I used to be a big fan of women's magazine quizzes. You know the type. They give a scenario like "Your doctor has told you that you need to lose weight. You..." A. Don't even bother to try, because losing weight is impossible B. Go on a starvation diet until you have lost the amount he wants C. Start eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You all know what the right answer is supposed to be, and picking it can give you a good feeling, a feeling of superiority to those people who might pick A or B.
In real life, it isn't always quite as clear. I kept thinking about that yesterday. Let me pose the question to you all...
It's the third snow day in a row. Your twelve year old daughter with low functioning autism is very unhappy. She has spent much of the day screaming. She didn't sleep well the night before, and you finally get her to lie down with you on her bed for a possible nap. As soon as you are lying down, however, she said "Do you want cheese?", which means she wants you to get up and get her cheese from the refrigerator. You are bone tired, and she is perfectly capable of getting the cheese herself, and you say to her "If you want cheese, you go get it and bring it to me" She reacts by screaming loudly and kicking you. You...
A. Start screaming back at her, telling her you are just about at the end of your rope, and that she needs to stop acting that way, and you are so tired of it all, and....so on.
B. Overcome your aches and tiredness and get up and go get the cheese, knowing that might be the quickest way to get past this whole bit.
C. Tell her calmly she can't kick you, and that you are going to walk away to let her cool down, and that when she does, you'll talk about the cheese.
You probably know what the answer is supposed to be. However, A and B are pretty darn tempting, in the moment, and I may or may not have picked one of those choices yesterday when confronted with this very scenario. However, I eventually accessed my inner magazine quiz self, and picked C, the "right" answer. Janey's response? As soon as I'd gone into the next room to let her cool off, she found a bag of chips, opened it and threw chips all over her bed, crushing the chips as she did so, so the bed was covered with chip crumbs. I stood my ground and stayed away, figuring that chips can be cleaned up. So she upped her game. She ran to the TV and started pounding it with her fists, something she knew I couldn't ignore.
So...what next? What't the right answer there? Before you decide, keep in mind that Janey is as tall as I am now, and as strong. It's not easy for me to physically stop her from doing things like the TV pounding.
The answer is that there isn't a right answer. It's a "none of the above" type situation. As happens fairly often in this life we are leading with Janey, we pick the least harmful wrong answer. What I did was tell her to stop hitting the TV and I'd get the cheese, which I did, and which she ate a bite or two of before resuming her screaming.
I woke during the night last night, my mind racing. I kept thinking "I'm not equal to this task. I don't know how to keep going. This is just impossible" I finally woke Tony and we talked, and I calmed down, and woke up this morning ready to keep on trying. I know in my heart I'm doing the best I can, that there really isn't any correct answers for some of the challenges we face as a family. But boy, could we use some respite, some help, some something. Until then, we'll keep going, because that is always the default answer---just keep going, because there is really no other choice.