Divide and Conquer

You can sort this post under the category of stopping to take notice of things that may seem trivial to some, but are major to us. This weekend Earl took Bryan to NY for 3 nights. The purpose of the visit is to attend a very close friend of ours son’s Bar Mitzvah. They just attended Bryan’s Bar Mitzvah so the shared celebration in and of itself is noteworthy. The husband in this family has been a very close friend of Earl’s since childhood and has been Earl’s emotional touchstone on our autism journey. They have two boys and it’s their younger son’s Bar Mitzvah. They have raised their boys to be genuine, caring young men and the younger boy is truly a friend to Bryan. All good. (Earl mentioned to me that no matter how many times Bryan says “I love you” to Eric, he says it back. Can you imagine a 13 year old boy being so kind and understanding? Most kids would think it was weird or awkward and run. Nature and nurture. Some of it’s him and some of it is good parenting). Either way it’s to be celebrated. So what is so special or thought provoking that has caused me to blog about this? Earl and his parenting. Today he is going out for lunch in Manhattan at the Cornell Club with about 6 or 7 of his closest friends. I’m not a name dropper but the fact that our friend Lloyd that belongs there invited Bryan and all of the fellas is a testament to the kind of parent Earl is. He literally has no ego or self consciousness when it comes to Bryan. It is a remarkable thing and I will never get over it. Since Bryan was diagnosed he has never said, I don’t want to take him to X or Y. He said, “let’s treat him like a typical child.” And, not in the way of, I’m in denial, he doesn’t really have autism, but more in the way of, if you want your kid to function in the real world, expose him to it. Show it to him, don’t hide him away like you are ashamed of him. We had YEARS of leaving things early, dealing with screaming, and tremendous anxiety. I spoke with Earl last night and this morning. Bryan is basically not eating and perseverating about going home on Sunday. puzzlefamilyAlthough he trusts us and knows he is not going to camp yet, until he is on the plane going home, he still will have some anxiety. The huge difference at this point is that he is more in control of himself and his body and he can self soothe to some extent. In earlier years it would be brutal for one of us to be alone with him for 4 days. Not because he isn’t a loving, sweet boy, but because the deep place within yourself you must find to not lose your patience, your resilience, was the ultimate challenge. The inner struggle between wanting to be that good parent with all of the answers and the human who wants to say screw this can really be a battle. I feel we have won the war for the most part, but every now and then you have to take out your armor just to make sure no rust has built up!
In any event, I must admit I am envious of this lunch that they are going to today. I love all of these fellas and they love Earl and me individually and collectively. Bryan, while unable to at this point in his life to navigate real friendships by typical standards, will witness lifelong bonds before his eyes. Modeling at its finest. Earl is the most loyal person I have ever known and most of the friends he is seeing have been by his side for decades. Although Bryan will not talk about it, the pride that a boy feels with his Dad when they are just hanging with the fellas; it will not be lost on Bryan even if he can’t express it in words.
Here on the home front Jason and I have been in major snuggle mode. He slept in my bed (no Oedipus comments he won’t be little that much longer) and I was wedged between him and Riggs (our mini Australian Shepherd). Pure heaven. Jason, in keeping with his on the job training as junior psychologist, asked me if I spoke with Dad or Bryan this morning. He was busy playing Minecraft and obviously didn’t hear the phone. I said yes and that Daddy said Bryan had been pacing since in the hotel since 4 am and had not eaten barely anything since they got there. Jason listened and said, “he never eats when we go anywhere. He gets anxiety. When he gets hungry, he’ll eat. Don’t be sad Mom”. Then he proceeded to tell me about the house he built in Minecraft. Never missed a beat. I choked back a few tears. He’s so matter of fact about Bryan. I said to him, “I’m so glad I can talk to you about Bryan, I know you really understand him.”. He said, “yes. I know him the best.” Interesting comment but on some level it’s true. You see for Jason, he doesn’t know what it’s like to live without autism so for him it’s just part of everyday life.

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One thought on “Divide and Conquer

  1. That quality that Earl has is SO rare. You almost never see it in women. The ability to treat everyone the same. Rich, poor…doesn’t matter…everybody gets a fair chance. Never wonders about what the neighbors will think, etc. My dad (another great father) had that quality. It must go hand in hand with loyalty…he had that, too. He died at the age of 80 (outliving most of his friends) and yet 400 people showed up at his funeral.

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