Master J finished school on Friday.
He bounced into the car, full of as much joy as a nearly 17 year old boy can muster.
“I’m done. I’m done for 8 weeks.”
I smiled. I love the school holidays. It is just he and I at home. Mornings are lazy. No time frame constraints and we can do what the hell we like.
Today is Monday, the first day of our summer break.
It is raining outside.
I’m ironing sheets and duvet covers (really exiting summer break this one!).
“The holidays are so boring!” Master J has just emerged from his room. It is 8am. On the first day of our summer holiday. The one that we love so much. The one that, whilst our paths don’t cross that often (meaning he immerses himself in his computer in his room and I busy myself readying for christmas, then relaxing and pottering), we are acutely aware of each others’ presence. His autism means he finds communication really difficult, but I communicate with him. I communicate with him through silent connection. I love that so much. I love him so much.
“What do you mean the holidays are boring,” I protest, “they have barely begun.”
Then a few seconds later.
“Do you want to go for a movie?”
He shakes his head. I knew he wouldn’t want to – no self respecting teenage boy wants to be seen with his mum in public, autistic or not.
“We don’t have parties anymore. Why don’t we have parties any more? It is so boring in this house.”
It is true. We used to entertain a lot. We bought this house for its entertainment value. Then six months later we became sober, then six months after that my mom died. I lost my desire to connect.
Then we had a couple of parties, nothing as plentiful as before, but a few.
Then this year Mr C ended up in hospital. And I ended up in hospital. So we haven’t had any parties this year.
Children on the spectrum struggle to connect.
We have parties at our house, and Master J will not move from his room. But the other children will seek him out and sit with him. This is him connecting with the world outside.
What he was really saying to me is that he feels isolated, that he needs to connect.
Which may seem weird to people who don’t understand autism, to people who have a stereotypical view of children on the spectrum.
The truth is that whilst anxiety drives them and their subsequent isolation, like any human being, like EVERY human being, they desperately want to connect, even in the smallest way.
I, on the other hand, am driven by depression. I do not want to connect. Not right now. It is christmas and I am sad. I want to stay indoors with just the two of us. He in his enclave, me in mine, aware of each other, connecting in our own way.
I look at him. “It’s really late in the year, Master J, people won’t be available for a party. But we are going to The C’s for christmas drinks.”
It wasn’t what he wanted to hear. That will require effort – to get ready, to travel, to meet people he won’t know. His face drops.
“I tell you what. How about we have a New Years party? I don’t know who will be around, but no doubt some people won’t have plans. Everyone can bring their children.”
He nods, contemplating first, then accepting my offer.
I make a mental note to make sure I email everyone to see who might be around. I also make a mental note to organise a few parties next year.
Connections are important. They are important to Master C and despite my depression, they are important to me. And it is important to maintain them throughout the year. No matter how busy we are, or how ill we may be. It is too easy to hibernate, to isolate, to lose connection.
You see, we are all connected on this crazy planet we call home. Whether we like it or not, we are all connected. We all have a burning desire to belong, to have a tribe of our own. Even, or perhaps especially, children on the spectrum. And so it is that I will be working hard to maintain those connections. And so it is I have written a couple of dates in my diary next year to hold a party or two. So that I can feel connected. So that Master J can feel connected.
And so it is that my “I can do what the hell I like” summer holiday has now turned into “who the hell is around on NYE?” summer holiday.
Connections. They drive us no matter what. And that isn’t a bad thing.
Until next time,
This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally. The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world. Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in. Today is Day 8 of the initiative.