Oh no... not mine. My oldest child turns 12 today. As of 12:12 am this morning, he was 12 years old.
It seems to me that the time has flown by. I know that this is a platitude, but platitudes must be just that because they continue to be really true, in some sense anyway. Right?
What freezes my blood is that there is so little time left. I often tell people that my job, as a parent (as I see it anyway) is to make my children good citizens of the world. I do not care that they have Asperger's, I would not care if they were deaf, blind, or neurotypical... it does not matter. My job as a parent is to teach my children to live in this world we are all born into responsibly, with care for others, and with honor and integrity. This may mean that my job, because my children are different can be challenging at times, but when I had children I may have expected cute, baby perfection, and the natural progression of development laid out in the "What to expect" books, but God had other plans for me. I have learned to go along for the ride, and to try not to pilot the plane.
By the way, I had cute, baby perfection, with both boys. I also had my first child laughing at me when I tripped in front of him at 5 months.. He did not want to be held too long, even at 10 days old, he would hold a particularly interesting baby rattle for 15 minutes, just staring at it at 4 months old.. (I timed this...) just studying it. At 21 months he was using words like "annoying" to me. He would put himself into his playpen at 2 and just hang out for hours, perfectly happy to be in the same room with you, but separate, and quiet. We thought we had an eccentric lad, like my father. No harm there.
When he got into school, my quiet mild mannered child turned into a tortured, overwhelmed child, who by the 2nd grade was throwing chairs across the class room.
This all comes down to not having him diagnosed (what did we know about autism? Nothing!) and the school that he was at knowing nothing about it either. It took a brand new teacher, fresh out of college (God bless that young woman) to know what she was looking at, and the school administrators forbid her to tell us, as we might get upset. She realized this 2 weeks into 2nd grade. They told us in May. I am still angry about this.
We've moved past this, Sam is in a great school now. He starts Jr High next year though, and I worry. I know that there is a brand new class at one of our Jr highs here in the area that is for high functioning autism and that one of my friends, friend's child is loving school for the first time, but they are talking about closing the class already! (Ah, the networking that goes on with our children... all parents do this, not all are as aware that they are, I think.)
With Ben, we caught the autism earlier. There were different signs, and he is effected in different ways. As are, frankly all people with autism, there is no set rule of what ths diagnosis defines. As we were able to start him with help as he first went into school, he is completely mainstreamed, with assistance, but is coming along really well.
I like to think that we are doing fine on our way to teaching our children to be good citizens. It really seems such a short time that we have as parents to set down some pretty big ideas. A short while to teach habits to make sure that our children are compassionate and kind to all, and yet do not lay down and take crap from other people their whole lives.
The other day, Sam and I were talking about school, he is very overwelmed in his math class lately. He is mainstreamed in english and math class right now and math is in the afternoon, and has 2 different classes being taught at the same time. We were discussing the sensory overload, and I asked him if he wanted to use a carosel desk (one that has a sort of special wall around it.. like the ones in a library) he was horrified. He said that he did not! I asked him why? I said
" You know that you are different, this can help you to focus and not feel so distracted"
"I know that I'm different, I accept that I'm different, and I'm okay that I'm different. I just don't want to be made fun of because I'm different."
Now, I ask you, does that sound as wise to you as it does to me? Maybe 6 more years will be enough time after all.