My son, Beast. He’s . . . spirited. I’d love to leave it at that, but this is The Friday Confessional.
I love my boy to pieces. But, I knew he was going to be a handful long before he was even born into this world. I had a rather difficult pregnancy. And he hilariously went silent and still whenever anyone tried to “feel the baby kicking”. While he was on the inside place, he managed to kick himself to a position where he was constantly ramming his head into my cervix. He accidentally got his foot stuck in between one of my ribs and struggled wildly to get free. Once he was free, he did it again for what I can only consider as fun. People don’t seem to think that fetuses can have emotions or fun. I know differently from my son.
My son was born with this particular temperament. He was a lazy and impatient nurser, who refused to nurse and preferred the bottle. That’s my son. Obstinate beyond all logic. When that boy puts his foot down on something, that is the word. And we clash at every point.
It’s not entirely his fault. In June 2011, he was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified. In short, that puts him on the higher functioning end of the Autism Spectrum. I wrote:
I’ve always said that nothing in life prepares you to be a parent like being a parent. Truly. In my youth, I’ve helped to raise so many people’s babies and toddlers, but it was nothing like becoming a mother myself. Sure, I had the care basics down, but that’s not even scratching the surface.
So therefore, nothing can prepare you for a professional telling you there is something wrong with your child. Not even if you suspect it yourself.
That was over a year ago.
In truth, I’m in denial.
The battle wounds are still fresh from my youth.In those days, I found I was the most comfortable in the tiniest of places, completely unlike today, where confined spaces are cause for the air being vacuumed from my lungs, and my brain to catch fire. Those were only places I recall being safe; wedged between the sink and the wall, tucked in the back of a closet, curled up in a cabinet under the sink. Those places were quiet and dark. The only places I could find serenity and safety.
I remember instances where my hulking brother would hunt me down. Those were my go-to places. As long as I took refuge when the violent fits started, I had a chance of being safe. He may have tried hard to swipe at me, but I had the advantage. I was a small girl who could ball up and disappear from this world. In those places, I could be safe from brutal, unprovoked attacks.
Out of sight is out of mind.
And out of mind it out of sight.
The injustice perpetrated on me went far beyond that. That was considered excusable behavior due to my brother’s condition. I was told things like, “He can’t help himself, but you can.” I never did anything to purposefully antagonize him. I feared him. And when my parents would practically reward his behavior by conceding to his every desire, I hated him. Even to this day, I still hate him for all of the gifts and attention he siphoned off from me. I was a model child with straight A’s and glowing reviews from teachers. He was a terrorizing monster.
When my son was diagnosed in the same spectrum, I was crushed. Some parents can say they were blindsided by the diagnosis, but I certainly was not. I saw the signs long before a doctor had to confirm them. I was just hoping that there was some alternative explanation. I don’t love him any less. But, in truth, I see him differently. Maybe differently than a parent should.
I remember being pregnant. And I remember having serious talks with the sky boss. I pleaded, “Please, God. Please don’t let my son have autism. I can’t handle that. I wanted to deny it. I would tell people how high functioning he is, and how his developmental deficits were not that of a child with autism or aspergers. When he was denied entry into a regular preschool because they aren’t equipped to handle him, I was crushed again. My hopes that he was developmentally appropriated were dashed.
The truth is, my son is disabled. And he needs my help, now.
And here’s the worst part of my confession. I have a certain amount of resentment for his condition. I find it difficult to interact with him appropriately. When he acts out aggressively, I meet him with a certain amount of aggression of my own. I refuse to be terrorized by my own son, a huge, strong little four year old. It makes me feel small and scared every day of my life.
There is rare gratification. Most parents have children that will play with them. My son tries, but he can’t seem to make it happen. I watch him struggle with basic things. I feel like a failure of a parent, because he’s not potty trained and mostly refuses to wear clothing. I resent him when I am cleaning up bodily fluids he carelessly threw everywhere, like a little animal. And I hate myself when I liken him to a puppy in my mind.
But, there a moments where he looks me dead in the eye and says things like, “Look Mommy, out the window. Look, the trees!” Or, the day that we were outside and he scraped his leg. He straddled me and we held each other, rocking for awhile. Then, he grabbed me by my shoulders, held me away to look at me and sang, “I yuv you. You yuv me!”
There are those rare moments of hope that I hold to. Even in my darkest hours.