Good evening, my minions. I actually had a humorous bit about the Fall Sports Banquet that I had been wrapping up to post tonight, but things change. I'll still post the other bit - it's pretty funny, and gives a nice example of how I tend to interact with other parents. However, I need to write about something else first.
For those who haven't been paying attention, I have kids. Two of them. They are beautiful and precious and all the things you expect a mother to say about her kids. Except mine really are. I could write about them for hours, until the hours turned into days. Tonight, though, I specifically want to talk about my son. Not that I don't have anything to say about my daughter - she's wonderful, and infuriating, and sprinting towards puberty like it's an Olympic event - but tonight it's the boy's turn.
If my daughter is the shining sun of our family, then my son is the North Star. Ever-fixed, easily outshone by his sister, but you will always find yourself looking to him. He loves chocolate, Legos, pizza, and dogs; if Beasty had the sense and patience to join forces with him, they'd probably punch a hole in my "no pets" policy pretty quickly. He is also autistic. He's about mid-range on the autism spectrum - limited communication and comprehension, mild self-stimming, but very social and loves people. I mean he really loves people. He's physically affectionate, he adores parties, and nothing makes him happier than having all of his important people together in one room. Well, except maybe Legos.
He is thirteen years old, turning fourteen in January, and already 5'11". Possibly taller at this point, he hasn't been measured in a bit. It's causing some small problems - mostly from people expecting the behavior of an older child from him, but also him not understanding how his size and the strength that comes with it changes interactions. He really likes younger children - after all, they'll play tag and chase with him - but I see other parents get nervous when he tries to interact with their much smaller (and they're presuming much younger) kid. He also has boundary issues. As in he doesn't understand them. Personal space is a foreign concept to my son.
We had a boundary issue tonight. My daughter is twelve going on OMGTEENAGER, and is wanting more privacy than she ever has before. My son wanted to play with her, specifically with a bouncy ball she had, and so he was looming outside her closed door waiting for her to let him in or give him the ball. She shouted for him to stop "stalking" her, and I told him to just leave her alone. It isn't the first time we've directed him to back off when she needed space, though her reaction was perhaps a bit dramatic. He went into his own room, and I stopped worrying about it.
A half hour later, I came around to tell everyone to get their pajamas on. My son was in his room still, with a blanket over his head, and I figured he was just being quirky so I turned on his space heater (the bedrooms in our house don't heat well) and told him to get his pjs on. That was when I heard the sniffling. I paused, and gently pulled the blanket off of his head, asking what was wrong. He had taken his glasses off, so it was easy to see that his eyes were shiny with tears yet unshed. I asked again, and sat down next to him. At which point he turned to me and wrapped his arms around me before proceeding to sob into my shoulder.
I held my son and rubbed his back and asked him again what was wrong, not understanding what could have moved him to this.
"I a bad guy," he finally said between choked sobs.
I said no, he wasn't a bad guy. Assuming this had something to do with the earlier exchange, I tried to explain that his sister just wanted to be left alone sometimes.
"No, I am. I a bad guy," he repeated, still crying hard against me, and clinging to me in a manner that has become increasingly more rare as he's gotten older. At this point his sobs had attracted his sister's attention, who left her room to satisfy her curiosity. I asked her what she had said to him, thinking there must have been more to it, but she just repeated the exchange I had overheard earlier. Through all this my son just keeps crying, holding on to me as if for his life, as I rock him and rub his back and continue to tell him he's not a bad guy. My son understands what bad guys are, and it has crushed his soul to think he might be one.
After another minute (and a quick head jerk from me), my daughter stopped standing awkwardly in the doorway and sat down next to us. She hugged her brother and repeated that he wasn't a bad guy. We both held him, and the crying slowly stopped. I told him how sweet he was, how kind and thoughtful, and that he was a good boy; he just needed to listen when people wanted to be left alone. Once the crying had become little sniffles, his sister started tickling him, and the moment had officially passed.
Now everyone is in bed, and I'm sitting at the computer, and now I'm crying. Because my heart broke under the weight of his sorrow, and because I have no idea how to keep it from happening again. I do not know how to explain to him that his sister is probably going to get worse before she gets better - it's just a part of growing up. I've tried to explain that the looming thing is annoying/creepy, but the behavior has persisted despite my best efforts. I don't know how to explain that life is going to be eternally unfair to him, even more so than the average person, and that we'll just have to keep doing our best.
But I can tell him that I love him, and I know he understands. He understands that I love him, and his sister loves him, and Beasty loves him (and his grandmother, and grandfather, and a great many other people). He may not know the depth of my commitment to him, or how hard I will fight for him, but he knows that I love him. And maybe that will make it okay when all my explaining cannot.