Recently my daughter spent a few days with a friend, visiting her grandmother. Aside from hoping that the girls were behaving themselves and having a great time, what came to mind was the realization of how calm and quiet our house was without her….The two boys were still at home, so there was still action going on, but everything was relatively peaceful and laid back. The boys played together well and were happy to engage in family activities, like bowling or movies without any disagreement. Experience has taught me that you could have removed any one of the three children, and the result would have been the same – calm, peaceful, playful familial ‘bliss’. There is just something about that mystical number three that brings out the crazies in kids.
Any parent with a young child in the house will tell you that, at times, chaos reigns supreme. Multiply the number of children by three (or more!) and chaos is a daily occurrence. Complicate that equation with two boys being on ‘The Spectrum’ and life starts to get very interesting… supreme chaos is practically the status quo. Welcome to Chez Houldsworth!
Before having kids of my own, I would shake my head in quiet disapproval as I observed mothers ‘giving in’ to their child’s public tantrums, or screaming at their child to ‘just behave’. I would pull my nose up at dirty, snot-nosed kids, running willy-nilly in mismatched outfits, as their mothers looked away in quiet desperation. Don’t these women have any pride, I would think to myself? Can’t they manage their children? Not I….oh never! I, of course, planned to have beautifully dressed, well-mannered, cooperative, bright, adorable little cherubs….someday….
Fast-forward some years, and I awoke to find myself over-run by three screaming, whining, fighting, hellions who are constantly demanding something – food, attention, toys, vindication, you name it….and leaving a trail of destruction in their wakes. What had happened to my grand plan of perfect little angels? I learned the hard way – never say never!
Don’t get me wrong, I adore our three kids and given the option, wouldn’t send any of them back (well, not today anyway…) But, they do tend to play havoc with my carefully laid plans, try my patience with their ‘deafness’ and test my parenting skills with their challenges.
Truth be told, I’m not your laid-back type of person to begin with (my husband is nodding his head vigorously in agreement!), so dealing with this level of noise, chaos and disruption is like fingernails down a blackboard. I struggle hard to pick my battles and as the popular book recommends – not sweat the small stuff….easier said than done!
Finally accepting that chaos is a natural part of our family life, I’ve recently adopted a new motto – “Embrace the Chaos”. Rather than constantly fighting to tame the chaos, I now try to find the joy within it:
- Instead of sighing over the trail of art supplies left behind by my daughter, I try to envision her future as a budding Picasso.
- Instead of groaning over the books and papers strewn across my son’s room, I try to focus on the fact that he is an avid reader.
- Instead of moaning over that fact that my kids complain about the dinner I just slaved over, I try to appreciate that we are all together and have food to eat.
And of course, in the midst of it all, I also try to seize the rare moment of ‘zen’ for a quiet moment for myself, reading in the sun room.
For Gregory in particular, chaos can be extremely difficult to deal with. As with most Aspies, sensory overload from the sights, sounds and smells of our daily family life – music, video games, shouting, vacuuming, etc. – can become very stressful. Add to that, an older brother who loves to tackle, touch and tease and a whiny, persistent little sister invading your private domain, and poor Gregory has his hands full trying to hold himself together.
But as stressful as family life can be for Gregory, I am convinced that our familial chaos has benefited him as well. It has forced Greg to build his threshold of sensory stimulation and increase his tolerance for frustration. Family life has helped Gregory to adapt, as he is forced out of his comfort zone of quiet control into the fray of close social interactions and constantly changing situations. Family disruption has taught Greg sharing and negotiation tactics, as well as the skills of reading social cues necessary to achieve a desired end. In short, although he frequently retreats to the quiet solitude of his bedroom to decompress from too much ‘togetherness’, the ‘invasions’ of family life have also forced Greg to rise above of his Aspie tendencies and interact with life as it comes…maybe not on his terms, but on terms he can now cope with much better…
So, when chaos reigns supreme in your home, just stand back, take a deep breath, relax and ‘embrace the chaos’! The positive results might just surprise you too! (And I’m willing to bet that Picasso’s house wasn’t exactly immaculate either…)
- How Rude! (asdhelp.wordpress.com)
- Embracing the chaos – build a fort in the living room (if you can find the living room) (dadventure.ca)