If you’re reading this, I am so very pleased to meet you: it means that the future has been kind enough to let you and my son find each other.
I don’t know if you’re a man or a woman, or if you have autism or not; nor do I care. I do know that you’re gentle and caring and compassionate because that is what Brooks responds to. It’s what he’s always responded to since he was a baby, and my husband and I hope he never outgrows it.
But there are other characteristics that we are eager for him to outgrow, and you should know that regardless of how successful we are in our endeavors, we have been diligently working on them.
I thought of you the other night when we were having dinner and Brooks started eating rice with his hands. We can’t ignore that these kinds of habits will only magnify the disadvantages he’ll face in the social quagmire of high school, and even once he somehow makes it through all that, how will anyone–especially someone as nice as you–ever sit down to a meal with him? It’s not like we’ve never taught him that he can’t use his hands to eat rice, but it’s complicated for him: he wants to use his hands because of his fine motor challenges and he has trouble remembering the rules: he can use his hands to eat fried chicken–why not rice? So now he has to remember the inconsistent rules and manipulate the fork (plus he happens to have the appetite of a Sumo wrestler).
I wish I could promise you that his improvements over the years will be significant, but the reality is that they may be slight. I’m guessing you already know that he cannot be asked to make a bed unless you want it to look like a Salvador Dali painting; that he simply doesn’t process where the blanket ends and the pillow begins. And that his other home care skills like laundry and cooking and cleaning will never be second nature for him. Although he’ll continue to master certain aspects, I’m afraid that others may remain beyond his capabilities.
And that’s not the half of it. I wish I could sugar-coat his intellectual delays, but I have to be honest with you: his brain works differently. It is not defective, as some misguided parties claim, but rather unique in its processes. He experiences the world differently and he can’t easily learn what we deem valuable–only what he does: like memorizing the roster of almost every team in the NBA. And the NFL. And the MLB. At nine years old.
I’m guessing that you know all this, and that you don’t care; that you understand what really matters whether he’s nine or twenty-nine is that he’s doing the best he can, and no matter how much we want him to spare him the pain of feeling different, there comes a point where we need to graciously accept his limitations.
And the surprising truth about those limitations is that when you spend time with him, they fade away into the background. No one knows this better than you and I. He takes our breath away: his magnetic good looks, easy smile, and winning charm; the kind and gentle way he asks how our day went; his quirky sense of humor and infectious laugh; his moves on the dance floor; and finally, his unparalleled enthusiasm that hovers somewhere between driving us crazy and making us insanely happy.
Brooks is supposed to find someone to share his life with, but he was also supposed to thrive in an integrated school environment, and he was also supposed to lose his diagnosis. In the shadow of these unrealized optimistic expectations and in the interest of keeping a firm grasp on reality, I am forced to wonder whether you exist.
But then I look at Brooks–how absolutely perfect he is exactly as he is–and I realize how unfair it would be for me to play it safe and saddle him with low expectations. And when he looks back at me–in those purest of moments–my fears wash away and all I can see is the magic of his future. And your part in it.
It is my fiercest hope that someday I get to welcome you to the family.
So beautiful. Whatever his future is, will be. All I know is life is more wonderful when he’s around.
Nicely written…and exactly how I feel about my son.
As for the chicken and rice, bed making and laundry – you might be confusing Brooks’ autism with him just being a guy! 😉
What a wonderful son you are raising! What warm, loving and nurturing parents!
Wowee. Powerful writing. Not sure if it is simply my exhaustion from lack of sleep after my trip, but it nearly brought me to tears.
Love your son, and wish all the best for him wherever he finds his happiness. 🙂
And I agree with the other comment– Kai’s bed making skills are the exact same. It could very easily be a man thing.
It didn’t nearly bring me to tears. I’m sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks. He’s so lucky to have you two. And Marn, the creativity you show in your writing never ceases to amaze me!
Truly overwhelmed by the personal responses to this post–and extremely grateful. Thank you all. (And for US folks: wishing you a happy, happy Thanksgiving!)
You’re writing continues to amaze me. I feel like Brooke is a family mamber.
Hey Marni I can’t thank you enough for putting into words what I feel. As a single mom with NO father involvement it has even more meaning for me as all we have is each other. I “get” him. It’s like telepathy. I hope others got him as well. No one gets it unless you truly have a child like us.
I can only hope and pray that your son will grow up to be a kind, caring human being. Perhaps, my grand-daughter will meet him or someone like him when she grows up.
My great nephew has autism so I know what my niece goes through on a daily basis.
I applaude you, ma’am for you letter, it was surperbly written.
If you don’t mind, I will be praying for your son, as well as your family.
Everybody needs to be somebody’s somebody throughout ones life. Whoever you are:) you too
*can* be somebody’s somebody. .