Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Autism Answer: And That, My Friends, Is Parenting

I picked my son up from school today and he started talking to me before he'd even folded his newly manlike body into the backseat.

"Mom, when I'm sixteen can you please talk to me a lot? Talk to me like you do now, you know, about how I feel and stuff. Right now I'm fourteen so if we just keep talking like we do, and you keep trying, even when I act like I don't want you to, I'll probably stay used to it so that when I'm sixteen it'll help me."

I laughed at the strength of his request. His sixteen year old brother, who was sitting beside me and had been quite relieved to have our own "comfortable" conversation about his day interrupted by his brother, looked back at him with concern. "Don't encourage her!" his entire being seemed to plead.

"Of course I'll talk to you like we do now when you're sixteen! I can't help myself, I'm so darned interested in you and your brothers!! Why on earth are you asking?"

"I looked it up after school today," he replied, struggling to get his seat-belt on simultaneous to shrugging out of his backpack. "Sixteen is an age where a lot of kids commit suicide. If you keep talking to me like you do now, I won't be one of those kids."

Well, the whole car went from silly laughter to serious thoughtfulness in that moment. We were quiet and reflective. We had a mess of thoughts my boys and I--different I'm sure, but equally impressive--until I broke the silence with a question. With a little forced bounce in my manner I asked,"Why were you looking that up?"

"No reason," was his reply. And then he jumped topics with ease, as youngsters often do, and asked his brother about the new shirt he was wearing. "It's pretty orange!" he observed.

The brothers started chatting and I sat in the irony of the moment. My son jumped in the car almost pleading me to talk to him about "how he feels and stuff", and then just left me hanging when I did.

Totally teenager! And I know well that if I pressed him too hard for an answer he'd never want me to talk to him about it again. So I'll spend the week sneaking that same question into different disguises until I have enough of a portrait to put together an almost clear picture.

And that, my friends, is parenting. 

We can't know our kids precisely, but we can honor and respect them entirely. And we can care enough to sit in the irony. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)