Sunday, November 6, 2011

He got a haircut

Today was uneventful. It was a crisp but sunny Fall morning. We did our usual scramble with short snips of "Hurry" being called out. We were only 8 minutes late for Church, which is a miracle all its own. Ansley went to play with her friends in the nursery while Freddie, Ethan and I went into the Church service. It was a very good sermon. The kind of sermon that leaves you with 'things' to think about. Afterwards we were off to lunch and then Walmart. As Freddie went to do a quick run through the store, we waited in the car - watching Phineas and Ferb. I looked at Ethan. "Maybe not today. He looks so happy. Maybe after school tomorrow." The boy needed a haircut. He needed a good haircut a month ago. But I keep subjecting him to "Mama Cuts" to not have to deal with what might happen at a hair salon. For a child with autism, the simple errand of getting a haircut can be a nightmare for all involved. In Ethan's defense, I get it. I am asking him to sit in a chair that squeeks, spins and has a weird booster cube in it. I then ask him to let a trendy girl with BRIGHT hair come at him with buzzing clippers. Oh and ask him not to worry as his hair falls off. I get it, babe. But Mama Cuts needs a fresh cut to keep up.

But he looks so happy. Am I really going to ruin our day. Yep...

So when Freddie comes out of Walmart, I ask if he is game to go get haircuts. Freddie was more than willing. I turn around and break it to Ethan. Putting on my "Happy Face" I explain that Daddy needs a haircut. "Since we are going to get Daddy a haircut, let's go ahead and get you a Big Boy cut too."

Wait for it.....The smile turns into the blank stare....Wait for it....

"ok. But Fox NFL Sunday after the haircut?"
"YES!!! We can watch anything you want to see when we get home!"

I watch as he mentally sizes up the deal. "ok Mom."

Did he just say ok?

We all get out and pile into the salon. I am ready to 'inform' the trendy stylist. I have the whole explanation down. I am an expert of sorts at making this haircut thing happen, no matter what. However, I have to be ready to do it. If I am not in the frame of mind to wrestle the bear, I don't even attempt it. Today I feel the Force. Let's do it.

I say this knowing the history of such events. The crying, the fighting...knowing that once I say we are doing this, that we have to.

Law of Behavioral Principles - If you provide an escape versus finding some way to work through a situation, you do so knowing that it will be 10 times worse on the next attempt.

So once we decide we are doing this...we ARE doing this. Ugh.... It would be so much easier to give up. To pretend I do not know this. To say "He has autism and cannot help it" and then walk out. But I know his limits, as well as his strengths. I know that if I cave and let him be weak, that he will pay for this as an adult. Life skills. Coping. Strength. Autism ain't for wimps.

Taking a deep breath and putting on that fake smile, we open the door and go in. They are ALL trendy girls. Visually confusing for Ethan. At least he only stares versus asking questions. We sign up and wait our turn. I whisper in his ear, telling him how Big he will look with his new hair cut. I remind him that we will see Fox NFL Sunday when we get home...that I have a lollipop in my purse....that his teacher will love his new fast it will go...
I am starting to panic.... a little. Ethan nodded his head while staring off, in his own World.

"Ethan, you're next." *** inside voice*** thanks, I think we'll run now****

So what happened? He got a haircut. Nothing happened. No whining, no fussing, no freaking. Nothing. He smiled and answered the stylist's questions. He was charming.

She had no idea.

We did not cause a scene. There were not looks of sympathy. We did not have to hear about someone's friend who has a kid with autism. How bad off that kid is. How that child doesn't talk and how lucky we are that Ethan isn't worse. It is exhausting living with autism. Having everything rotate around that one word. Trying to weigh the 'is it worth it' factor.

Ethan got invited to a birthday party - at a skating rink - Is it worth it to try? Worth it defined as: Is there a chance he will like this or are we just gonna torture him by taking him?

Today is was worth it. It is a life skill. One that we conquered at our previous station but had yet to conquer here.

Today was uneventful. Our son got a haircut. He went in, got it, we paid and we left. Just like everybody else. Oh yes...AND he was charming.

autism - you are losing.

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