When I tell people that my firstborn son is autistic, most of them can hardly believe it.
"Why, he looks NOTHING like 'Rain Man,'" they say, as though a 10-year old with a shock of black hair would look anything like a 40-year old Dustin Hoffman.
I nod, sometimes explaining that all people with autism don't count cards, sometimes I just shrug my shoulders in a "what can you do kinda way," other times I roll my eyes inwardly.
Apparently you need to be a Dustin Hoffman clone to have autism.
Anyway, most of my friend who have kids on the spectrum have toddlers with food issues. Small ones who hate to be touched. Little ones with problems learning to talk.
Tween years? They bring out a WHOLE new side of the spectrum.
It's almost as though I'd like those food aversion years back. Almost like I'd happily embrace the challenges of potty training a kid with sensory problems. I'd almost take back the heartbreak of having a baby who preferred his mobile to other people.
Because this puberty stuff? It's bullshit.
Sure, I know I was an ass to my Mom and probably was a little harder on her than I should've been. I probably could've eased up on the attitude some. While I'm thinking on it, I should send her a subscription to the Cheese of the Month club or something just to say I'm sorry.
(do they have a "Cheese of the Month Club?" Here's hoping.)
When you add an already...challenging...way of communicating to the hormonal mood swings of puberty, and you throw a dash of "I'm ten and therefore right about ALL THE THINGS," you have my son. Most of the time.
The other part of the time, he's as calm and placid as can be; helping around the house, playing with his siblings, being an overall awesome kid.
Until I dare open my mouth to say something like, "Can you please do your reading at Grandma's today?" Which will subject me to an hour long discourse into why this is, in fact, a stupid idea, because OMFG MOM *eye roll* I DON'T HAVE BOOKS THERE. Like he has to trek to the Serengeti with only a backpack filled with vital, life-sustaining water and supplies to get to her house or something, rather than take a ride in her air-conditioned Civic with a book on his lap.
Because it's not yet "routine" for him, it's outside of the realm of his ability to comprehend.
I get it - I do. Try to go a Saturday WITHOUT taking me out for a coffee (Dunkin Donuts will do, nothing fancy here) - it's my one guilty pleasure and I look forward to it all week. So you try and say, "no, not this week?" I'll probably mope. Then I'll go about my day feeling like *something* is missing.
But I'm not going to subject YOU to listening to a soliloquy, feet-stamping and hand-gestures and all, because, well, yeah. I guess I'm not going through puberty.
I *know* this is normal. I *know* I'll get over it. And I *know* he'll grow out of this (probably).
But until then, I'll be holed up under my bed with a ham sandwich and a flashlight, hiding from my eldest.