However today, I felt that searing pain, that we as Autism Parents, (or just special needs parents in general,) often feel. You know that ache that comes along when your child's peers are ready for "bigger" things, while your son or daughter isn't?
He Thinks He's Ready, But He's Not
I learned early on not to compare my son's milestones to other kids his age. It wasn't worth the heart ache. We know our kids will get there when they get there, and we'll be right there waiting to cheer. So that part doesn't bother me.
Today however did. Because suddenly, my son became fully aware that while his peers are ready for some things, he isn't. And it ripped through his heart like a dull knife. Watching him process it washed over me like a tidal wave, leaving me wracked with pain. I'd be lying if I didn't admit I went into the bathroom to cry.
Let Me Set the Scene
Our area schools give off Friday and Monday for President's Day, so I too give Liam the day off. This morning he had a play date here with two of his autistic friends. It went great. Afterwards, when we were heading out to my sister's, an old friend of Liam's stopped by.
He moved away with his mom, but is here for the weekend with his gram. This boy came over to invite Liam to the skating rink with him!! Sounds amazing right?
Like most tween kids in our area, their parents drive them to the roller rink, drop them off, and come back at 10 pm to pick them up. (Hey my parents did the same with us when we were that age. However, I also had an older sister there to watch over me.)
So while this boy had the most wonderful intentions, and because he doesn't see Liam as "different," he invited him to go. But he can't....
For Many Reasons
Liam isn't emotionally mature enough to be away from adult supervision for a period of time. While there are adults there, they aren't always watching, because lets face it, that rink is packed. I've seen older kids there picking on younger ones, and while I stepped in, what if there isn't anyone there when it happens to Liam?
My son also notices that he doesn't fit in. It's because of this, that he will go out of his way to do so. Liam will do anything to get the approval of his peers. He doesn't think, he just acts. Which often has some pretty crappy repercussions.
There will be girls. The other boys his age are into girls. Liam isn't there yet emotionally. So if his friends skate off with a girl, and leave him alone, he won't know what to do. His anxiety will set in, and he will panic.
Saying it isn't easy....hearing it is harder....
Paddy and I sat him down and spoke with him about it. Liam put his head down, and admitted that it probably wasn't a good idea. But like most kids his age, he still wanted to go.
So we gave suggestions....
"We could go with you, and hang out in the game room!"
"We could go, but wait outside in the car!"
My hubby even spoke with our eldest Bran. (He's twenty one.) He offered to go.
"Bubby said he'll go with you!"
"NO! No one else will have an adult with them!"
He was adamant that he didn't want his parents there, "like a baby." So we told him he could try it. We would give him my cell and he could try.... (and I was panicking inside as saw two more worry lines appear on his father's face....)
He broke down sobbing....because it donned on him, that he isn't in fact, ready....
After about half an hour of rocking and sobbing, he told me he wasn't ready. My boy went on to say that even though he "wants to go so bad, other kids can be mean there." And so he "couldn't go."
As adults, it's hard for us to admit when our children can't do something. Imagine being a child and having to process that truth? It hurts. While I know that "A" had only the best intentions, and while I am super thankful that he not only THOUGHT of my son, but wanted to include him as well, I almost wish he hadn't....
I wish that for at least one more day, my son didn't have to feel that pain. The pain of watching your friends grow up, and knowing you're just not ready.....