I’ve always maintained that the moment my kids turned 18 I would boost them out of the nest and into the wide world to experience adulthood and independence. This intention is based primarily on the fact that I have plans. Travelling and rebuilding my career are high on my list but number one is unloading all of the cruddy, tattered furniture I have in my house. It takes stuff to furnish a student’s apartment. I have lots of stuff. They are welcome to it.
With the 18 year milestone only four months away for one kid and less than three years away for the other, I’m beginning to worry that I’ll never be in the market for a Barca. I have begun to realize just how unprepared they are and how unprepared I am to help them prepare. It’s tough for any parent but moreso when your kids are autistic as mine are. They don’t have your stereotypical Rain Man or Sheldon Cooper type of autism but a much more subtle kind – the kind that runs under the surface of the skin but manifests in the way they take in the world and what they are capable of giving back.
My kids isolate. They haven’t always done this but the world is a cruel place for people with oddities. Call it uniqueness if you like but the effect is the same. Many days I wonder “What good is there in pushing them into the world?” No, really, “What GOOD is there pushing them into the world? The message is consistent. You haven’t done your best. You’ve let us down. Why are you always doing that thing I politely asked you not to do 10 times, then bluntly told you 10 more, then finally raged for 10 minutes about because you still don’t get that this shit is important to people?
Kids who aren’t socially motivated and can’t process the impact their behaviour has on other people’s emotions can be a real pain to be around, so they are last chosen and first rejected. They end up alone. No social interaction, no social learning, limited personal growth. Few opportunities. No wings.
I wait and wait and wait for them to mature. The clock ticks and ticks and ticks as 18 approaches with too few signs of success. Some days the struggle to help them learn independence and, more importantly, interdependence, leaves me more torn and frayed than the the upholstered chair the cat has been using as her scratching post. Much too often I reach the end of the day with just enough fuel left in the tank to park my body in the familiar divot in my cheap, aging couch and sip chamomile tea while my cat shreds my chairs. My messy head tries to accept the reality that my furniture is ready for the kids to move out, but they are not.