Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Knight in Not So Shiny Armour

Last night was day ten of my Shut Up and Blog Challenge and I have to pat myself on the back. I did blog...one line. Basically, that I was going to bed. Oh well, no one is keeping a word count except perhaps me. 

My fatigue was due to the Mother-Son Date Knight at our school. Just so you know, I was the one who suggested the Knight theme and after spending my weekend making knight helmets, shields and conical damsel in distress hats for the photo booth, I'm a little less enamored with that theme. 

Unbelievably, Seth agreed to accompany me. Seth has never liked crowds. He has been that way since birth and his early years were punctuated by memorable meltdowns in public or hiding behind my hair whenever a friendly person attempted to interact with him. I got used to this, but it's only been in the last year that I have learned to stop apologizing for his shyness. As a fellow mother of a shy child once pointed out, why should we have to apologize for something they really can't help? 

Not surprisingly, last year in addition to being diagnosed with ADHD (a genetic gift from my side of the family where ADHD runs rampant), he was also diagnosed with mild, high functioning Asperger's. The counselor came to this conclusion after administering a whole battery of tests and questionnaires and interviewing him. I also filled out a questionnaire. When the counselor sat me down his office and broke the news, mine was not the typical mother's reaction. "I knew it!" I said. When Seth was four, I worried that perhaps he had Asperger's and even bought a book about it. Flipping through the book, I found lots of evidence that supported my belief but friends, family and Seth's teacher (BFF Nessa C.) said I was overreacting. 

The counselor gave me a piece of paper and said, "It's really not such a bad thing." When I gave him the stink eye, he continued to explain that there are many famous people who have Asperger's and that their talent and fame was made possible by the fact that they think in a different way. For instance, Bill Gates, Dan Akroyd, and my favorite singer James Taylor all have Asperger's. That is just the tip of a very large iceberg. For that list and lots more info, go to http://www.autism-help.org/aspergers-syndrome-famous-people.htm

By the time I left the counselor's office, I felt better and relieved. I didn't need to wonder anymore if Seth's behavior was that of a sociopath. Not to say, he is mean or cruel but sometimes he just doesn't get that it isn't okay to tell a people the unvarnished truth. Do I want him to be a smooth-tongued liar? No, but he doesn't need to label a girl in his class a weirdo just because she claims to speak to unicorns (true story). 

Life with someone with Asperger's is not always easy. Seth goes into every social situation with trepidation. Usually, I get to hear it fiercely whispered in my ear which means I don't get to enjoy the gathering either. Whenever he is invited to parties, he wants to go...but not really. He recently went to a friend's skate party. I could tell he wanted to skate so bad but his fear of the unknown was keeping him from doing it. Luckily, the mom of one of Seth's friends is like a big old cheerleader. She got him on the floor, held him up and skated all over that rink with him. He looked scared but he liked it. I was so grateful to her. She knows Seth has issues and she was determined he was going to have fun. 

Though Seth is blatantly honest, he amazes me sometimes with his intuitiveness. Seth has a friend that he has caught telling some big lies. Seth figured out this child had low self-esteem and was lying to impress Seth. After he explained his friend's motives for lying, I thought, "Wow. What an amazing kid."  

Though he can seem to not care about the plight of people he has decided aren't worthy of him--the boy who was playing and body slammed him at recess, the girl who repeatedly bosses him around, he can be very empathetic toward others. I can remember when Seth was four. I was looking at the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh on the internet. Seth saw "Starry Night." He loved its swirling colors. I told him who it was by and how sad Van Gogh's life was. Then I played a YouTube video of Don MacClean's "Vincent."  After the video, Seth had tears in his eyes and he said, "Mom that is so sad!" 

"Mom! Do I REALLY want a crown on my head?!"
Seth, when he was born, looked like a little old man. He is a bit like that inside as well. That is not to say he can't be silly. He and his friends are a zany laugh fest when they come over but he also doesn't mince words and there are times when I feel he skipped a generation. It's like one day he was three and suddenly he was thirteen. I remember when he was four, my late mother and I went to Burger King for lunch. He got a gold paper crown. I put the hat on him and insisted on taking a picture. He frowned and said in this teenage voice, "Mom do I look like I want to put a crown on my head?" What four-year-old talks like that? That same year, my sister "surprised" him with Cirque Du Solei tickets. In the middle of the acrobatic lover's spiral, and a quiet moment, Seth loudly proclaimed, "This is borrr-rring!" I cringed in my seat as it seemed to echo across the audience. 

Well, last night I took him to the Mother-son Banquet. The moment he heard the music booming from the gym, he wanted to go home. Hmmmm...not an option cupcake. I was working the photo booth so I wasn't going home. I felt bad leaving him at the table by himself but honestly, our conversation was going to be "I want to go home and so forth." I sat him next to a friend and watched him from the photo booth. He bebopped in his chair but wouldn't leave it. One of my parents that I've known for years was worried about him. She came by later and told me she had tried to warm Seth up to the idea of dancing and invited him to dance but he told her no way because he was shy. He did take a picture with me but absolutely balked at the idea of dancing the last dance with me. My boss looked at me sadly, but it was okay. She doesn't know it but he loves to dance with me at home. I'm talking twirling and everything. On the way home Seth said, "Mom did you know some strange woman tried to get me to dance with her?!" You would have thought my friend Skye had tried to kidnap him. 

Within hours, mother's in our community were posting pictures with their smiling sons at the banquet. My son's summary of the evening: "It looked a bunch of rednecks running around! You wanted me to act like that?" I admonished him for calling the kids a bunch of rednecks but at the same time had to choke back a laugh. Seth will always call it like he sees it and while I'm not exactly okay with it, I've learned to live with it and I try to remember I love him, not the smiling kid who happily posed with his mom.