I’m teetering on the edge these days. Teetering, I tell you. Worry is scattered along the sand. I’m walking in and out of it all, around it, trying not to get any of it on me.
In fact, the beach of my mind these days is awash with debris, as if far out at sea, a violent storm reached down through layers of ocean water and scooped up the sand in angry fistfuls, roiled the waters and spit the underbelly on the sand. Worry, fear, envy, loneliness.
Fluffy is lots of things too, lots of f words: fantastic, funny, fast, floundering, flailing, frustrated, flummoxed, furious, fearful.
The house is for sale but so far, no one is buying. At first, I made the house sparkle, displayed vases of freshly cut flowers
throughout, offered cookies to prospective buyers with my brightest smile. Now I block the front door with my arms folded across my perimenopausal amplitude, jut my chin in their direction and bark, HEY! ARE YOU GONNA BUY THIS HOUSE OR WHAT?
We’re moving back to Northampton soon after labor day, regardless. We’re taking everything despite the urgings of some to leave things here, to “stage” the place. I can’t. I want to be in one place. I want to be home. I want to be settled. But we won’t be, even when we move. We’ll be in a new rental. We can’t really be home until we decide what to do about Fluffy’ schooling.
For now, homeschooling is the answer. But for always? I don’t know. I want to find the perfect school. I don’t know where that is. I am willing to wait for that school to materialize. I am willing to move for that school. I am willing to create
that school. All that takes time, time and trust, time to see where Fluffy is going, who he is becoming, and what is coming into form, what needs attention, how much and what kind.
He’s social. This I know. He’s a deeply social. And despite how some object to characterizations of autistic kids being TRAPPED inside and blah blah blah, my experience as Fluffy’s mom is that, in some ways, this is absolutely true. There are aspects of him, of his personality, temperment, and heart and soul that ARE stuck underneath a confusion of sounds and feeling and impulses, as if he is fifteen or twenty radio stations simultaneously and variably, tuned.
Not always. But sometimes.
He wants to play with the kids.
I want him to play with the kids.
I am learning how to let him take the lead on this, how to trust his timing. And also how to provide the necessary support. It’s not always clear how to do this.
I am a bit lost.
Fluffy tells me to back off. He uses different words but the message is the same. When he is around the other kids, it’s hard enough. He doesn’t need me fluttering about, leaking anxiety.
Fluffy is very aware. He knows he is different. He knows he doesn’t know what to do. He acts in ways that pushes kids away and then, when he’s alone, he punches himself in the head and calls himself Stupid.
I thought we could avoid this part. I thought I could shield him from this. I thought I could protect him from feeling badly about himself. I thought I was that powerful.
I hear talk about whether it’s okay to want your kids to be indistinguishable from the NTs, is that wrong or right, a good or harmful wish or goal, etc, etc. When my son is near a group of boys that are playing in the sand, racing down the walkway to leap over and over again into the sand, when I see him sit closer and closer to watch out of the corner of his eye but then never join, instead, dribble spit on his fingertips, fill his hat with sand and dump it on his head, over and over, I think, Do I need him to run with those kids? No. Do I wish he would? YES. Do I believe he wants to be running with those kids? YES.
Am I right?
My mother instinct says yes.
Fuck that talk about indistinguishability. It isn’t about wanting my kid to disappear in the crowd, it’s about wanting him to appear in the crowd, to be part of it, however small.
Action has meaning only in relationship and without understanding relationship, action on any level will only breed conflict. The understanding of relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action.
We are human beings. We are about relationships, relationships with ourselves and with others.
That’s what I want for my son. And in that way, yes, I long for him to be indistinguishable from any other human.