I knew the day would come. We have reached the point where Bryan has become the easier child. Now don’t get all excited, he hasn’t recovered from autism, he still has all of his issues, his constant repeating, his getting up early, his limited and often inappropriate communication. But on balance, right now, he’s easier to deal with than Jason, who is fresh (just so you know, I don’t tolerate fresh well at all), spoiled, and just tough. He is clearly going through a phase and looking for attention.
Here’s how it goes.
1. Eating: Bryan is a virtual eating machine. He has none of the sensory issues that many kids with autism have regarding food. He is hyposensitive not hypersensitive. He doesn’t really eat veggies, but he eats meat, bread, cereal, cheese, fruit, etc. He doesn’t care if it’s too hot or too cold, whole wheat, seeded, unseeded, you get the point. Jason is the other way. This turkey is too dry, this turkey is the bad turkey, I liked that turkey last week, but I don’t like it this week. This pop tart is too hot, this one is not hot enough. At dinner the other night we were having spaghetti. Bryan ate plenty. When he was done he was having ice cream for dessert. He prefers vanilla but if we only have chocolate or coffee or mint chocolate chip in the house, he really doesn’t care. Jason however, tries to figure just exactly how many bites of spaghetti he must eat, (this is after he has already ditched the first plate since he didn’t like that sauce and now is having butter on his spaghetti), to get to dessert. After two bites and asking if this was enough to get to dessert, Earl looked at him with exasperation and said “we don’t negotiate with terrorists!” We all laughed, Jason gets us, thankfully, and proceeded to have a few more bites of spaghetti.
2. Mornings: Bryan wakes up too early and that is not fun for us. But he kisses me good morning and he is sweet and gentle now. After he has breakfast, he goes upstairs, and unprompted, picks out his clothes, showers, uses deodorant, brushes his teeth, gets dressed, makes his bed and scolds me to make his lunch if I have not done so. Kids with autism, like many of us but to a greater degree, crave routines and they follow them to the letter. He likes to take baths in our big bathtub on the weekends. He is a little too old for me to see him do this but I walked in on him Sunday morning and he said “Mom, where’s the nail brush?” I was on the phone with my Mom at the time and we both laughed. Jason is tired, and practically has to be dragged up to the shower, still asks me to pick out his clothes, must be reminded 5 times to make his bed, and is always lagging behind. Bryan tries to hurry him along. “Jason get in the shower. Jason make your bed.”
I know you are not supposed to compare your children, you’re not supposed to eat fatty foods either.
3. Around the house: If I ask Jason to help out, like feed the dogs or take them out, he will tell me he fed them yesterday or took them out yesterday. You see where that conversation goes. Bryan does limited chores, but if you give him one he does it. If we ask him to take the dustbuster and use it on the steps to vacuum the dog hair, he does it and puts the dustbuster away. No whining, no fuss. When Mom asks you do it, end of story.
4. Bedtime: Bryan is tired. “Mommy, Daddy, I can go to sleep. Goodnight.I give you a kiss goodnight. That’s it. No stories, no drama, out. Jason, “Mommy come up with me, Mommy please read a story, Mommy I see a monster, and then he makes up a bunch of stuff that I need to call bullshit about. Don’t get me wrong, putting a kid to bed is one of life’s sweetest moments and Jason and I often have some serious “pillow talk” but some nights the drama surrounding it can get old. I love the cuddling, but when he makes up things or pouts or gives me a hard time for no reason, it’s exhausting.
Why does this matter? Well it does if you live in our house. It is important to take notice of the change, the ease in which we now live with Bryan. The future is still unknown, the overall anxiety he deals with is still present, but compared to a few years ago, when he used to beat the crap out of me physically and mentally I couldn’t get my head straight from worry; the peace and the tranquility are welcome friends. For years it felt like he was completely a daddy’s boy. Although he loved me, and knew I loved him, we didn’t have the connection we have now. We walk arm in arm wherever we go. He looks at me differently, the walls are down. I know things have changed, but more importantly he knows. It’s as if he knows he isn’t going to hurt me anymore so he feels better too. He has more control of himself, and who doesn’t feel better when they have more control? On Saturday I was in a store with the boys shopping for clothes. Bryan and I were walking arm and arm and Jason said, “Walk with your arms around me Mom, not Bryan”. I said “I have two arms, one for each of you” and he said “no, just me”. We’ve never had that before.