Bittersweet

Time has passed since my last post, but my muse has been laying fallow.  She has cropped up in my poetry and my piano, but has not had much to say on her blog of late, my apologies.  The other morning I looked at both my kids and realized that I had to look up to see them. Yes, they are now both taller than I am, and it gives them great glee.  Mouse likes to pat me on the head and Boo just looks down his nose at me, giggles, and tries to steal my glasses.  That’s okay kids, I have the last laugh; I still have the car keys and the capacity to buy you groceries.

Boo turns 16 next month and Mouse turns 14, they are exactly two years and one week apart.  I did not plan this, it just happened that way.  I was just relieved that Mouse did not show up on her brother’s second birthday.  He had a hard enough time with her arrival, at least she did not steal his big day.  Small blessings.

We were at a cookout last night and it was a bittersweet affair.  As usual, we took two cars, so if Boo needed to leave early we could duck out but not ruin Mouse’s evening.  We were accompanied by Boo’s marvelous PCA, A.  This was one of our more successful parties.  Boo lasted about three hours.  He insisted that A take him for a walk around the neighborhood, but that only lasted about 20 minutes, as it was 90 degrees in the shade.  After that, he was content to have some munchies and play with Legos in the living room.  There were other kids there his age, they have pretty much grown up together.  So, why was it bittersweet?  Well, because though Boo was happy and well behaved, there was such a stunning difference between him and his peers.  Kids his age are on the cusp of getting their drivers licenses.  Under careful supervision, they drove their parents to the party, careful parked the family car at the curb, and then headed inside to chat with their peers or play on their phones.  Boo was content to hang out in the living room, either leaning up against A or sitting in my lap and playing with Legos. After a few hours, he indicated he was ready to leave, A and I said our goodbyes and headed out.  We stopped by a sandwich shop on the way home.  Though Robert had brought things to grill at the party, no one had started the grill yet by the time Boo was ready to leave, so we had not yet eaten.  At home, he ate half his sandwich and retreated to his swing in the cool of basement to twirl to his hearts content.  A left us for a dinner date and we were one our own for a few hours.  When the day had cooled off a bit, we went for a long walk around the neighborhood.  Boo was perfectly content, but I was a mix of emotions.  On one hand, he had behaved beautifully at the party.  No meltdowns, no escape acts, no accidents.  I doubt that many people really realized he was there.  On the other hand, it was hard.  His peers drove themselves or their parents to the party.  They chatted about high school, upcoming graduations, college plans, etc.  All the while, my son happily sat on the floor playing with Legos.  The contrast was startling.  I would not trade my son or change him for the world.  If I had a magic wand, I would not banish his autism, because I can’t separate Boo and his autism, they are one in the same.  I wish I could make the world an easier place for him.  I wish that three hours at a party did not completely exhaust both of us so we have to hide in a dark basement to recover from our labors.  The life of an autism mom is often a lonely one.  We left the party around 5:00 pm.  Robert and Mouse did not get home until after 10:00pm.  The party went on without us.  This is fine, but I was keenly aware that while Boo and I were walking hand in hand around our neighborhood, his peers were discussing post high school plans and my peers were playing bananagrams and bridge.  No one was there with us to celebrate the fact that Boo had survived for three hours at a party without a meltdown.  No one was there to celebrate the fact that he has come so much farther than anyone could have predicted when he was three.  It was just the two of us, walking hand in hand, and it was bittersweet.