Master J is struggling.
Exams are looming and English is proving a bigger problem than we ever imagined.
The limitations of autism are increasingly evident. Things that come naturally to us neuro-typicals are an enormous struggle for him. Language, with all of its complexities, its nuances, its foibles, pass him by. He lives in his own world, communicating only when he has to. Now he is being asked to analyse language, explain why it is being used, to what purpose, and in what manner. He is being asked to understand the context, the depth and hidden meaning in a body of words that simply swim in a sea of black and white.
Did I mention exams are looming?
Stress. Big, clumpy, heavy stress.
“I’m not going to pass Mum, I may as well just leave school”
I brace myself.
“Only a year to go, love, and then you have finished school. And that is when the real fun begins. You get to follow your dreams, your curiosity (my new buzz word), whatever you want to do, you get to do that. No more English, no more analysing language, no more of any of that stuff.”
“I fucking hate English.”
Frustration. He thinks I don’t understand. He is in pain and I am not telling him anything that is anaesthetising it for him.
My heart breaks.
“I had a lunch planned love, but how about we spend the day at home, going through some things. It might help ease your mind.”
He is reluctant, resistant, but nods. Moments later he is screaming and ranting and struggling to contain the anxiety that is welling up inside of him. We know to leave him alone, to let the rage run its course.
I shoot off an email. It is a lunch with a bunch of woman I have never met. With Master J finishing school next year I recognise the need to let him go, get out and meet actual real people. This is my first attempt at that.
Sorry ladies, unfortunately something has come up and I won’t be able to make it today. Have a great time and I will see you next time.
It is 8:30am and the lunch is at 1pm. Short notice, but unavoidable.
I receive a message at 10:30am. It is from one of the ladies going to the lunch.
“Something has come up” is a poor excuse, I am told. If I can’t make it at such short notice, I do need to give a decent excuse. She doesn’t want to sound harsh, she tells me, but the lady organising it must be feeling very let down. She signs off with “hope you and yours are well”.
I stare at the screen.
My initial reaction is to simply write Fuck You Bitch!
But then, just as she doesn’t know my circumstance, I don’t know hers. She may be a really good friend of the person who organised the meet, and this friend may have been let down by many people in the past. She may feel the need to defend this friend. Like it is her duty. Or something.
I do shoot off an email. It isn’t as gracious as I would like. Frustration is evident in its tone. I point out that after being reprimanded like this without even meeting me, how on earth could I possibly attend another meet up with any modicum of dignity. I would feel like I was walking into the lion’s den being labelled as the one who let them down without “giving a decent excuse.”
So my lesson for today is this:
Be patient. Be kind. If you cannot, then say nothing.