The upside of your autistic 9-year-old making crazy massive gains? Obvious, I hope.
The downside? Realizing that one day in the not-so-distant future, when he’s made even more progress, you might get called out on all the crap you said and did when you thought he wasn’t tuned in–and when he wasn’t good enough at talking to tell you to shut up and quit it already.
So in the spirit of teshuvah (repentance), specifically the custom of making amends during the High Holidays, I have begun compiling a list of apologies I’m (hopefully) going to make to my son Benjamin when he’s finally able to let me know what he was thinking but couldn’t say.
1. Sorry you had to listen to me constantly hypothesizing about your moods. (“Maybe he’s just hyper/angry/sad because he needs the bathroom,” was particularly grating, I imagine.)
2. Sorry about prodding you to recite songs or new words you’d learned, like you were a parrot or something. It’s just that I was so proud of you, and I’m sure that now I still think there’s nothing on earth cuter than 6-year-old Benjamin’s rendition of Brass Monkey.
3. Sorry for all of those quiet car rides. I knew I should have made a point of carrying on one-sided conversations with you because it would have maybe helped you acquire language, but I really, really liked the silence.
4. Sorry for assuming you didn’t like the silence, too. Did you?
5. Sorry for all the non-quiet car rides, when I made you listen to boring talk radio and inappropriate podcasts. (And sorry for being secretly pissed, when during my Marc Maron phase, you yelled, “I want music!” after you’d had enough of his neurosis)
6. Sorry for acting like you’d just walked on the moon the first time I saw you make a Lego model. I had a feeling you were probably all like, “Duh–next time if you want me to do something new, just show me how.” After that we realized how quickly you picked things up.
7. Sorry for all those times I played the autism card. Even though your diagnoses did have something to do with why you’d, say, look through strangers’ bags or go mental when we had to share an elevator with a dog, I should have thought about the fact that you might not want me blurting it out like that.
8. Sorry for letting you get away with so many things I never let your siblings get away with. Not that you’re necessarily angry about this one, but giving you a little more credit probably would have been good for you.
9. Um, sorry for mining your life for so many essays and blog posts. Somehow I think I’m going to be paying for this one for a while.