Today was an experience.
I’ve been taking children to church pretty much every Sunday for almost 13 years. I know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and–you get the idea.
And yet, today was harder than normal. Maybe it’s because I had the flu earlier in this week–I’m still regaining my stamina! I will blame my chicken-heartedness on that.
This morning, getting ready for church was actually better than usual. I glanced at the clock and thought, “Hot dog! We’re going to be on time!” But then, just as we were walking out the door, Colby cried, “Circle waffle! Want two circle waffles!” I handed him one that was sitting on the table (his unfinished breakfast from earlier) and jammed another one in the toaster. The girls were (thankfully) in the car, and Zack was doing something (I’m not sure what) but at least he was dressed. I ejected the waffle from the toaster and put a couple of gobs of butter on the top. We got in the car and were on our way.
We pulled up to the church at about 11:01. The big kids walked dutifully inside while I unbuckled Colby. He was still holding his waffle; the butter looked especially unappetizing. I tried to smear the butter chunks around with my thumb. Ick. The other kids hadn’t closed the van door, so I towed Colby over to the other side to do that before crossing the parking lot. He kept saying, “Mama hug! Mama hug for back!” but I had a giant church bag swinging from my arm, making the addition of a 40-pound boy an awkward proposition. I encouraged him to walk by holding his wrist and tugging him along behind me.
After a few moments (a few s-l-o-w moments), Colby said, “Need new pants. Pants falling down!” I looked back at him and had to laugh.
[Digression: One of the markers of autism is sensory processing issues. Some kids feel too much and get too much input from their environment, and others feel too little so they seek input from their environment. Add to that a rigid, routine-based mind, and you have a little boy that doesn’t like new clothes. I urge all of you, everywhere, to be kind when you see a kid wear the same shirt day after day after day. Or if you notice that a kid’s coat sleeves only go halfway down his arms. You might look at the kid’s mother (who, let’s face it, looks fabulous) and think, “Why won’t that lady spend some money on her KID?”
And I will say: he has a new coat, but he refuses to wear it. He has other shirts, but for some reason has attached himself to this stripey one. Naturally, it is one I bought at Goodwill, and so is several years old, and there is no way I can find one in a bigger size. (When we transition to a new church shirt, it will be PLAIN WHITE.)]
Anyway. I put new pants on him this morning. He was kind of distracted and didn’t notice when I first put them on, so I assumed we were good to go.
Not good to go.
Once inside the church building, I used the internal elastic waistband and buttons to cinch them a bit tighter. (By the way: best. invention. ever.) The other kids were already sitting in the chapel, and I heaved a sigh when I realized we hadn’t missed the opening hymn. We scurried inside, Colby still balancing his waffle on a paper towel and me still balancing my gigantic church bag. We sat down, and immediately Colby said (in a voice that I would not term as “inside”), “Pants wet! Need new pants!”
I closed my eyes. I should have forseen this. What, in the name of all that is glorious, had I been thinking when I put him into new pants that morning? Well, beside the fact that his other church pants were at his dad’s . . . and that was it. The new pants were our only option.
His new pants are too long, so I had used safety pins to shorten them. He could feel the safety pins touching his legs, and it felt wet. He needed new pants!
He yelled off and on about it through the prayer. I took the pins out as soon as the prayer was over.
Good, right? Pants are up, and are not wet. Smooth sailing for the rest of sacrament meeting!
Except that it wasn’t.
Sacrament meeting, as many parents can attest, is not always restful. We have a fairly good system, but we were not at our best today. Besides Colby feeling cranky and clingy, my girls fell into an elbow war that they would not cease until I sat between them. I sighed enough to fly a kite for 20 minutes.
At one point, Colby opened his mouth and let out a little yell. I’m not joking here–it was a little cry for a long moment, like a baby bird asking for a bit of regurgitated food from his mother’s beak. Not a big deal, really. It only became a problem when Zack, sitting on the bench right in front of us (he’s done that for years; apparently, we’re embarrassing to sit next to) turned and said, “Colby, no yelling!”
To which Colby answered, “NO YELLING!” In full voice.
I gathered him in my arms while giving Zack a look (he, of course, looked back at me, all injured innocence, and mouthed, “What?”), and Colby yelled, “Need a time out!”
We took a time out in the hallway. I rubbed his back and he repeated, “No yelling,” several times, along with, “No Primary. Primary in twenty days.” I thought of the words of the opening hymn which said, “Holy day, devoid of strife.”
I started to laugh.
Not in my galaxy.