a conversation. from tonight.
Gerry came out of the shower and was scrounging around for his pajamas.
“Mom. I have an idea for that book we were talking about.”
He was alluding to a discussion that he and I had had a few months ago. We were talking about his relationship with Howie, and I said maybe we could write a book together about it.
“Shhhh.” I said. “Tell me quietly. I don’t want your brother to hear.”
Gerry stopped what he was doing and looked right at me.
“When are you going to tell him he’s…different?”
I stood there. Waiting for what was coming next.
“Don’t you think he should know about his autism? So he understands? I know most of his friends are from his school and are like him, so that’s really good. But at some point, shouldn’t he know? Because really? Sometimes it’s very stressful for me that I know but he doesn’t.” His eyes teared up a little.
I knew I had to choose my words very carefully here. This…was important.
“Yes, of course he needs to know. Dad and I just have to figure out the right time. He’s only five.”
“Do you have friends who have kids with special needs? Kids who are older? Can’t you ask them when they told their kids?”
And then my kid wows me. Again.
“You know, it’s not fair. All his timeouts. At first I thought they were good. Teaching him. But if he can’t help it, then the timeouts aren’t fair, are they? It’s like if you’re driving and your car’s wheels lock up. And you hit something and cause a lot of damage. It’s not your fault that the car didn’t work the way it should. Right?”
I’m in awe of this kid. Of how much he loves his brother. Of how much he gets it.
“Mom. Shouldn’t he know so he understands?”
“Yes. He should. I will ask my friends how and when they told their kids. And what they said. You’re a pretty smart cookie. Now let’s talk about that book.”
So, I’m asking you. My friends. When did you tell your kids that they were…different?
“I’m accustomed to a smooth ride
Or maybe I’m a dog who’s lost it’s bite
I don’t expect to be treated like a fool no more
I don’t expect to sleep through the night
Some people say a lie’s a lie’s a lie
But I say why
Why deny the obvious child?
Why deny the obvious child? ” – The Obvious Child by Paul Simon