December 10, 2004

hide the books

Tonight as Damian was working very hard at not getting into his pajamas (ie: procrastinating like mad), he gazed curiously at my computer screen. "Mommy, those words say Bad Mother. Why does it say that?"

"Well, um," (and how do I explain blogs to a six year old?) "This woman writes about her life, just like I write about my life. I call mine Postscript. She calls hers Bad Mother even though she's not really a bad mother. She's being sarcastic."

He contemplates this. "Then she should change it so it says Good Mother."

"I'll tell her." (Ayelet? Donít worry about what my six year old son thinks of your title. Personally, I love it. And Iím not six so I'm your more likely demographic.)

Damian's got his pajama pants on now, his arms through the top like a straightjacket and his narrow chest exposed to the not-so-harsh elements. His gaze strays again. "Mommy, what's that? It looks like a drawing of a person with a T in the middle."

"Yeah, that's just what it is."

"Why is there a T there?"

(How do I explain DES? I donít.)

"Well, you know how babies grow in their mommies' uteruses?" (A nod.) "Well, a uterus usually looks like this." (I make a very rough approximation with my hands, probably rougher than necessary given that I suddenly can't remember the shape at ALL.) "But some women have uteruses with other shapes and then it's hard to keep a baby inside them. This woman has a uterus shaped like a T." (I know how to make a T with my hands, this I'm much more confident about.) "That's why she has that drawing there."

He accepts this. Which is good, because Iím not quite ready for the explanation of how Getupgrrl's eggs are currently growing into glorious little fetuses in another woman's body. He'd probably find it fascinating, but he still needs to finish pulling his pajamas over his head.

I got off easy tonight. Now that he can read, I have to be excruciatingly careful. We've been dancing around the A word for a while now when we're in his vicinity. The kid has ears. But now he has eyes too. I'd hate for him to find out he's on the autistic spectrum by reading it online first and coming to me with that wide-eyed simple curiosity: "Mommy, what's that word mean next to my name?"

I'm not ready for that conversation yet. That one's going to be harder than the birds and the bees speech (which we had in the aisles of a pharmacy about a month ago and woo was that interesting). I want to have a little more time before that conversation. Guess I should hide all the autism-related books, huh?

Reading is supposed to be such a great thing for kids. And it is. It's also dangerous. For their parents.

Posted by Tamar at December 10, 2004 09:30 PM

I don't think you will have to worry too much longer about explaining the A word. I can't imagine it is going to apply forever. His inquisitiveness and humor are great indicators of his awareness of the whole big world, and where he thinks everyone fits in it. he is not thinking on the small scale of a lot of autistic kids, i.e the world in front of his nose, stimuli, etc. This must be really exciting for you!

Posted by: rose at December 11, 2004 05:16 PM

Thanks, Rose; I think so too, that he's no longer technically autistic. But he'll always have some remaining issues or differences and at some point we'll have to tell him if only so he can know his own personal history. He has a lot of reason to be proud of what he's already accomplished in his short life.

Posted by: Tamar at December 14, 2004 09:34 AM

You will have that conversation. I have it with my 16 year old on occasion. He laughs at the notion that we once thought him autistic. He struggles with socializing outside his own little group of friends, but sees it as a failing .I know this because I found an English paper of his where he was asked what his greatest failure was. He answered that it was that he had a hard time talking to people. I am trying to reassure him that it is not as intuitive for him as it is for others, and that he is light years away from where he was and perhaps where he will be in a few years. It is easier for him to think of himself as a social failure than some shade on the autism spectrum. Whatever works for him.

Posted by: rose at December 14, 2004 05:41 PM