I Have Great Bad Parenting Skills
You wouldn’t think you could forget your child has autism, but I sort of did the other day. I suspect every parent with a special needs child fantasizes about what it would feel like to parent only neuro-typical children. Because typical children practically raise themselves and are never exasperating. I am only speaking to my own experience with a relatively high-functioning child on the spectrum (who has a full-time aide at school). Several of my friends parent incredible low-functioning children. Those parents operate in a totally different frontier for which I have mad respect. In my world, my fantasy would entail being able to send my child outside alone to explore on his bike, which he can mostly ride. To let him cross the street without holding my hand and me not holding my breath. To tell him to do homework and have him sit down and do homework without side-by-side supervision and four thousand questions about google maps or ritz cracker flavors.
Getting to the Bad Parenting
Last week I drove my 4th grade twins to a school event a few miles away at a nearby elementary. It was an ordinary day. I had some errands to run. I let the twins out of the car to head into the cafeteria to meet up with their friends and teachers for a year-end celebration. I was doing what every other parent was doing: Letting the kids out of the car and driving away to pick them up an hour later. As I pulled my car out of the parking lot, I had the faint feeling of something I’d forgotten, but it passed quickly.
Half an hour later, one of Devlin’s teachers I didn’t even know was at the other school called to say she had Devlin in her car and was driving him home. She had miraculously seen him running along the roadway by himself and knew something wasn’t right. Then it dawned on me. I hadn’t made arrangements for an adult to be with Devlin. Hell, I hadn’t even told the twins to stay together. I dropped them off without a care in the world. What happened was completely foreseeable and has happened even when Devlin has had one-on-one adult supervision. Predictably, he got overwhelmed with the crowded auditorium and fled the building.
Now, the good thing is that Devlin memorizes maps and knew exactly how to get home. The bad news is he has little appreciation of danger and the sense God gave a pineapple when it comes to personal safety. That’s not the kid you want running home a couple miles from a stressful environment down a busy street. If there is a hole in the pavement, he’s the kid that will fall into it. He was winded and upset when the teacher dropped him off, but no worse for the wear otherwise. What an idiot I am. I totally forgot my son had autism for half an hour.
Sheesh. Kids these days. Enough with the coddling already. We’re expected to remember their lunch bag AND that they have autism? Clean baseball uniforms AND epilepsy? Do you know how many permission slips I sign in a given school year? You mean we have to keep all this shit straight on a continual basis? I need a permission slip permitting me to be an idiot. I can’t keep all their shoe sizes straight or all thirty of their toenails clipped. How can I be expected to remember something so mundane as food allergies? I’ve barely memorized their birthdays and I was there for the whole thing.
Bruise healing from the inside out.
Wow! This is a sigh of relief for me! I have a 23 year old son (still at home with me) with aspergers and epilepsy and his youngest sister (6 years old) has a peanut allergy. My middle daughter is 18 and just about to graduate from high school…she is the “neuro-typical” kid except the “typical” teenage girl drama. So I have a range of what I have to “remember” on a daily basis…and I do forget things – like I pick up a box of granola bars and put it in the shopping cart when suddenly my daughter looks at me longingly and asks, “mommy, do those have peanuts?”. I grab the box and stick it on a random shelf feeling stupid because I forgot that I can’t buy those. It helps to know that I am not the only one!!
Thanks for sharing this story!
April- THANKS for your comment! I feel for your “typical” teenage girl drama having a 12YO as well. My son practically lives on peanut butter so when we have to do “nut-free” stuff at school it’s traumatic. Aspergers, epilepsy, nut allergy. That sounds like one too many things. Or two.
Some days it does feel like 2 too many – most days there is enough love to make our family feel perfectly normal!
Completely understand…Done it a time or two myself
Very happy to know I’m not the only idiot parent out there, Anne!