autism, endorphins & why I don’t spank my kids

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autism, endorphins & why I don’t spank my kids

I hadn’t intended on jumping right in with my two cents on autism, but after reading this story today I just had to.

Jillian McCabe Was ‘Overwhelmed’ Before Autistic Son’s Fatal Plunge

RIP little London. 😥

Ummm. Hey, Jill. (Is it okay if I call you Jill?) Parenting overwhelms the best of us. You can’t just go throwing your special needs kid off a bridge. Take a break. Read a book. Go for a walk. Talk to a friend. Do some yoga. Go for a run. Have a good cry. Drink a glass of wine. Hell, drink the whole bottle. I have those days, I totally get it.  I don’t know, do something, but for crikey’s sake DON’T THROW YOUR SON OFF A BRIDGE.

There are tragic stories all the time about parents killing their kids, and each one is devastatingly heartbreaking to me. But when I hear the ones involving special needs kids I am even more saddened to think of the lives lost. I am a protective mama bear to all of my kids, but I have to admit my Haiden has often needed a little more protection than Mia & Eli. It hurts my heart to think of him being hurt, and I can not even imagine being on the giving end of that.

I am not a spanker. On the few occasions I have lost my patience to the point of hitting one of my kids, I have been so consumed by guilt I could not let it go. Prime example: When Mia was three (she’s almost 19 now, just to give perspective on how long I’ve held onto this) I was a single mom, working full-time and going to school. After a particularly long day, as I was bathing her, she splashed water on the floor, and I lost it. I pulled her up and smacked her naked bum. A welt immediately appeared. But the worst, the absolute worst part, was the look in her innocent tear-filled brown eyes. Those sweet eyes were full of sadness, hurt, and the heartbreaker: fear. I caused that. I decided that night to quit my job as a restaurant manager and find something less stressful, because I knew I could not take pent-up work emotions out on my child.

Last year, we had a bunch of people over to our house. Haiden has a hard time when there’s too much going on, if it’s too noisy, and especially if other kids are messing with his stuff. So it was no surprise to me that he had multiple meltdowns. And usually I can diffuse him pretty quickly, but that day I couldn’t. By the end of the night I was absolutely out of patience. As he was throwing an epic fit, I took him into the bathroom, flailing and screaming. I remember the instant so vividly- as I raised my hand up, right before it made contact with his butt, his eyes flashed that same set of emotions I had seen in Mia’s eyes 16 years ago. Sadness, hurt, fear. But it was too late. I couldn’t take it back. He looked at me, shocked at what had just happened, and then he said something I will never forget, as he sobbed and gasped and fat tears rolled down his cheeks:

“Why? Why would you hit me? Only bullies hit because bullies are mean.”

I choked back tears and pulled him close, hugging him tightly and apologizing profusely. Because he was right. He was telling me exactly what we have always told him. And here I was, The Bully. Worst heartbreak ever. I never want my kids to feel that again.

Haiden has taught me immeasurable patience. And I’ll admit, I am “lucky” that his ASD is on the high functioning end of the spectrum. I can’t imagine if he was non-verbal (although I have days I wish he was. I kid, I kid. But seriously, the kid can talk for days. On high volume. Think megaphone.)

But no matter the circumstances, I can’t imagine hurting my own children. And I’m sad for the kids who end up hurt at the hands of their parents. And I feel sad for parents who are so far gone that they even had this thought process that would lead to the end result of killing their kid.

I’m also lucky that I can run. People ask me how I got into running. They tell me how they hate it and they wish they could love it the way I do. I am lucky that I found my joy in running. I began running in 2008. Haiden was diagnosed with autism in 2009. The timing couldn’t have been better. Maybe in some ways running found me.

So the moral of this story can pretty much be summed up in a quote from “Legally Blonde”:

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Except fill in “Happy people just don’t kill their kids. THEY JUST DON’T.”

And that is all for this one.

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4 responses »

  1. Wow, I love this. And it applies to parents anywhere, whether they have specials needs children or not. I have been on the edge lately because my boy, who is one and a half, has turned into a little monster within the last month. Every time that I go to the family room at the gym he cries and will hit other kids. Right before this all happened, he would be the kid staring at other babies his age with that “why are you crying” look. I believe in spanking, but today I realized that maybe some of the times do not call for spanking. Is that why my son is hitting other kids or is it a phase? I have no clue. I spank my daughter when it is called for and she respects other kids. Maybe I am beating myself over this but I guess I need to be EXTRA patient, because I know this is only the beginning.
    And you are right! Whenever we have days like this, my workouts are even harder and all that stressed is released in my sweat. I could never imagine hurting my kids because they drive me crazy!

    • Plus kids go through phases where they hit. Eli is in his terrible twos phase and I can not stop him from hitting Haiden, which then results in Haiden hitting him back. I never thought I’d deal with that between a 9-year-old and a 2-year-old. So frustrating! So far I haven’t seen him hit other kids in his daycare, so hopefully this is just one of his nasty habits at home. There’s no magic answer– we just have to figure this parenting stuff out as we go!

  2. That was awesome. I don’t have a special needs child, however I cannot fathom the idea of taking my precious child’s life. It’s heartbreaking!

    • Right?? I read another story just this morning about a couple that tortured & killed the woman’s 3-year-old in all sorts of malicious ways. They hung him upside down and beat him! That’s just downright evil if you have the capacity to do that to another human being let alone your 3-year-old son. Sometimes I wish I could shut out all the ugliness. 😦

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