Just. Tired.

We are about 2 hours into our bedtime routine.

Jonah isn’t tired.

He’s restless, but not melting down. He’s roaming his bedroom, pulling out toys…throwing his covers off his bed… trying to get out of his room. But he’s not throwing a tantrum or melting down.

I am blocking the door. I don’t want him running around at night. I don’t care that he’s not in bed.

I’m not prepared to force him to stay in his bed. He has much more stamina than me right now.

A Messy room and happy boy is ALWAYS better than messy room and meltdown city.

He tries to get to the door. I tell him to go to bed.

He walks up and slaps me. I Make him touch soft… he slaps me again.

I firmly tell him “NO.” He digresses.

He lays down on the floor. He rolls around for a while. He giggles a bit. He watched his sensory lights. He looks at me again. We make eye contact. Lightning quick his smile vanishes. I have no idea why.

He gets back up, runs over and slaps me again.

Normally, I would shut him in his room by himself until he could touch gently.

Now, I am not in the mood. I am angry. I am frustrated. I am tired.

I grab his wrists. Hold them tight. He struggles to get free to slap me again.

I pull him close by his wrists, look him dead in his eyes and quietly growl “no” through clenched teeth.

He stops struggling.

He breaks eye contact. I don’t immediately let go. I force him to look at me again before I release him.

He lays back on the floor, clearly shaken. He looks at me and looks away…

I feel guilty. I don’t want to break his spirit but I also don’t want him to continue to hit me.

I am frustrated…and tired.

I want him to know that I love him but to understand that “hitting is NOT okay.”

He rolls on the floor a bit, playing, rolling up in blankets, cooing… and eventually he pushes his way with his feet toward me.

He lays his head on me. I pick him up and put him on my lap.

At first he protests, but soon snuggles in. I rock back and forth with him and apologize. He seems content. My boy. The world seems to be okay again.

He stays in my lap for about 5 minutes before “oozing” back out into the floor.

I gently whisper, “ahhh, Jojo.”

He hears me.

Then he gets up and slaps me again as hard as he can.

I give up. I’m too tired to address it now. I drop my head letting him rain blow after blow after blow.

I don’t know why he’s hitting me. He was just snuggling with me. He’s not melting down. He’s not trying to get me to move so he can get out of the room. He’s… what?

I don’t THINK it’s malicious but I honestly don’t know. Is he trying to communicate something? Is he just processing his emotions?

And it frustrates him as much as it does me.
I want him to ALWAYS feel he can communicate with me. So I let it continue.

But, after I didn’t look up again, didn’t scold him, didn’t grab his hands or react AT ALL, he stopped.

Then he looked up at me and touched me gently on my hand without being prompted, which is his way of saying “I’m sorry Daddy.”

I told him “thank you,” and he smiled at me.

Then he went and climbed onto his stripped mattress and fell asleep.

Some days it’s just hard.

It’s hard to find the small victories even though they are there.

Sometimes your patience gets tried so much you feel you are about to snap.

But you can’t. You can’t “snap.” You must react with calmness.

Because if you want them to hang on. YOU must hang on.

I must hang on.

I have to be the rock. Because he is anchored to me. And if I come undone, we both come undone.

But I am getting tired. Just. Tired.

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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