A loud THUMP reverberates through the house, jarring me out of sleep. My initial shock quickly fades to resignation. Guess I’m up now. The culprit is my kid in the next room, slamming himself into his bed again. One of these days he’s going to break through the floor and crash into the kitchen table below his room.
My alarm clock, set for 5am, apologetically reports the time as 4:30.
I shut off the alarm and force myself out of bed, as my brain mumbles:
What time is it? 4:30. It’s not late. No. No. It’s early, early, early.
My kid isn’t alone in his ability to call up song-associations to every situation. My brain finds them even when I’m half-asleep.
I grab my clothes off the dresser where I staged them last night and close the bedroom door quietly behind me. At least one of us can try to get back to sleep. My shower will have to wait. My only goal now: reaching the coffee pot downstairs before the boy emerges from his room. I pass his closed bedroom door–his light isn’t on yet, so I’ve got a few precious moments to start that caffeine remedy.
I’ve never been a morning person, but my 5am wake-up is supposed to give me an hour to caffeine-up and have some quiet time before my son gets up. On mornings like this when he usurps my solitude, I pray to the coffee gods to work their magic quickly.
I don’t know how anyone can wake up like that, crashing on the bed hard enough to shake the whole house. Thankfully, he doesn’t do that every morning. Sometimes he’s upset, but most of the time, the rattling of the house just signals that he’s awake RIGHT NOW.
When he comes out of his room, he grabs his beads from the chair in the hallway, turns on both the hall light and the glaring stairway light (which I usually leave off in my early morning quest for serenity), and begins his loud verbal repertoire of humming and scripting and repetitive words. His beads click and spin in his hands as he stomps heavily and (this time) happily down the stairs.
Good morning, Monday.
For a kid who has limited verbal ability, my son makes a lot of noise. This is most apparent when he’s on break from school—as he has been for the last two weeks, his “summer break” before returning to his year-round school. His chatter and drumming and stomping and booming fill the house all day long.
It seems counterproductive to tell a barely verbal kid to shut it, and he can rarely comply anyway. He’s learning to adjust his volume, but his verbal stimming is as necessary for him as silence is for me. Let’s just say on some days, he’s not the only one wearing earplugs. Sometimes blocking him out is the kindest thing I can do.
On school days, I sneak in some solitude on the return commute from his school, when the car radio is back in my control. I walk our dog at the park or around the block before work. I grab slivers of “me” time so that I have some patience left over when he comes home.
The end of the day can be the toughest. When my husband and I need to decompress from the day, as our own sensory systems scream for a chance to turn our brains off for a bit, my kid is typically doing the opposite. His own decompression strategy involves full-body bouncing and jumping, frenetic bead-spinning, top-volume giggle fits. Loud and louder.
When my son’s earplugs aren’t doing enough to block out sounds that bother him, he makes his own noise to drown it out. A laudable strategy, except when the noise he is trying to drown out is me. Or his parents’ conversation at the dinner table. Drumming on the table, scripting, singing, humming. We can’t get a word in. Combined with his inability to chew with his mouth closed—related in some way to his sensory issues in touch, smell or taste—it is a wonder we share a dinner table at all. Some nights, we just don’t. For the sake of sanity, we split our mealtimes by time or location so all of us can eat in peace.
To coexist successfully, sometimes we have to give ourselves a break from each other. My husband and I negotiate—who is more overloaded at the moment by the 130 lb. whirlwind that shares our living space?—and we tag team our breaks. We’ve learned to encourage our boy to hang out in his room if he needs to be louder than we can handle, or we excuse ourselves from the downstairs circus to hide upstairs for a reprieve.
After the boy goes to bed, my husband stays up late to have the television to himself without the competing noise and movement. I usually can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I finally get a shower and set out my clothes for tomorrow.
5am comes early around here.
…early, early, early…
This post was written as part of the June Sensory Blog Hop!
Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!