Scores of small, angry red crescents from where I clenched my fists so hard this evening that I thought I might be sick with the effort of not shouting. (Really, properly, sick, onto the carpet. Just like that: bleugh, here it comes, stand back, whoosh, mind the splatter.)
Ha, if only.
I can't be sick.
I can't shout.
Grace is the only one who gets to shout. If I shout, all is lost and the situation tips away from us both and we are shipwrecked.
So Grace shouts and I listen and I clench my fists and I speak quietly through gritted teeth and I feel sick and my heart clatters in my chest so hard that I think sometimes I'm going to have a stroke.
Grace shouts a lot, these days. She shouts about a lot of things. The things vary from day to day, but the shouting is constant. Mainly, she's shouting about her total inability to process her frustration at things she can't do, or things she doesn't want to do which she finds she must.
Grace doing things she likes and can do is a summer's day.
Grace confronted by the rest is a cyclone.
I am trying very hard to limit the things she has to do which she doesn't like to do.
I am trying very hard to limit the things she can't do at all.
But I can't get rid of them all.
And, I confess, there are some things I don't want to get rid of because I want her to learn to cope with them.
If I get rid of everything that annoys or distresses her what chance does she have of living some kind of normal life?
I have to find a way to help her find a way, I think. I have to help her to see that she cannot blow her top every time she becomes frustrated. I think. I know that she finds this very very hard. But, I think, I have to help her see that there are ways to control her anger and her fear and her sickness at being unable to control every situation in which she finds herself. I fear that otherwise, her autism will define her more and more and drive her further into isolation.
I look at the red weals on my hands and I wonder what the hell I'm doing and whether I'm still doing it right.
The last two weeks have been very very bad. I am very tired. Grace is very tired.
Tonight she screamed so hard as she threw herself on the floor that I was frightened our neighbours might think I was hurting her. The effort of not running to her and grabbing her arms and hauling her up and shouting at her to stop made running that bloody marathon last year feel like running for the bus. But I didn't shout. (Go, me. I didn't shout.) I stood in the doorway of another room and I told my daughter what I thought she should do to resolve the situation and then I shut the door and left her to shout it out until she had to think it through for herself.
In a minute I'll go back up to her room and tuck her into bed again and brush her hair off her face, like always, and tell her, like always, when she asks anxiously in the aftermath, like always, that I do still love her and always will and that I'm fine, really.
It's just - my hands hurt.