David is our second child. I know that is it not unusual for parents to be more relaxed with the second child, more lenient with rules, less structured with the routine. When you add autism into the mix, at least in my experience, it makes you have a totally different perspective.
I hesitated, although only for a moment, before writing Thursday's post about David stepping on a piece of glass. I momentarily felt like I should justify why he was outside without shoes—or maybe even rationalize it in my own mind. I never allowed Andrew outside without shoes, but with David it is a different story. Honestly, he did not ask my permission before he bolted out of the kitchen door, but I have not been strict about his footwear anyway. For a long time, David had sensory issues and would not have considered going barefoot. He would not even walk through the grass with sandals on because he could still feel the grass on his feet—one of the reasons why some kids with autism toe walk. So, the fact that he will walk on the deck, on a sidewalk, in the grass without shoes is, for David, a milestone.
I was reminded of my paradigm shift last night at bedtime as I rounded the corner into my bathroom to discover David, smiling as always especially when he thinks he might be about to get into trouble, using his leftover toothpaste to write his name on our mirror in a lovely shade of Kids Crest. Had it been Andrew, I would have grabbed the toothbrush, put it back in the drawer and hurried him off to bed. If I had been in mean Mommy mode, I may have even made him clean the mirror.
But this was David. David who rarely, willingly at least, puts a pencil to paper, marker to dry erase board, crayon to coloring book. So, when I caught him in the act, I did grab his hand, but instead of scolding him, I found myself saying "Here, let's make an A." I have to say that I still have some scruples. I may have stopped him if he had been using mascara. I certainly would not have allowed nail polish, but if I had thought of it last night, I probably would have handed him a tube of my lipstick.