when they’re wearing sunglasses.

Then I realized Jax was drinking out of his bottle.
And that drinking out of a bottle after 1 is generally not “socially acceptable”.

It’s funny how you forget or just don’t care about social norms when you’re in your little Autism Bubble house. I never get to leave, let alone interact with other parents and their kids. So I forget sometimes how mean people can be. Or how mean they can be without really being mean.

When Justin and Tyler were this age, I would have noticed that the guy was coming and hid that bottle before he saw it. And if he did see it, I would have explained myself. Telling him about his sensory issues and how making sure he was hydrated was more important than the vessel the liquid comes in.

I would have felt like a bad Mom.
I would have kicked myself. And then tried getting them to use sippy cups AGAIN… frustrating them and myself. Making myself feel even worse.

Because a person who doesn’t know us, or our story judged what we were doing… judged my parenting.

And I realized… I still cared a little… but not like before. Not enough to do ANYTHING about it.
I stood there with my kids, offered him some snacks for his daughter, and watched my kids, they’re happy and playing and not caring about whether or not they were doing anything wrong in front of others.

And I realized just how far I’ve grown in this journey of ours and tilted my chin up a little higher.

I used to pee my pants…

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Talk about a headline right? Lol
I’ve been thinking about this subject for about a month or so now.
But I don’t always have the time to really sit down and write out how I feel about something, and then sometimes it takes me a while of obsessing over it before I’ve finally found my voice.

(Plus, who in their right mind would tell a bunch of people that they used to pee their pants. lol)

When I was about Justin and Tyler’s age, I think a year or two older… I was still having accidents.

I remember going camping with a friend (I think I was like 5 or 6?), and while I was pushing her on the swing, I realized I peed myself.
I don’t remember anything before hand.
I don’t remember needing to go.
All I knew was that I was having a lot of fun and then… it just happened.
I remember my friend looking at me like there was something wrong with me.
I remember her Mom rushing me to their area to get me changed.
I remember feeling like an outcast.

Then when I was about 7-8? Maybe? I remember my Mom got us food at a fast food place, then taking us to the park to each and play afterward.
We were all (I think there were 2-4 kids? And her) sitting at a picnic table…. We were laughing and having a great time… And then I realized I wet myself. I don’t remember feeling like I needed to go… I remember being old enough to think about spilling my drink on myself so it looked like I didn’t pee my pants…
I remember being picked on about it.

I remember moments like these as a kid… and I didn’t understand why I did it.

Why I had issues with accidents.

Eventually the anxiety of being made fun of or looked at like I was some weird… gross person, helped me be more conscious of my body… but it also made me stop drinking as much.
I could go almost all day without drinking anything because then there was a less likely chance of needing to go to the bathroom.
And I wasn’t particularly fond of going to public restrooms.

But it wasn’t until I realized I was on the spectrum, doing a lot of soul-searching, trying to better understand myself and looking at the way or why I do things to either help myself or to help (and better understand) my kids, that I realized what was happening.

Because I still do it.
I don’t pee my pants… but I almost pee my pants… a lot.
For some reason, my body doesn’t tell my brain that I have to pee when I’m busy.
It’s like it’s too busy focusing on what we’re doing, that while my bladder is saying “Uhhh dude…. We’re uh… we’re fillin’ up here man…”
My brain is like “Okay, we need to clean this room, and oh look there’s some stuff over there and HEY! What if we did this? And oh hey, don’t forget about this and that and OH OH OH!” lol

But because I’ve had to deal with this for so long… it isn’t until I’ve calmed my thoughts that I realize I either A: hadn’t drank anything for hours (because I’m subconsciously not drinking anything) or B: am crossing my legs and doing the “I’m going to pee myself dance”… then I run to the bathroom and barely make it.

One of my other goals is to be a healthier me – so drinking more water is a goal… which means more potty breaks.

I’m not going to lie… that’s been throwing me off.

I’m not used to needing to go so often.

And there have been a few times that I’m running around trying to clean and take care of the kids that I suddenly realize, if I don’t get to the bathroom RIGHT NOW, I’m not going to make it.

So, while my kids are still not potty trained, looking back at myself and trying to understand myself, may help me better understand my kids later.

Like even if they say they don’t have to potty, they might need to.
Because you could have TOTALLY asked me if I needed to go, and I would have said no.
I’m fine.

Making sure to take them to sit on the potty often… so they have plenty of chances to go.
Which also helps them get into the routine that they’ll follow over with as an adult.
In case their brains have a hard time understanding the need to go.
And making sure they stay hydrated…

I know this is kind of a weird subject to talk about myself … but if there are others out there with kids like me, who just DONT GET WHATS GOING ON?!?!! Lol
Maybe this will help.
Because I highly doubt my Mom knew why I was having accidents at the age I was at.

So if this helped you, pass it along, and maybe it’ll help someone else too.