From: Happy Aspies
“Would you smile for me, Mama?” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Wolfie say this to me after we have had a hard day. For someone who has Asperger’s, he sure knows how to read me.
Tonight was a little different. He asked the question as he was taking a shower, and yes, I was washing him in a frantic way because I could hear Hammy starting to rev up again in the next room, and so I flashed him a smile and started going about my business again. That wasn’t enough for him.
“No. A really big one this time,” he said.
Have you ever tried to smile for a picture you really don’t want to have taken, or smile through a stressful time just to make nice? It felt kind of like that, only much worse. I couldn’t do it and make it real.
God, I felt so guilty about that. I mean here he is asking me for a smile and some reassurance that I am not angry with him. Why was that so hard?
It had something to do with the sort of day we had. I think it also has something to do with not being able to keep anything from him. The kid hears everything. He could be in another room making street signs, which is one of his favorite past times, and still hear the conversation going on in the next room. It isn’t just that he hears it, he absorbs it and then wants to talk about it.
It’s also that he is so smart and he understands things that most kids his age don’t or wouldn’t care to. Like right now he is worried that we don’t have enough money. I keep telling him that yes, money is tight, but we have what we need and in a lot of ways more than what we need.
I hate that he worries about that. I feel sometimes that I have failed as a parent because he doesn’t have that innocence or naivety that would insulate him from the problems of the world. And then I wake up and remember that he has Asperger’s, and he never really had that innocence about the big stuff.
Isn’t that funny? He is so naive when it comes to the small stuff, like when it is appropriate or expected to talk or what the expected tone of voice to use with a friend is or how to play with someone without taking over completely. I call this the small stuff, but sometimes it feels huge and complicated. And it is to some degree, but no where near as hefty as the big stuff.
Fear of death, fear of dark clouds,thunder, money. These things he has no shortage of information on and will ask ten million questions about and never be satisfied with the answers.
The stuff I want him to pay attention to he largely ignores and the stuff I want to protect him from he gravitates toward. That, right there, is why I had a hard time smiling tonight. That and the several meltdowns that I tried desperately to shush while work was trying to be done below in Eliot’s office.
As I stood in the bathroom waiting for Wolfie to turn off the water I looked at myself in the mirror trying to make myself presentable for the outside world. My mind was going a million miles an hour. I was thinking about the grocery list and how I wanted to get the boys in bed soon so that I could shop alone this evening, and how much longer would Eliot be in a meeting so I could actually leave.
“Are you happy with me, Mama?” That was like a knife to the heart. I opened the shower door.
“Of course I am happy with you,” I said to him and I felt myself smile all over. He was smiling at me and so clearly satisfied with my response. All I could think then and what I am thinking now is that I am so incredibly lucky. There are so many reasons that I am blessed with both of my children and my husband and my life in general.
I don’t like getting bogged down in the stressful stuff. I have always believed that things have a way of working out. They just do. I like to stay in the positive and, like most people, I lose my way sometimes. Finding my way back is such a great feeling. It’s better than great, it’s like home.
Right before his shower we ended our day right. We took the dog for a walk and had a great time. Hammy alternately ran, scooter-ed and sat in the stroller and Wolfie rode his bike. We were all in sync, doing the same dance. It is fantastic when that happens and I have learned to bask in those moments. Don’t let them just pass.
When I reminded him of how nice our walk was he said, “Yeah, we had that nice little bike ride and Chippy got a walk and there weren’t any problems.” He said this with a big smile and twitched his hands down by his sides. That little twitch he does is wonderful. It’s like his body doesn’t know what to do with all that good emotional energy and so it has to let some of it out. He was proud of himself, and I was overwrought with pride, love and happiness. Everything is as it should be.