"It's like glass going across my brain."
This is how Tommy describes it when his sister cries. He cannot take the noise. So when she cries, he has a meltdown.
She cried the other day.
She had messed up the bathroom after I told her not to. See, she likes to mix mouthwash, toothpaste, and shampoo. She calls them potions. I've explained that her potions are made out of items that cost money. So I told her to cut it out.
She did not cut it out.
So I told her I was disappointed in her.
Her lower lip immediately shook and she wailed, "YOU JUST DUMPED OUT MY BUCKET!"
It's the metaphor used in her school. You want to be nice to others and fill up their buckets. If you're a bully, you dump everything out.
I was not being a bully. But Natalie had become hysterical.
"You just dumped out my bucket!" she repeated.
"What's going on?" Tommy shouted. "What's GOING ON?" His hands were clamped over his ears. "Why is this happening? Why is this happening?"
I could see the flash of the meltdown in his eyes. Tommy has Aspergers and noises are hard for him to process.
"Tommy. Breathe," I reminded him. He knows to breathe in and out to calm himself down. He started to do this. But then Natalie screeched, "MY BUCKET IS DUMPED!" and burst into tears.
"STOP IT!" Tommy bellowed. "STOP!" He slammed his door and I heard the TV volume boom. He had raised it to the max volume to drown out his sister. "STOP! STOP! STOP!"
I had my daughter crying. I had my son melting down. The volume from the TV was shaking the house. I wanted to cry but I had to hold it together. Tom is gone so I'm on my own. I've dealt with days like this before. "I can handle this. Like Olivia Pope," I said to myself. I managed to get Natalie to calm down.
"I'm sorry. I just like my potions," Natalie sniffled.
I suggested that next time she use water and food coloring. But downstairs so it doesn't get all over the bathroom.
I went into Tommy's room and found him banging his body against his mattress. He does this often because he likes the sensation against his skin.
"Is it over?" Tommy asked as he slammed his body against the mattress.
"Yes. Could you please turn the TV down?"
Tommy stopped and obeyed. "I'm sorry. It's like glass going across my brain. Am I still mature?" He's always so worried about that. With the Aspergers comes anxiety. He's constantly worried he's disappointing someone. He needs daily reassurance. And you have to reassure him in a regular tone, because if you say it in a snippy tone, he panics. Sometimes I say it in a snippy tone when he's asked me if he's mature for the eighth time that day. I don't mean to but sometimes I'm trying to cook, trying to keep Natalie happy, trying to keep the chicken from burning, and then he comes and asks me the same question he's asked many times that day, the same question that he asks countless times in one month.
"You're still mature," I told Tommy. "But sometimes your sister will overreact. It happens."
"To girls more often," Tommy said, but not rudely, just matter-of-factly.
We got through it. We're okay. It will probably happen again.
But I can handle it.