When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

April 5, 2010

Grandma with her Egg Hunt Loot (Easter 2010)

April 5, 2010.  Peter was like a steaming kettle rattling off the stove of its own volition yesterday.  Needless to say, Easter was a catastrophe.  The bunny and basket stuff was fine, breakfast was happy, but church was not, and it was only the beginning of what would prove to be Peter’s (and therefore the rest of the family’s) most trying holiday ever.  Flicking his fingers against the pew and whacking hymnals together while dressed in his Easter best, he looked like a cherub but behaved like a lunatic.  Attempts to hold his hands, Pat on one side and me on the other, only escalated the situation.  “You’re ruining my life!” he hissed loudly.  “I hate this day.  Sophie is stupid!”  We would have, should have left, but by this time the service was ending and we’d have had to dash in front of the reverend, who had already begun her cheery descent up the aisle.  So instead we waited, which meant we left our twice a year church with Peter growling at this gentle, grandmotherly lady as she awkwardly attempted to wish him a Happy Easter.  Luckily the car was nearby and together Pat and I lobbed our unwieldy son into his seat and closed the doors, which muffled his full-blown shrieks.  For an instant my attention diverted toward Sophie, who was staring at the car, or more accurately, the sound coming from the car, her awed expression reminding me of one of the prettily-clad girls in a Norman Rockwell painting.  Her picture perfect expression didn’t last, though, her face turning hot red with anger an instant later when Peter yelled, “stop staring at me, Sophie!  I hate you!”  The rest of the day went downhill from there.  Pat’s mother, thankfully, was our saving grace.  At nearly 85, she has Pat’s wit and acumen and she never fails to assume the role of cheerleader and morale booster in our sometimes emotionally depleted home.  Yesterday was no exception.  Every time I was on the verge of tears, she’d do a little “tada” and make me laugh, make me forget, for a moment, that my son was sequestered in his room on a holiday because he had just charged me with a pair of scissors.  Earlier, when we were shell-shocked from another unexpected tantrum, she announced she would participate in an Easter egg hunt if we could wrestle up something for her to lean on and if we promised to hide a twenty-dollar bill in one of the eggs.  The kids howled with laughter and so did Pat and I.  Grandma foraging across the front lawn for Easter eggs, snail’s pace and all, is a scene I’m sure to never forget.  When the day was finally over and it was time to kiss the kids goodnight, Peter apologized.  “I was bad to God today,” he said.  “God understands,” I corrected.  “He just wants you to be happy, to learn to control yourself.”  I’m not a very religious person but I’m not an atheist either, and I certainly don’t want our troubled son, a true innocent, to think God is angry with him.  I kissed him goodnight and told him to dream about a better tomorrow.  Pat and I fell asleep talking about possible triggers but we came up empty.  Public meltdowns are not his thing – he usually reserves tantruming for home, or at least the homes of relatives.  Although holidays can be rough for Peter when there’s too much excitement, this was a low-key Easter even by Peter’s FAS/autistic standards.  This morning I wake Peter up, careful not to startle him, and he smiles brightly at me.  “How do you feel?” I ask.  “Fine, Mom.  I’m fine.”  I believe him.  I don’t know what happened yesterday, why he had the worst day he’s had in probably a year, but whatever storm was raging in his head has passed.  As he leaves for school he turns toward me and waves his hand vigorously in the air, as though he’s on a parade float. “Have a nice day, Mom,” he beams.  And I do.  Today is peaceful and quiet and I hope the same can be said for my son’s undulating synapses.  Although I still feel the aftershocks from the Easter assault, I take solace in knowing those kinds of days, though they may never be gone for good, bombard us with less and less frequency.



  1. Terri Mauro has had some good advice on church for quite a while now.

    The reverend and the grandmother were great.

    And Sophie does look like a Norman Rockwell painting.

    Comment by Adelaide Dupont — April 6, 2010 @ 1:39 am | Reply

  2. we did some holidays and some we did not. anything which is different just simply triggers differences, and so some holidays were not even worth mentioning or making cakes for. many times we just visited a farm on easter, or had two fifteen year olds take the 2boys at 3 and 4 and 5 around trick or treating for me. i did not answer the door. i turned out the lights and laid down til they got back. still do today. it is not a requirement to wear costumes or dressy starchy clothes or sit beside people who poke poke poke or pick pick pick. just making some of these not so much low-key new years or low key st patty’s day etc is not enough. doing nothing became much preferred by us. just keeping our regular daily day was the key. i am not critqueing your solutions, but just sharing what worked for us. change begets change which begets panic, anxiety, hostility. we were really REALLY low key. pretty much birthday and xmas, only 2 special days a year. lindalee

    Comment by lindalee — April 6, 2010 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  3. I have been reading your blog for a short time. I am amazed that with all of Peter’s issues, you take him places. Sporting events, church, family get-togethers-but it seems he can’t handle it, and he breaks down. I am not criticizing, but I really would love to know your reasoning, for taking him say, to Church.
    I have a son with very similar issues, adopted from an orphanage, age 9, with many, Dxs. I can take him SO few places. I would only attempt Church if we had been over it with a social story about 50 times,and then we’d only stay 10 minutes, during which time i’d feverishly be feeding him cookies to keep it a positive experience; I’d want to keep it “successful”. I’m always a little jealous when friends do “normal” stuff with their kids. I just can’t. That’s the hand my son’s been dealt. The week before a holiday is always he!!–and we don’t even have anything planned! This week, Spring Break is equally horrid. Just because it’s out of the normal schedule-that’s all it takes. We could spend the day staring at a wall, but if it’s out of the norm, then it’s too much for him.

    One thing that helped us is getting him out of the Public School nightmare, and the teachers who don’t understand attachment issues and the effect of toxins on the developing brain. Simple ignorance and I couldn’t take it. I won’t give him to them any more! I would send in a regulated child in the morning, and they would send home a dysregulated, tantrumming mess-what was happening there?!

    I learned a long time ago that my son will say awful things when he’s dysregulated. Much worse that what you’re illustrating here-but when he’s regulated, he’s a different child. So I never hold him to things that he has said or done when he’s over the top. In my world, if he is dysregulated, it is my fault. If he is at school, it is the teacher’s fault. It can’t be his fault, I therefore, don’t consequence him, because he doesn’t know how to regulate himself. It’s part of his disability.

    Just some thoughts, I would love to have a cup of coffee with you one day. I’m sure we could share some battle stories….take care and keep writing!

    Comment by elizabeth — April 8, 2010 @ 10:23 pm | Reply

  4. Holidays always spike my little one. Not sure why. Maybe it’s the energy she feels. Maybe it’s all the people around who are more excited than normal. She seems to feed off other’s energy, particularly when others are elated. Problem – she is not always elated with the group. Meltdowns are also common on holidays. I’m at the overstimulation idea. I’m sorry your Easter was not what might have been. We no longer attend church either, or very rarely. My little miss often cannot sit still at the church we found. Luckily, her father was able to take her to church this Easter. My church has lots of music, even though my kiddo loves music, but people are expected to sit in the pews, which drives her wild. I’m not sure about his church – the ex – maybe it’s more low-key. I’m learning with my kiddo, unless I keep it low-key on holidays, it gets a bit much…lol

    Comment by Lori — April 13, 2010 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

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