Friday, July 22, 2011

School of Hard Knocks

I picked M1 up from camp today.  M2 and I have had a quiet couple of days at home (I say 'quiet' what I mean is that she hasn't thrown anything, fits or otherwise, in the past couple days, not that we haven't been busy... we've definitely been busy), and she was ready to go pick him up.  Just as I was telling her to get her shoes on so we could head out the door, the phone rang.

It was the camp.

M1 had been punched in the face by another kid and was in the office with an ice pack.

Now... the gut reaction of any parent when faced with this scenario is to defend your child, declare war, and start gathering resources for a counter-attack, right?  Of course!  But the thing about having a child with a psychiatric issue of any kind is that you learn early to take a deep breath and get both sides of a story before going ballistic.  So I listened.  The woman on the other end of the line very calmly told me what had happened.  She explained that the other child had been punished and told me she was more than happy to talk when I came to pick M1 up; she just didn't want the "huge shiner" to come as a surprise when I arrived.

However, I didn't need to talk.  I knew from her words exactly what had happened - both sides of the story. 

Here's what went down, as cobbled together from my experience, M1's version, and the information given to me by the camp supervisor:  The kids were in the pool.  M1 is a loner (comes with the Asperger's territory), so he was playing by himself.  He was likely either imagining himself in a scenario and it somehow involved splashing or he was trying to play with these older kids and it didn't compute that splashing does not equal playing.  Either way, in the process of his play, he was splashing some of the bigger kids.  They told him to quit.  He claims he never heard them, and I believe that.  When he's in his fantasy land, particularly after a full day of activity, he doesn't hear things... or, if he thought he was playing with them, then he thought they were just playing back.  So he kept splashing.  They told him - again - to stop.  No dice.  They moved.  M1 moved with them.  They told him to quit a third time, and when M1 didn't respond, one of them got seriously upset and decked him.

Obviously I'm not happy about the fact that some kid hit mine.  It ain't cool, it ain't what's supposed to happen, and if I'd been there, it wouldn't have been pretty.  But the reality - as much as it pains me to admit it - is that I've told M1 time and time and time again that this precise thing was going to happen to him someday if he didn't quit bugging people when they ask/tell/order him to.  My friends have heard me.  My family has heard me.  Heck, my mother-in-law called this afternoon to check on M1 when she heard about his battle wound and told me she's told him the same thing a couple times.  A couple weeks ago when we were at a pool with a few other families, M1 was wrestling with some other boys and knocked one of the younger kids in the face.  It was an accident, but after that happened, the other boys decided to play something different, something that wouldn't end with injury.  However, I had to force M1 to stay away from them because he didn't want to play the 'new' game... all he wanted to do was go back and start wrestling all over again!  So I knew.  I knew that as much as I didn't like it, this may have been just the ticket to get M1 to realize that respecting boundaries is not optional.

I gave M1 a hug, put him in the car, and took him home.  I gave him ibuprofen, an ice pack, and some topical anesthesia, and we talked.  I think he realizes now that he needs to work a little more on social skills, which he's never been keen to do because he truly believes he's just fine.  He definitely understands that Mama does know what she's talking about when she warns him what might happen.

It sucks.  It really sucks.  I hate seeing my baby hurt, and I did suggest that next year he might consider just going to science- or other academic-oriented camps rather than a regular day camp, but we'll see.

For now, I just gotta love him.  He's my baby, after all.


Learning 4 Life said...

Poor guy :-( I actually just saw your family at the store. His little eyes just lit up when he saw someone he knew :-) Such a sweet kid!

Mom on the Verge said...

Oh, how awful. And good. And terrible. It's so hard. Poor dear.

Do you really think he put the pieces together? At least you can refer back to it: "Remember that time..."

Glass? Half full.

Sarah said...

Unfortunately, I doubt he's made a connection. He runs everything through an "It's not my fault" filter. Today, for example, he tried to pick up a cat (something he's not allowed to do because he stuffs them in things like beds and pillowcases) and when I caught him, he instantly said that he was just trying to pet it. With two hands, while bending over. Yeah. Right. Working on taking responsibility is going to be a big task for this year.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sarah, my son is *exactly* like this--in his own little world where the feelings (or physical safety) of others don't enter his mind. We went to the beach and he started pouring water on an unattended sandcastle. Never mind that we talked about NOT doing this on the drive there. A dad came storming down and yelled at ME for his behavior. Jerk. He gets so overstimulated with a group of kids playing and roughhousing that he loses his head. We have to avoid situations like that as much as possible while we work on social skills in smaller groups.

My husband used to swing his cat around in a pillowcase when he was a kid. It's become a family joke to chant "That pooooor cat" in unison every time Dusty is mentioned.

--Addlepated Monkey Mama