the many terrors of parenthood

There was this horrible letter going around the news pages the other day. A letter on purple paper telling the family of an autistic boy that they should euthanize him. I’m sure you’ve seen it or heard about it by now (click the link if not). I won’t post a picture here, I don’t need to see it again. But there was one line in that letter that made my blood run cold. Because it boldly states a fear I’ve had since the day my son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age two:

“No employer is going to hire him, no normal girl is going to marry/love him, and you are not going to live forever!!”

God, how fucking scary. Because… what if it’s true? I will protect him and support him until my dying breath, but, odds are, I will die before him. And someday, my love won’t be enough, he’ll want a girl or a boy to love him. Will he find one?

Now, to clarify: my son is what many people call “mildly” autistic, or “high functioning”. Can you tell I hate those terms? But they are accurate descriptions of his “disability”. And I always make sure to put them out there, because I’ve known parents whose children were severely autistic, and I can’t come close to their daily pain. Not even close. My little guy is quirky, and certainly has his issues, but he passes for “normal” with most people.

But will his quirks and issues prevent him from functioning on his own in the world? Will he be able to drive a car, or manage his own home, or have a career? Will he constantly struggle? Will he find someone to love him?

I also saw this video, and although it’s about a guy with OCD, it still brought up the same fears:

The thing I saw in it that had me tearing up was that: he knows. He knows he’s not normal, and that’s why he’s losing her, and he can’t do anything to change that.

And what makes me particularly sensitive about this right now is that school resumes in a few days. And my sweetie boy is starting first grade, in a new school, in a “typical” classroom, riding on the “regular” bus. Up till now, he’s been a short-bus riding, special-ed classroom kid.

I am seriously freaking out.

And I asked him if he’s excited, and how he’s feeling about it, and he said “Well, actually, I’m a little nervous.” So I asked him why, and he said, “Because… what if nobody likes me?”

So of course I told him everyone will like him, he’s a great kid! And I smiled and kissed him and said he was going to have the best year ever and make lots of friends!

But inside, I was crying.

4 thoughts on “the many terrors of parenthood

  1. What medicine and psychology and psychiatry does not know YET is a mental disorder or abnormality, hence for most part faith/Religion/God/Belief is incomprehensible for science…

    • I suppose we are all “abnormal”, each in our own ways, yet collectively we agree to adhere to a certain set of behaviors. There will always be those who can’t or won’t comply with “normal” behavior patterns, and who are therefore diagnosed with some “disorder”. Ideally, love transcends such labels.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. That letter. That goddamn letter. Wish I could force feed it back to the writer, but that would be useless. What I really am here to tell you is that your son really is going to have an awesome year. Because I have two sons classified as ‘High functioning’, my eldest and youngest sons. And they are doing great. Schools and teachers have come a long way in education children on the spectrum. My eldest started out on a special needs curriculum, but by middle school we all decided he no longer needed an IEP. (I’m sure you are already familiar with that ‘lovely’ but critical time sink.) He is now a freshman in high school, aiming for honor roll again and loving his graphic designs class. He has friends and attends a shorin-ryu dojo along with my youngest son. So go ahead and worry, fret, even cry but only because your the Momma and his life is beginning a wonderful new stage. Love, life, and family is well within reach of your son.

    P.S.
    Congratz on your new book ‘Out of the Woods’. It was awesome. 😉

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement! It’s so nice to hear that your boys are doing well at school, socially, and in life. That really does give me hope for my guy. I do have full confidence he’ll be okay, but you know there’s always that little kernel of doubt. He’s so young yet and it’s hard to picture how he’ll progress, and if he’ll ever be able to do “normal” things. And the thought of him knowing he’s “different” and being teased or excluded makes me want to get violent. I’m sure you understand. But at school he’ll have his big sister (going into 3rd grade) with him to help, and the school is really small and friendly, so I have no reason (outside of motherly instincts) to worry so much. I will say I feel lucky with our district, so far everyone has done a great job getting to know his needs, and his IEP is perfect, as far as I’m concerned.

      It’s interesting your boys enjoy martial arts. My daughter just started kickboxing and watching her I thought it might be perfect for my son. He loves rules and structure, and being physical. I think I will look for a dojo for him.

      I’m glad you liked my book! 🙂

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