Monday, August 4, 2014

I Wouldn't Miss This

Tonight's cocktail is a delicious concoction called a Braveheart, which I had at Montrio Bistro in Monterey, California. It is made of "MacGavins 8yr Islay, balsamic-strawberry shrub, rhubarb bitters, lemon, and agave nectar." A shrub, if you didn't know, is a fruit/vinegar syrup that seems to be making its way into hipster cocktails. Despite that, it is delicious. I'm going to need to experiment.

This is the picture McDreamy took.

This is the picture I took.
I recently blogged about my father's inability to relate to my 10 year old son, Tweak, who has Asperger's syndrome. In a nutshell, Tweak has above-average intellectual and language skills, but he is hypersensitive to certain stimuli, and his social and emotional skills are presently behind the curve, especially when he is tired, hungry, anxious, or dealing with unexpected changes in circumstance or weird (to him) foods, textures, sounds, clothing, people, etc. My father, based on 2-3 visits a year, sees a kid who just needs to toughen up - as if it's that easy - and he has essentially written Tweak off. In the end, I can only pity him, because he doesn't know what he's missing.

It takes time and effort to understand someone who's wired differently. Sometimes it's not convenient or comfortable, and it doesn't fit into your paradigm of how you imagined your relationship with that person. You have to grow as a human being, and sometimes that process sucks. Believe me, I get it. But we don't get to pick our children, and I'm starting to realize what a blessing that is, because while I never could have envisioned having a child like Tweak, I'm so glad I do.

People who talk out of their asses say that people with autism "lack empathy." And by some measures it looks like that. It's hard for them to imagine how another person is feeling unless they are told directly, and even then it can be really difficult to conceptualize that feeling and know how to respond appropriately. That doesn't mean they don't care. My son doesn't pick up on social cues, which has sometimes caused him to get on my last nerve. But if I tell him I'm feeling sick or sad, he is ON it. He asks if I want to talk about it. He asks how he can help. He gives hugs. I know the ability to express those feelings in a discernable (to us) way varies widely among people with autism, but my boy tries so hard.

Tweak just got back from a week of Cub Scout sleepaway camp, and I got a full report on how it went from his dad, who is one of the pack leaders. At the camp, they had a commissary, where the boys could buy things like candy and pocket knives and T-shirts. They also had a small display of stuffed animals. Tweak is flat-out obsessed with stuffed animals. He has so many, he sleeps burrowed in among them, like E.T. He knows all their names, who is friends with whom, where and when he acquired each one. He uses them to act out stories from books or movies. He has them play baseball games. There was a stuffed animal World Cup earlier this summer, with detailed rosters and brackets. If one develops a rip, it is rushed to me for emergency treatment, with great distress. I still have PTSD over the last one that got temporarily lost.

Needless to say, Tweak went straight for the stuffed animals at the commissary, and he came home with 3 more (Goshen Bear, Raspbeary, and Box Turtle). On the last day, one of his friends bought a stuffed bear, which he took to the BB gun range with the intent of using it as a target, as 10 year old boys are wont to do. When the story reached this point, I almost stopped breathing, imagining my boy epically losing his shizznit in the quest to avert what he would have basically seen as a homicide. But instead of melting down, and without intervention from his dad, Tweak went to his friend and, after several failed attempts, convinced the boy that his little sister would really appreciate a stuffed animal as a gift, and how much better that would be. I don't know how he did it, but it worked.

So, instead of the sociopath that my father thinks I have in Tweak, I have a son who is tenderhearted, who advocates for what he cares about, who can appeal to another person's better nature. I have no doubt that he was very tempted to melt down. I also know that the other boy is one of his closest friends, who he didn't want to alienate. He figured it out, all on his own. I couldn't be prouder. I wouldn't miss out on this child for the world. I feel sorry for anyone who gives up on him, because the loss is all theirs.

Hugging his sister after her 5K.


  1. He is an amazing boy!!!! and has an amazing mother!! xoxo

  2. This is a beautiful post. We could all learn something from Tweak and his awesome mama! xoxo

    1. Thank you! He teaches me so much - sometimes I'm just hanging on for the ride!

  3. DAMN RIGHT! I loved this! You are an amazing mother and you are raising amazing children. Love you!

  4. I just wrote a post last night about how seeing my son through his diagnosis of ADHD has made me a better parent, and a better person. I pity your dad, too. In the end it's only his loss!

  5. You are winning at parenting. Sadly, your father is going to miss out on the chance to have an awesome young man in his life. Hopefully as Tweak grows up and gains more of the 'accepted social norms' your dad will have a change of heart. Either way, Tweak is going to be just fine with you as his loving and determined mother. You are amazing. Love you.


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