Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…

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not yet insane

today while loading some of my older poems onto one of my webpages i came across one entitled “day one”.

it was funny looking back on what i thought would become of my attempt at homeschooling ziona. and to be completely honest, i’m not sure that from time to time i haven’t been *this close* to checking into the local funny-farm. quite probably it isn’t a stretch to profess that i have at least figuratively, found myself banging my head against a wall.

autism has many ways of presenting to the world. just as neuro-typical persons have each their own way of interacting with situations in their everyday life, so too the neuro-diverse, like those with autism, have their own very unique way of approaching things. but many children with autism share the same tendency to tantrum that ziona exhibits.

if it only happened when she is called upon to cooperate with her homeschool lessons such fits of anger would be only an enhanced version of the dislike and frustration most any child feels at being made to learn such previously unnecessary skills as ‘cursive handwriting’ or comparative fractions and decimals. if it only happened when she can’t remember how to spell the words on her weekly list of words to remember how to spell, it would be quite understandable.

but from as far back as my slowly aging memory extends with regard to zee, she has had much difficulty in the area of patience. when younger she used to ‘stim’ by spinning wheels on toy cars lain on their backs to this end, or staring into the ceiling fan, watching water pour from the bathroom sink’s spiggot or even waving her fingers in front of her eyes while staring, as if , right through them. these are some of the ways in which some kids with autism cope with the inability to self-calm from which many suffer,

these days ziona doesn’t use such means to offset her frustrations. instead she rages. and by that i mean RAGES! it is this aspect of teaching her that gives us the majority of our problems. and just so everyone reading this who hasn’t had the dubious pleasure of witnessing a true ‘rage!’, can put this into perspective, let me describe a usual progression.

first she screams. then she pounds her fists, or the pencil held in her fist, into the table. then she becomes verbally abusive to me, even threatening to do me bodily harm. then she lays down and flails her arms and legs about while screaming, then she accuses me of thinking she’s dumb, or some such thing, then when she is made to go to her room,(if she goes without a struggle) to calm down, she rages from in there for a bit longer. then she starts hating on herself, she cries uncontrollably, starts calling herself dumb and other such things…she cries more, is overcome with remorse for how she’s behaved and says she deserves to be hurt, then she attempts self-harm.

at that point i force open the door, which usually she has slammed behind her and attempted to barricade, take her into my arms, hug and kiss her tears away. i tell her that she deserves only love. she cries and asks me how can i forgive her. i tell her that she always has my forgiveness and suggest that she learn to forgive herself. we walk back to the lesson area arm in arm to start again.

this same sort of outburst used to happen far more frequently and for little or no reason at all. she has improved greatly. having learned to use words to communicate has helped her to verbalise her emotions, but it has also given her a new way to lash out, to tantrum. and altho such occurrances as the one described above happen at least once a day, either in response to lessons or some other thing that frustrates her, it seems like heaven around here, compared to how it was when as a younger child i could expect at least 9 or 10 of such blind rages per day.

one day, after lessons…after lessons had taken up the whole of the day, right up to her bedtime, we had an enlightening discussion.

i asked her what does she gain from raging like that. her answer was wise and nearly blew me away! she told me that just like swearing when you stub your toe makes it seem less painful, her tantrums actually are a way for her to achieve calm, to alleviate her psychic pain. it was then i began to understand. this is her new version of ‘stimming’.

whether this is really a better way to self-calm than going into the bathroom and running the tap for minutes at a time while staring at the cascade of water, or gazing into the ceiling fan, or shaking her hand in front of her face to watch her fingers make trails of themselves in her visual field, i can’t say. but her being able to explain the ‘why’ of her tantrums…in such a succinct and simple manner, has done much to alleviate my worries about whether such behaviour will last forever. i’m convinced it will not.

just as she left off some of the ‘stims’ of her babyhood in lieu of the ‘tantrums’ she employs today, i know one day she will find more appropriate ‘stim’ to meet the reality of whatsoever her environment and circumstance.

as for me, i haven’t gone insane just yet. and since our little ‘talk’, and my subsequent understanding of her process, my patience levels have increased.


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baby steps and gratitude

baby steps

that’s the way we grow
from one level of maturity to the next.

but we do grow…all of us, no matter how old.
still i admit being taken way aback by the
baby step my own 75 year old mom just took!

this is the third christmas that my beautiful and proudly transgender daughter has lived ‘outloud’.
we always go to my mom’s house for part of the holiday, but on zeeona’s first christmas as a
the girl she is, we nearly didn’t make it, because zeeona wanted to wear a dress…one of her beautiful new sweater dresses, and my mom wasn’t comfortable with this.

in the end, mom acquiesced.

since then, altho she hasn’t been able to ‘remember’ to use the feminine pronoun when referring to zee, or even call her by her chosen name, mom has decided to ‘sort of’ ‘kind of’ accept that there’s such a thing as transgender. and knowing that we wont come to visit if there’s a dress-code, she tolerates any outfit my daughter wants to wear.

because zeeona has a wide range of interests, not entirely girly gifts were always apropriate. so mom has always been able to fall back on such things as puzzles, books etc. as gifts that didn’t violate the societally imposed rules for what things a boy or a girl might receive.

this year, when mom called me for suggestions of what to get for zeeona, i was prepared to run through the same sort of gift ideas. i hemmed and hawed a bit before answering…

then mom broke my incoherent string of non-words interspersed with ‘i don’t knows’ and asked, if i thought zeeona would like the pink waffle cotton pajama set she had bought for her…maybe with a matching pair of fuzzy slippers.

to say you could’ve knocked me over with a feather at this point doesn’t nearly do justice to the shock i felt.

not only had mom suggested some quite obviously girlie gifts, but she had used the proper pronoun when asking “do you think she’d like…”

on my end of the phone, with jaw gaping and wide-eyed disbelief splattered across my face, i stammered back saying something like, “yeah, she’d like that i think”. but my mouth was forming words without benefit of my brain, which was still reeling with the realization that my mom had just taken one HUGE baby step!

at the time, i didn’t interupt her to point out that this was the first time she’d referred to zeeona with the proper pronoun. at the time i didn’t think to praise her for choosing a gift that shows her acceptance of zeeona’s reality.

at the time, my surprise overwhelmed me. and later upon reflection, i thought it absolutely necessary to save this praise, and express my gratitude when we are face to face, so she can see my eyes.

if i know me, even tho i have thought about it ever since, blogged about it and ponder what a big step it was for her, when i finally tell her in person just how much it means to me, it will be through eyes brimming with tears of joy and love. and i will definitely need to give her a big hug.

had my mom never been able to ‘get’ to this point, this acknowledgement and acceptance of zeeona’s reality as a transgender girl, it wouldn’t have doomed our relationship. as my mother, she has done so much! so it seems to me out of place to demand growth on the part of our parents, but to applaud them once it occurs is the only right thing to do.

when i do finally see her again, tomorrow, and let her know how much this baby step means to me, unless i miss my guess, my eyes wont be the only ones filled with tears.