I love seeing Hannah so excited and happy. The image of her huge smile and jumping up to run and get her swimsuit when I told her we were going to Aunt Mary’s house played over and over in my mind. At just eight years old, she was already a great swimmer. It was her favorite activity. Not to mention seeing her cousin, Jeremy, one of her most favorite people on earth. Combine those two things, and you’ve made a perfect world for Hannah.
When we got out of the car, Hannah ran to the door. We went in and said our hello’s.
“Can we swim now?”
“Well, Hannah,” Mary said in a nervous voice, “Uncle Tom didn’t know that we were going to use the pool this morning, and he just treated it. So we won’t be able to swim for a few hours.”
Oh no! Hannah knows she’s got appointments this afternoon so she won’t be able to swim at all today. A sudden change like this could throw her into a huge meltdown. This may not be pretty.
Hannah’s jaw dropped and her eyes filled with tears.
“Mom! You said we could swim today” she yelled and began to cry.
“It was just a mistake, Hannah. We can come swim another day.”
“Why did you tell me we could swim when we can’t?”
“I thought we could, hun, but Uncle Tom didn’t know.” She began sobbing and fell to the floor.
I looked at Hannah and then at my sister. Even after years of training, for some reason, I could not think of what to do.
“Okay, we’re gonna have to go home.”
Hannah cried louder and began to hit her fists on the floor.
“Come on, Hannah.” I reached for her hand, but she slid on her stomach across the floor away from me.
I walked over to her, put my hands under her arms, and stood her up.
“Let’s go, Hannah!”
She threw herself back to the floor.
If this had been her older brother or sister, she would have had a spanking for this.
“Marlene, I am so sorry! What can I do to help you?” Mary’s voice was filled with compassion.
“There really isn’t anything you can do, but its ok. We’ll work through it once I get her home,” I said as I struggled to lift Hannah and carry her to the door.
Hannah began screaming.
Just as I got her to the door, she squirmed out of my arms and fell to the floor.
Oh my God! I hate going through this in front of people.
“Come on, Hannah, we’ve got to go home.”
She screamed louder and quickly scooted away from me.
I gave her three spanks on her butt.
Her screams grew shrill as her arms and legs began flailing.
I gave her three more spanks, but to no avail.
“Mary, get the door please and the door to my car.”
Mary rushed to do as I asked.
I picked Hannah up, carried her out to the car and got her in her seat belt as I endured the screams, hits, and kicks.
“Again, I am so sorry this happened,” Mary said as she hugged me.
“It’s okay. It’s not anyone’s fault. These things just happen sometimes.”
“Please call me if there’s anything I can do.”
“I will. Thanks.”
Hannah thrashed her arms and legs in the back seat most of the way home, but finally began to calm down.
Once we were home, she went in her room and surrounded herself with her books. Her books had always been like a security blanket to her.
After a few minutes, I went in, sat on the floor, put her on my lap, and just held her.
She began to cry.
“I’m sorry, mom. I don’t like it when I get that upset, cuz I feel really bad after.”
“I know, hun, and I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have spanked you. I should have taken the time to work through this with you right there. I’m really sorry.”
“We need to find a way to help you to not get so upset when something like this doesn’t work out.”
“Yeah, cuz I don’t like it.”
“I have an idea. How about we make a plan B and maybe even a plan C to have in place for any time that something you’re really excited about doesn’t work out? That way, you’ll already know ahead of time what’s going to happen if plan A doesn’t work.”
“Ok, mom, but what could we do?”
“Well, that’s partly up to you. We need to think of a couple things that would be really fun for you. Why don’t you take a little time and think about it and let me know what you come up with? Okay?”
“Okay, mom. This gives me something fun to think about.” I was glad to see her smile return.
I hugged her tight.
“I love you so much, mom.”
“I sure do love you too, sweet girl.”
I went out to the living room, got my Bible and looked up the scriptures that had helped me years before when I was told that spanking Hannah may cause her to continue being self-abusive due to autism.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
I read the note I had written in the margin, “The word ‘train’ means ‘dedicate’ in the original Hebrew.”
Psalm 23:4 “…Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
Again I read the note in the margin. “A good shepherd never beats his sheep. The rod is used to beat the enemy and protect the sheep. That’s why it’s comforting.”
I thought about the compassion in Mary’s voice.
That really was amazing considering how I used to judge her for not “disciplining” her children the way I did my older two. My God, I was so prideful. Was? What about today? Maybe it was pride that kept me from working through things at Mary’s house. Yes, I guess it was. The tables were turned and I didn’t like it. That’s why I couldn’t think straight and reverted back to the way I used to handle situations like this. Pride is an awful enemy, but God is beating that enemy away from me.
“Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of these scriptures. Thank You for showing me that the enemy coming against me was pride. It’s okay to not have all the answers, even in front of other people. I just need to turn to You, because You are the answer. Thank You for being so patient with me. Thank You for loving me even when I blow it.”
“Thank You for showing me that the enemy coming against Hannah today was disappointment and unfulfilled expectations. Thank You for giving me Your wisdom to talk to her and together come up with a plan to have in place for something she would really enjoy doing the next time this happens. You are so good to us and You take wonderful care of us. Thank You, Lord!”