The Great ‘Put On’

“Put on…. Put on… Put on shirt… Put on shoes… Put on pants… Put on glasses… Put on coat… Put on… Put on… Put on.” I’ve been chanting these words steadily and calmly a lot lately while dealing with a squirmy, slippery, Houdini-like, going limp three-year-old. Whether it’s autism, sensory, or just being a three-year-old asserting his will, Josiah has been expressing his distaste with some transitions recently.

My little Batman in his costume pjs.

My little Batman in his costume pjs.

It’s a good thing Josiah’s so darn cute because he’s driving me a little crazy with getting things on him. Have you ever seen those Loony Tune’s cartoons where someone can’t scream out loud so they scream in a jar, close the lid, and then run out to the hills to let the scream out? That’s how I feel. Blood pressure rising as I very calmly (most of the time) try to just keep steadily saying “Put on… (one arm in) Good boy! (got the arm back out–argghh!) Put on…”

If he’s wearing his pajama shirt, he protests putting on his day shirt. Then when it’s time to put on the pajama shirt at day’s end, he doesn’t want to take off his day shirt. When I go to put on his pants for the day, that little guy has been kicking the pants away, accompanied by kind of a growly scream of distaste. I think, “It should not take five minutes to put on a pair of pants!!!” He just got new shoes. Didn’t want to wear those. Halloween costume. Had to work for it–and they were just pjs with a cape. Winter coat? Nope. Winter hat? Not a chance.

If there’s anything I have learned it’s that you’ve got to follow through. You can’t give in. The hard part with little kids with autism is that you can’t bribe, reason, threaten, or naughty-chair them into compliance, at least not at the stage Josiah’s at. You’ve got to follow through, offer reinforcers, sing, praise, and bring in a marching band to communicate, “Yes. Do it that way, because then you will get a delightful reaction.” Now, they can also take a bad reaction as attention they want to go for too, so you’ve got to be so careful exactly how you react. Lord, grant me patience!

Once Josiah gets these things on, he calms down and he’s fine. But then we get to repeat the process again later. I don’t get it. Now, we’ve had some big victories! He did go from wearing short sleeves to long sleeves, as long as he could push the sleeves up. After a year of wearing his glasses, he decided he was done with that for two weeks. Well, he’s now wearing those just fine again. At school, they did get him to wear those new shoes. The process can just be so very frustrating, but I admit the victories are sweet.

I came across a scripture passage the other day, and it reminded me that my Heavenly Father keeps telling me to “Put on… put on… put on.” But sometimes I squirm because I don’t wanna right then. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Clothe yourselves with compassion. Put on kindness. Put on humility. Put on gentleness and patience. And above all, put on love.” Come on. Do it. Just do it, Tahni. It’s so much easier if you don’t resist.

Lord, help me to every morning put on patience and love before I ever encounter anyone in my day, so I will be ready. Help me remember how patient you are with me, and to be very patient with my beautiful little boy. Because, even if it’s a struggle I can’t let him get frostbite during this Minnesota winter even though he’d prefer to wear shorts and a t-shirt.


4 Responses

  1. That is really interesting how he is okay and then not.

  2. I love this! Such a beautiful analogy, and just what I needed today!

    We always have transition problems with clothing when the seasons change. Going from shorts to pants is a challenge. It’s kind of humorous – R is still walking around holding her pant legs up b/c she doesn’t like the feel of them on her skin.

    In the future, when I am struggling with her to put on her clothes (I think you know she would totally prefer to only wear her birthday suit at all times), I am going to remember Col. 3:12-14. Thanks so much for this.

    Josiah is gorgeous. You must be one tough mama not to “give in” when he flashes a smile with those dimpled cheeks!

  3. I can relate. My son used to have seasonal clothing transitional problems. Thankfully he has gotten away from that, but we still struggle with things like new shoes, etc. He has in his mind that all things should be certain colors (so we try and remind family of this when buying him clothes) – shoes are black with velcro, jackets are always navy blue, pants have to be overalls and a denim or dark color (NO tan or royal blue although he has made one exception for his favorite red engineer-striped pair), pajamas are always blue (except for one red pair with white reindeer) and zip-up with NO feet, and shirts are no as bad of a struggle as long as they are no orange or bringt green. Don’t forget the rules change without notice. (I really wish he would send out a memo!!!) But anyway, I can relate. I hope things continue to get better with that and thanks for the Col. 3 reminder! 🙂

  4. I’m still thinking about this post, and the other day I was reminded of Eph. 6 — “Put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…”

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