This one’s a stretch if you don’t have any experience with special needs. I am always happy when the boys get home. I love the camp break and the time to myself but the last two weeks I’m really missing them and by the last few days before they arrive I’m like a little kid waiting for a present. I like my house to be clean but I’m not neurotic about things. I am a “throw-er out-er” so each summer I purge papers, crap and worn out or too small clothes and shoes (yes donate, not throw out). However, no matter how many years in, I am NEVER prepared for the noise that is Bryan. Yes he has made tremendous strides in every way, maturity, self-control, language, independence, but when he returns the summer head-up-my-ass-I-think-I-lead-a-normal-life, ends at a cement wall. I sometimes cannot believe how shocked I am by it. I am his mother, I read him, I feel him, I know his being. But… each time he returns, really from anywhere longer than a week, it is sort of shocking. Let me see if I can give some color to this reality. Imagine it is 5 am and you are already awake because you go to work early. I am a morning person so my get up and go is very good. I go to the bathroom and head downstairs to let the dog out, cat in, etc. I am greeted by an already wide awake Bryan who screams, and I mean screams, “hi mom, I love you”. Yowza!!! I try the usual shushing or quiet down, but it’s fleeting. He will then not stop talking. “I’m going to have breakfast, I will take my meds, I’m going to empty the dishwasher, you’re feeding Riggs, etc.” Then it’s “Mom, mom, mom, mom”, I say “what Bry?” and he makes up something. Nothing bad is said but he’s at 200% plus and I’m about at 50% before at least a few sips of coffee. Like I said, I’m a morning person so I usually can take this better early in the morning than at night when I am wiped. (I’m talking wiped) But come on, even a car needs a little warming up now and then. If you are reading this and you tell me to ignore him, stay away, because that’s like telling someone who is overweight to eat less. Really? Duh? It just doesn’t go that way. Here’s what I grapple with, and it will be challenging for someone without a special needs kid to get this one. He works so so so so so hard at everything and the demands on him are enormous. “Use full sentences, ask appropriate questions, have self control, no touching, no yelling, make eye contact, blah blah blah”. No down time is allowed for him mentally and it’s that much harder for him mentally, the ultimate catch 22. Ask yourself something, could you meet such continual personal demands? As his mother, I literally waiver between “you are shaping young men and you need to make sure they can go out into the world” and “you are my sweet boy and with me you can just let your hair down and be yourself”. Do you see why I’m not well rested??? Do you see that this struggle only gets worse as he gets older and faces independence? Each time I tell him, “Bryan please be quiet” or “Bryan come on you know that is not real or stop asking me 50,000 times if we are going to the movies when the printout of our movie ticket is on the kitchen counter” I am guilty. Most parents have guilt of sorts, I know because I have both a typical and an ASD kid, trust me this is Olympic guilt, not tryouts.
So here is why I like to say Bryan has autism instead of Bryan’s autistic. I know people don’t agree, but it’s my perspective. Bryan himself is all of those wonderful things I described earlier. He is also sweet, affectionate and funny. He is social and warm. However his autism is a characteristic or disorder that challenges us all. He is not difficult to deal with any way, his autism is difficult to deal with and I hold that distinction with the credibility it deserves.
So let’s talk Jason. He just started high school. He got home from camp on Saturday and started school on Monday. A whirlwind for sure, but he knew it ahead of time and was really ok with it. Jason does not have anxiety. Yep, a child of mine does not have anxiety, this alone is sheer proof that it takes two people to make a baby!! He was fine on Sunday night as we went over things and was not concerned that he didn’t know his way around or know too many kids. I was proud and fascinated at the same time. I am smart enough to keep my mouth shut, if the kid isn’t nervous, count your blessings and don’t mention it. However, I was a hot mess. I wasn’t a mess on the outside, while I’m not good at hiding my feelings in general, when I need to step up, I know how to git r done. The hot mess was not about the first day, but rather the realization that I have to face the real world. When your kid has special needs you do not go through normal channels, the last thing you care about is what they got on their homework (if they get any), you are more focused on whether or not they understand their homework, can do it independently and can read and understand what is expected. We are in the big leagues now with Jason and I feel like I missed training camp. I know we are not near SATs or ACTs or any of that stuff, but I have been in this alternative universe with Bryan and now I feel the accountability more than ever is on me. Anyone have a life preserver they can toss me?