Screaming, he bolts out Ugly words strike at my soul I have failed the test.
I stand at the gate, watching, waiting. I know this is a waiting game. A hard, ugly, heart-wrenching waiting game. He's safe. Well, physically. Technically, that means he's not likely to break a bone or disappear into thin air. I wait.
My nerves are the fresh ones, I spent the morning at Andy's soccer game. He's already taken a runner on JoeyAndyDad twice this morning, at baseball. There wasn't a game, just a ceremony. Anxiety has completely overwhelmed him. Its not easy for Joey to stand, doing basically nothing, for two hours. Baseball opening day should be fun. For Joey, it isn't.
I'm the one who can stand at the gate, and wait.
Joey comes over to me, but he's still babbling, being a movie character. I keep my voice calm, the tone low and quiet. He can speak with me when he is ready to be Joey again, but not before. I am not participating in this particular script. I know it will only make him more agitated if I do.
The immediate trigger was something simple. It was beside the point, really. So many days, I'm the one ready to break into tears, wishing, praying, hoping that just this once, please just this once, be able to hold on and do what I asked of you. Please, please, don't be the day you can't do this. Please. And all the while knowing, realizing with horrible fear, pain, confusion, he can't do it today. He responds to the overload with apparent defiance. I know what it looks like is defiance, anger, disobedience, when what I need is compliance. The reality is it is a meltdown, his attempts to regain control of something, anything, and I am the parent, the thing he can cling to, lash out and try to control. He is telling me he can't do this.
The echolalia and echopraxia only go to prove the situation. He can't do this right now. He's overwhelmed. I have to wait.
He starts to calm down, runs into the house. I follow. He has calmed enough to find a more calming activity and engage. I toy with the thought, am I reinforcing disobedience? I know I am not through waiting. I do some small but needful tasks, and wait, watching his face, listening for his voice to change, his language to change. I wait to be able to talk with him, to try to come to understanding.
And today this is my job; and some days, it is JoeyAndyDad's job. Whomever has the freshest nerves, whenever possible. Waiting is hard.