I know a lot of parents can relate to this during the toddler years, but Maeve cannot handle so much as a drop of water on her clothing. She is about to turn seven, and I feel as though it is only getting worse. The second she is splashed, the clothes come off. It doesn’t matter where, when or who is around. The clothes are off. We are fortunate that this usually doesn’t result in a meltdown full of tears, but it is definitely an issue. She will casually take off whatever article of clothing has a minuscule amount of liquid on it, without thinking twice.
I had almost forgotten how much of a challenge outdoor summer activities (water table, sprinkler, inflatable pool, etc.) can be, especially living on a corner lot with a low fence. We are on a fairly busy street in a neighbourhood that seems to have a never ending flow of pedestrian traffic. People cannot seem to resist the temptation of peering over our five foot fence to see what’s going on in our backyard. I cannot count how many times I have made unintentional eye contact through the wooden planks at someone walking by. It always reminds me of the accidental eye contact in a public bathroom stall. It’s the worst. I am constantly catching people trying to peer in through the fence slats, trying to catch a glimpse of the screeching giggling girl. I’ve heard kids on their bikes riding by and laughing at the little naked girl running around in her yard. It is not for a lack of trying, we are constantly trying to throw clothes back on her as quickly as possible – but she is so quick! Back in the good old days when we were actually allowed to have friends and family over, I could see people squirm, not knowing whether or not it was okay to laugh when she would strip down. We have a tendency to laugh it off – because pfft what else can we do?
It can be really heartbreaking watching it all play out. Maeve loves being sprayed with the hose, going in the pool and skipping through the sprinkler, but I can see the internal struggle that she goes through while wearing a wet bathing suit. She will constantly pull at it, away from her body trying to decide whether or not the fun she is having is worth the feeling of the wet fabric on her skin. My poor little bug, always having to deal with the extra hurdles life has thrown at her. Who wouldn’t want to run through the sprinkler naked, or sneak in for a quick skinny dip if you knew nobody could see you? The problem is, Maeve is never aware, nor does she care if anyone sees her.
Everyone tries to reassure me that she is still young, and it’s not that big of a deal. She isn’t going to be young forever, and unlike neurotypical children, she rarely moves on from her obsessions. This isn’t just a new little phase that she will easily grow out of. I’m aware that this is something we need to continue working on. At this point in her life, a splash pad or public pool are out of the question. Because of things like this, we have to be very selective about the friends and family we invite over. This is Maeve’s home, and I want it to remain her “safe” space forever. Not just from the obvious scary things, but from the lack of empathy and compassion that we have noticed in so many people we had thought were the same as us.
With lumber prices being what they are, I’ve had to get a little more creative. I just purchased 50 feet of outdoor fabric to line the fence and give Maeve a little more privacy. This is my life. Always trying to find these bandaid solutions, in order to pretend that our life is somewhat normal. It is my responsibility to ensure that when she is home, Maeve feels like she can truly be herself and feel free! Even if it means that I have to build one of those massive indoor soccer domes over the yard in order to accomplish this, I will.
I am a stay-at-home mom in my 40s, still finding it hard to believe that this is my title in life. Mom of two young girls and married to a pilot (in other words… part time single parent). I am ‘Auntie Boom’ to Willowjak, and have the tattoo to prove it! My youngest was diagnosed with autism at 2, and finally a rare genetic disorder called DDX3X at 5. I’m almost always tired, and I feel as though my goal in life is to survive. I’m sure that I am not alone on this quest.