The other night my own son beat me with fists of fury. If I had written about the incident right after it happened you would be reading many, many curse words and lots of profanity. I didn’t say those words, but that’s how I felt inside. Braden was frustrated because he didn’t get what he wanted, so he proceeded to hit me and kick me all while screaming his head off. I was the object of his scorn. This all happened in the car, but we weren’t parked at home. Many of the windows were down and I’m sure everybody within a quarter mile radius heard what they thought were the sounds of a child being beaten and kidnapped.
I can’t remember the last time my son Braden, who is 9 and has autism, attacked me like that. I was so ticked off that I had to put up with it. He repeatedly reached out to hit me and kick me while he was in the backseat. I was in the driver’s seat. The car was parked. I was SO close to blowing my top.
I won’t lie; my instinct was to let my anger take over and just let him have it. But I’m not that kind of parent. I deflected his hands and feet as they flew towards me so I wouldn’t take any direct shots. And, of course, the fact that he couldn’t directly strike me just made him all the more mad and frustrated. Both of us had become extremely irritated.
We were over at our dear friends’ house taking care of their dog and Braden was mad because I told him to stay in the car. When we first got there Braden was able to get out and go into the backyard with Mom. She was pouring kibbles and watering plants. But then Braden came back around to the front, where I was waiting outside the car, and it appeared that we were just about ready to go. So I told him to get in the car (Jeep Liberty) and get his seat belt on. That was it. He didn’t want to get in the car yet. He told me, “No.” I can’t let disobedience like that slide. I’m his Dad. When I tell him to do something he better do it.
I asked him again and got the same answer. Then I told him to get into the car. Still no cooperation. So I walked over to him, took him by the arm and showed him to the car. He fought me the whole nine yards.
When I finally had him in the car with his door closed that’s when I got in the driver’s seat. The lift glass around the back of the car was up because his dog, Lucy, was in the far back and I didn’t want the lift glass down until right before we were driving off. It was a hot summer day.
Braden wasn’t happy that he couldn’t go into the backyard. That’s when the beating commenced.
He did not get his way. We don’t reward bad behavior in our house, or in our car. As Braden began his meltdown and his hitting and kicking fit I was definitely alert that people nearby could hear this commotion. I was staying as calm as I could. I was pretending like someone was watching or video’ing this whole incident from a second story window. Even though I was burning inside I kept my cool. I WAS FUMING TOO! No joke! This was one of those times when I needed to realize that I was an adult, a parent, and I needed to tap deeply into my reserve of patience. It was not easy. It was not fun. I needed to step away, but I couldn’t. I probably should have got out of the car.
What is the lesson here? I don’t have a clue. I know I don’t have all the answers. Patience is a virtue, that’s for sure. After the short drive home I told my wife that Braden was all her’s. My supply of patience was tapped out so she’d have to get him ready for bed on her own tonight. We call it “processing him” for bed time. That includes bathing him and brushing and flossing his teeth. The whole thing. Mom had no problem taking the reigns. Teamwork is invaluable in times like these. And there have been times where I’ve had to handle him because Mom’s patience was exhausted. Raising a kid with autism isn’t easy. But tag teaming makes it easier.
When we got home I ran his bath. And in his room I told him sternly that Daddy doesn’t like being hit and kicked. I let him know that I wasn’t going to tolerate it. The goal here was to prevent it from happening in the future. Did it work? I don’t know. I left his room and let Mom take over.
And then I went into the kitchen and got a drunk… I mean a drink. I exhaled and sat down. Whew. Thank goodness this was the end of the day rather than the beginning.