The Boy is 14, and will be 15 in two months. Old enough to take driver’s training. I don’t think there’s much out there that he would like to learn more than how to drive for real. He “practices” in the passenger seat often, rides the riding lawnmower without assistance, has driven go karts, and in general very much looks forward to the day when he can drive his own car. But will he?
I’ve talked briefly to him a few times about how his high school track will work out, how he will get some work skills, and concentrate on learning how to become an employee. But he still wants to be a band director. I think he still wants to go to college. And I know that in the strictest sense, he will not go to college as he envisions it.
He has dreamed about getting a blue Chevy Sonic to drive when he gets his license, but I had to break it to him the other day that it wasn’t going to happen, and that he needed to start saving if he wanted a car at all. A new car of his choice is just not in the cards.
When your kiddos are little, this all seems so far away, and the last thing you want to do is limit their dreams. But when it comes time to face reality, then what?
These are the things that keep me up at night as a mom to a teenage boy on the spectrum. It may not be all that different from being a mom to a neurotypical teenager, except that reality sometimes doesn’t make sense to a logical, autistic mind.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned that The Boy turns 14 this week. Still not quite sure how that is freakin’ possible, but apparently it’s true. And while he is asking for things like cell phones for his birthday and Christmas, he is still asking Santa.
This past weekend, we went to a Christmas Supper hosted by our local chapter of the Autism Society of America. It was pretty chaotic, and I’m not sure I could do that more than once a year, but a highlight of the evening for the kids was that there was a very real-looking Santa there to whom they could speak and with whom they could get pictures. He also handed out gifts to all of the kiddos.
When The Boy went up to retrieve his, he brought along his list (on his iPad) and proceeded to tell Santa about all of the other things he wanted in addition to the gift he was getting, and for which he was being prompted to say thank you. Very Real-Looking Santa didn’t look all that patient or impressed, which was cringe-inducing. And I started to think that maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s time to find a way to explain to The Boy that this little piece of fantasy isn’t quite true.
The reality is, he will be in high school next year, and he is already different enough. We have to fight for so much here, and even though he is accepted by his peers, it continues to be more like “tolerated” than “invited over to do fun things.” And while I want him to be comfortable in his own skin, I don’t want him to be sheltered just because he can. Because then, in some way, I’m using the autism to keep him little. He’s innocent enough on his own, I think, which is a whole ‘nother set of worries.
I’ll add it to the list of things we need to work on/approach after the holidays…