Autism, growing up and my broken heart
A day I’ve been dreading since the day my Colt was born has finally arrived.
Last night before bed Colt was suddenly in a terrible mood. He had been playing a game, happy enough until he was told it was time for his shower. Immediately he turned sour and adversarial.
“Colt, it’s time for your bath babe.” I said.
“Come on, no argument. Just go have a quick one and get it over with.” and off he went, but grumbling all the way.
When he was done he came to my side and asked for a hug. Hugs with Colt are not very common and when he does give them out they are usually brief. One time in his life before last night, he climbed into my arms. He was three and had pneumonia. He crawled across the living room floor to me and curled into my lap like a kitten, feeling so sick. And then last night…
He was still being snarky and miserable, contradicting everything I said with a negative answer. I ignored it and held him tighter, told him I loved him each time he opened his mouth and he didn’t pull away or push me back, he just lay with his head on my shoulder, griping from there. We sat like that for maybe ten minutes (D had stopped to watch it was such a rare occasion) and then Colt explained something to me that I didn’t know he felt so clearly. He has *never* in his life offered such clear and personal information so it was a stunning moment; one I found myself rather ill prepared for.
“Do you like me?” he asked in a small voice.
“I like you very much, in fact, I love you!” I replied.
“Some people don’t like me, you know?”
“Really? Who doesn’t like you sweetheart?”
“Arlen from school” was his answer. “He doesn’t like me and that’s why I was swearing so much at recess last year.”
*Stunned silence on my part. D’s jaw hit the floor.*
I found myself completely unequipped to deal with what was said. I’m calm, rational, and direct with Colt and almost always have an answer to his questions or concerns. This one though….it was so honest and clearly expressed….it was wonderful, but heartbreaking at the same time. No one wants to see their kid hurting and trying to deal with unpleasant people in their world.
“Does it made you sad that Arlen doesn’t like you?” I tried but it was the wrong approach and he got all defensive and didn’t want to talk anymore.
I immediately stopped and just cuddled him. I told him it hurts me when people don’t like me as well but said I learned that the only people who really matter in life are those who love you, not the ones who hate you. It was short and sweet and he listened but didn’t respond.
Minutes passed and he was still attached to me. “Daddy and I will always be here for you Colt. Always. We will always love you exactly as you are.” I said it hoping he understood. I didn’t ask though, just kept cuddling and telling him he was very, very loved in our little family.
So there it is. He now definitely understands what’s going on. He knows that he is different, he knows that he can’t change that no matter how he tries and he knows the pain of being judged by people. I know we just go on from here. We will talk to him this weekend a lot…come up with a game plan so D and I can tackle the school system again, as we have to do every year to set things up to keep Colt moving forward. This Arlen kid is in his class this year along with another kid who used to call him a “retard” and told him all the time that he didn’t belong there at the school. This little shit is the one I was worried about, not Arlen. I wish he had been able to express this earlier… Poor guy. 😦 He’s been struggling with this a long time, I think.
So my heart is aching for my little boy who is trying to cope with the world around him. I want so badly to take this away from him. I want to be able to fix it. I was never able to fix anything that hurt him and the feeling is so dibilitating and helpless. My ten year old has already well learned that no matter how we love him, we can’t make his world much better than we already do, his dad and I. It’s so unfair. I’d give anything to be able to help. All I can do is love him and that just doesn’t seem like enough.
Sad day here. I’m happy that he talked to me, if only very briefly. I’m thrilled that he was able to put that together but then saddened again when I think he must have known this last year and he chose not to say anything. He would swear, we would ask why and he’d not answer at all. We assumed he couldn’t articulate it. We assumed wrong. Again. This parenting shit is tough. I love this kid so damn much.
Ah well. It’s Friday. I’m going to try to fill his weekend with happiness, as much as I can. It will make us both feel a little better and a little is better than not. Right?