Ok, so that’s a very dramatic title, but you’ll get my point. I have been waiting for this for forever, not exactly waiting, but more like anticipating or expecting. Saturday is Jason’s 15th birthday. I know it’s Yom Kippur (which actually exacerbates the whole thing) but while I do respect the holiday, we don’t typically go to Synagogue and I try not to be a hypocrite. Jason just started high school and has made some nice new friends. For my birthday gift to him I am taking him to NY for a weekend in November so I really hadn’t focused too much on the celebration for the upcoming weekend. He had floated a few things by me, going to the beach with some friends, going out to dinner, and finally having a few friends sleep over. I do love when the boys have friends sleep over. I love the chaos and the mess of friends having snacks and playing and just doing kid like activities. No offense to my mom, but she liked order and quiet so we were not overly encouraged to have friends over. My kid self promised that when I became my mom self I would not be that way, and I have kept that promise.
Jason came into my room yesterday and wanted to talk. I can always sense something a little serious by his “can I talk to you Mom?” question as opposed to blurting something out. He said, “do you think Bryan can stay at Dad’s if my friends sleep over?” I try really hard in all things in my life not to jump. This is not easy for me and I am always working on my listening skills and my take a deep breath to process before you answer skill. I said “he is your brother, are you embarrassed of him?”(bad mother question) and he said “no you know, these are just new friends and I’m trying to fit in”. Luckily at this point something interrupted our talk and I told him we would talk more later. I felt ashamed by my question because Jason is never embarrassed by him and it wasn’t fair. It might be a fair question for another sibling of a kid with autism, but Jason has proven he embraces Bryan at all levels. And, if he was embarrassed it is understandable, he is human and young. I really couldn’t figure out the right answer. There have only been two times that Bryan was ever excluded from anything. 1. Jason’s pre K graduation. Bryan was 8 and very disruptive and we felt it was Jason’s day and we wanted him to have all of the focus (right decision then and now). 2. He did not attend my Aunt’s funeral. Bryan has very loud nervous laughter, particularly when it comes to death, and I felt it was too raw for my Uncle and my cousins and the laughter would be upsetting. Bryan would also be upset if they were angry with him. (still not sure on this one, Bryan is old enough to understand this and I think I hurt his feelings).
Jason has spoiled me. There have been times where Bryan has been so tough, so loud, so out of control and Jason has not been embarrassed. The first few years the boys were at sleepaway camp and we would bring Bryan to Jason’s camp for visiting day Bryan cried almost the whole day or didn’t eat or was upset. Jason was not only not phased by this, but was so sweet to Bryan. Many times at sports or movies or anything we have had to leave because Bryan couldn’t hack it. Jason has never complained, it is part of our family dynamic and he is intuitive and empathetic. So you see, while I knew it had to come some time, the kid has been so damn evolved and sweet, I thought maybe it just might not ever happen.
I was really stumped. So my instinct, which I typically trust, is no. He is your brother, this is his home too and he needs to be there. I also felt that maybe his friends wouldn’t care one bit. I also had this feeling, what kind of friends can’t meet his brother with autism? Autism is everywhere now, even in tv shows. Are these nice kids? His camp friends have always been great with Bryan and he never before seemed at all concerned about Bryan with them. However, I am not almost 15, I have never had a special needs sibling, so I am no one to judge nor good at walking in his shoes.
Luckily for me, I have great support and after sharing this with my dear friend she suggested why don’t I take Bryan out for the evening to give the kids some privacy. I like the idea of a compromise. I tried to share this with Jason last night and he was only half listening so I knew it would come up again. Tonight I had a few minutes alone with him and I brought it up. I let him know about the compromise but after a lot of discussing other things he came up with some other things he might want to do, but they really had nothing to do with this issue just more of teenage indecisiveness. I could tell he kind of wasn’t finished with the whole thing.
Jason: Mom I feel bad about what I said about Bryan.
Me: Forgive yourself, you are human, and the best brother ever.
Jason: I love Bryan.
Me: He loves you too. Go empty the litter pan.