by Jin Ryan
A brief bit of prose about my son and our struggles
I hide in my bathroom from my son. All hours of the day and night I hide in the bathroom from my son. He is 17. He is the best good kid. He never leaves.
I am 37 and I had him just barely at 20. I was cocksure in my reasoning that I was no longer an unwed TEEN mother because I’d been 20 for 2 whole months when I had him.
I didn’t know what I was doing then
I don’t know what I’m doing now.
I hide in the bathroom on the floor in front of a small space heater from my son. I wear a bold green caftan that the rabbit gave me and I smoke cigarettes until I can not scream. He does nothing wrong. I am everything wrong.
In kindergarten I asked his teacher if he was ok in school. I told his teacher something seemed a bit off. Something was not quite lining up and she assured me he was wonderful, one of her best students.
He needed me, as a child he clung to me constantly from birth until age 2 or 3 and then he. . . Stopped. He didn’t hug. He didn’t slam into me with exuberant giggles and kisses the way my niece did.
In first grade his teacher said “there’s something not lining up” so we tested. We tested me and we tested him and we did mountains of paperwork. Whole chains of mountains of paperwork. We did so much paperwork I’m afraid I lost myself in it, it covered the house, the yard the moon. We tested his dexterity in ways I did not think we could and it all came back the same. Autism spectrum, Aspergers specific, high functioning etc etc.
that didn’t throw me. It made sense. He fit a pattern now, I could change the way I spoke to him and we taught him and make it work and boy did it ever. It was a light switch. It was a change from day to night. The difference understanding makes. There is a powerful lesson there
I tell everyone that will listen that if I could only have one child, and it is the case that that’s all I got so if I can only have the one I got pretty lucky but
I hide on the bathroom floor in front of a small space heater from my child my 17 year old giant of a man child because he never leaves.
Because his talk is incessant
because we watch tv and we talk and we drive and we talk and we eat and we talk and there is never another person to share it.
Aspergers is a social interactive disorder. He doesn’t have friends. He has never in his life had a friend. He has never been invited to a party, or to go to someone’s house, or to hang out. He has never had anyone in his life that wants to come hang out with him. He is home. He is always home because we don’t have family we are a duo in singularity we are tandem in our house and that is it. This is where he stays.
So I hide from my son because sometimes I love him so so much. And sometimes if I see him I want to scream and that makes me terrible. We navigate this life together. We are so much the same person
I am sitting in a room with a tall male me and I want to scream.
He is high functioning. High functioning and he may never live anywhere else. He may live here talking word circles around me for he rest of my life and whoever I wind up with will need to understand that. And I wonder at that. If I who loves him beyond all that I am capable of knowing wonders at that how will someone new handle it?
He stopped hugging me at 3. Years ago there was a commercial of all of these small kids who went blindfolded into a room and they found their moms by the touch of their hands. They knew completely even blindfolded their mothers by a hand.
My son would not know me. He would stand in the center in a blindfold and be lost.