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That’s what Jack would like the name of his biopic to be someday. I’m down with it.
We watched Temple Grandin last night, and there’s no real clever or undramatic way to say that I pretty much cried from beginning to end. Little rivulets of wet just slid down my cheeks, whether my eyes were wide as I calmly watched or I was doing my involuntary mouth-scrunched-to-the-side attempt to stop from launching into full-on ugly cry. I think it was a little disconcerting to Brandon, since he kept asking why I was crying now, and I just kept shaking my head and saying because. Which is the most helpful kind of answer, I know.
And it wasn’t necessarily that I was overcome with sadness, though I’d be lying if that didn’t have a component. I think it was simply the recognition I was seeing, over and over, that hit me so hard. It was really hard to see all of the mannerisms you stereotype for Asperger, being so subtly and incredibly acted as if the story was about my son and not someone else. The familiarity of Grandin/Danes’s stims and actions (reactions) were so familiar to me it was shocking, though I suppose in fairness I’m not sure why. Probably because Jack is Jack to me, and I (obviously) forget that some of his behavior is not personal or individual, but tied into his hard wiring. Which even if these behaviors are not always.. mmm.. awesome, it’s simply hard to accept that once again, my sweet monkey is at the mercy of something bigger than he.
More than that is the idea that if Jack views his world the way the movie suggests, he really is the most resilient little kid I’ve ever known. All kids are resilient, sure, but I don’t know if I could continue to truck along like he does with that much sensory overload and confusion. And I know he trucks along because he doesn’t know that this isn’t life for everyone, but that ignorance itself makes me sad because it simply hurts me to think that there’s no foolproof or guaranteed way to protect or even help him navigate this. And that’s so maudlin and dramatic, I know, but fuck if it isn’t actually true. He told me a few weeks ago that he knows his brain is different, and that he has ‘storms’ in his brain when he feels himself getting upset, and the thunder and the lightning get to be too much and that’s when he needs a break and he KNOWS THIS and he’s ONLY SEVEN and it simply hurts me that it hurts him.
And what if this is what his life will be like? Always being unable to read people or situations, cringing when he hears the hand dryers in a public bathroom or flinching at automatic doors? He does those things, and I hate it for him. He’s grown so much since he was little, but do I really think he’ll ever just ‘catch up’? I don’t know. I still think so. Maybe that’s denial.
And I don’t pity him as if I think he will never be successful or will live a life less fulfilling than mine; I have the wisdom to not presume other people’s happiness. But what makes me sad is knowing that he struggles far more than my other child, and his struggles don’t always make him wiser or stronger – they’re just things he learns to adapt to because he wants to be accepted. I see him wanting to understand the game, but not knowing how to ever play, because the rules elude him. How tiring must that be? Kid sleeps like a rock; I would, too.
So yeah. I don’t feel this degree of sad very often, because it’s not helpful. I focus on the wonderful things about him because he deserves it and I agree with the movie’s motif of different, but not less. But regardless of why or how it’s there, the fact remains that my child functions in a way that makes it harder for him, and my inability to ease or protect him like any worthy supermom could, sucks. Period.