I knew it was going to be bad.
Just knew it.
Matthew wanted to go to the store. So we went to the store. It was getting late, but we went. It was the beginning of the routine, but it was happening out of order. We should have gone out to jump first. But we didn’t. It was going to be bad.
When we got home, Matthew wanted to jump outside. The routine was happening backwards, but I couldn’t stop it. Every attempt to redirect him toward something else just wasn’t happening. It was no use. He wanted to jump and no amount of iPad screen time would redirect.
(And yeah, I know. Let the boy jump, right? Exercise is FAR better than an iPad. Except, I knew what was coming next.)
So we jumped; even though it was after 8:00pm, we jumped.
And as I was helping him off, he asked for what I had feared in letting him jump: “Wanna go to the library?”
I hate being right.
“The library is closed, buddy.”
“THE LIBRARY IS CLOSED! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”
“Yep, I’m sorry man.”
And so again, I tried to redirect. It didn’t work.
It was going to be bad.
Eventually, we drove to the library. So he could see.
It was going to be bad. The routine was FUBAR.
So we went to the library, and the library was closed.
“THE LIBRARY IS CLOSED! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”
We got out of the car, so he could see. But it didn’t help.
And it became bad.
After twice carrying him back to the car and eventually getting him buckled in, we drove home, screaming all the way.
It was bad.
You see, we struggle with self-injurous behavior. Without the words to express frustration, other outlets replace it. And slapping his head is his go to move for letting us know just how frustrated and hurt he is.
The slapping had started; I could hear it.
So I pulled over despite being less than a half a mile from home to restrain him.
Except when I looked in the mirror, I noticed that the slapping sound interspersed with the screams of protest over the library being closed, was NOT coming from him hitting himself on the head.
This time, despite being a truly bad one, this time, Matthew was slapping his hands together.
Rather than express his pent up frustration at the radical departure from his routine that the closed library was causing him, my son had redirected his anger, on his own, by slapping his hands together.
I was wrong.
It wasn’t bad at all.
It was one of the more amazing moments of growth my son, or anyone I’ve ever known, has ever shown.
Sometimes a busted routine opens a whole new world of awe and wonder. Thanks, little man, for the reminder that terrifying change is often an amazing thing.
I love you, my son.