Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Not Joining Until Ready

This morning I got in the playroom while in a slight bad mood with Joaquin. I realized I didn’t want to give him control over me; he had nagged me plenty in the morning and I had resisted very uncomfortably.

So as soon as I went in, pencil and paper on hand, Joaquin asked me mama, what do we need to buy? (ready to start a shopping list; something he does a lot). My response was I don’t want to shop right now; I’d rather do something else. He asked me a couple more times. I said I’d rather play something different this time, and I drew a tic tac toe game which he joined. Then he told me to draw a different game. We played one loop of dots and squares. Then he said he wanted us to draw a map.

Although feeling better, I still wasn’t ready to join Joaquin’s recurring games, and since I saw him starting to draw his map with excitement, I decided to “join” in parallel—and ism—making my own map. I wanted to be exclusive in that moment. Rather than doing a map of streets like Kiki does, I drew a map of this house, and I colored the different rooms like I used to color countries in school maps. I remembered how much I loved drawing geography maps back then.

After a while I felt better, and when Joaquin asked me again to make a shopping list, I was ready to make my dream shopping list: About $40,000 in Option Institute/ATCA programs for me, Joey, our volunteers, and my mom).

I loved making this list and pretending to buy all this stuff later on with Joaquin (when I was finally ready to drive with him and get him dressed with crazy pretend clothes). And when we finished checking out I jumped and cheered with the excitement I’d feel if I in fact had just bought all these classes. The thought crossed my mind: What if this attracts a $40,000 donation that makes this dream come true?… And I smiled inside, and thanked Kiki for giving me space this morning and for inviting me to dream this awesome dream.

So this is not how I teach my volunteers to join. But I’m not afraid of sharing this with them, and showing that I don’t always have a happy and accepting attitude. And so what?… The sooner I accept myself and work with what I have, the sooner I get over my stressful thoughts. One year ago I might have done this morning differently, and today I think that what I did today was perfect. And all the heaviness I felt this morning is gone :)

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