This kid. Lately we call him Philosopher Bean. I kick around ideas with him, and he bats them back to me, with questions tacked on and insights I had not considered. He’s got way more of his dad in him than I ever expected—and they’re the very best parts. I see beautiful pieces of David developing and rising to the top.
He’s a deep thinker. And his deep thoughts are on big—sometimes metaphysical—vast spiritual and scientific ideas. He grasps abstract concepts and mathematics in ways that take my breath away, and these quantum leaps in growth have happened seemingly overnight. It leaves me trying to catch my balance as his mom.
I had been kicking around the idea of writing my next book on raising a gifted child with autism. But, as he’s grown, I have pushed that idea further and further back. If I do write this book, I believe it will be with him. I am aware of and support the movement away from parents controlling the narrative about their children with disabilities. Bean will have his own voice, his own memories, his own perspective on his upbringing, and it will be his to tell, should he want to. I don’t anticipate this potential project being easy or painless, but I think it might be worthwhile. Someday.
In the meantime, I am learning how to move away from the intense intervention that was needed from me when he was younger, into more of a supporting role as he moves to the forefront of his own advocacy. It’s not always easy, but me getting out of the way is integral to him taking over his own growth. And he is more than capable.
When he needs me, I am still there—and I always will be. But stepping back at the appropriate time is a huge part of raising a child with a disability. It has been my job to protect him, to advocate for him, to insist on the services he was entitled to, to provide the scaffolding he needed to grow and learn; but the real goal has always been to someday not need those supports.
He had a bit of a rough patch this week, but in the days afterwards, he had insights into himself that he couldn’t have received any other way. Not only could he see that, but he was able to explain it to me, talk about it, and frame those insights into usable tools for himself for the future.
This kid. He has been a singular gift to this family since his birth. As I watch him get ready to move beyond his family, to flap and test his wings, and interact with the world, I wonder what gifts he has in store for the rest of us. Bear with me as I figure out how to navigate the changed mothering roles necessary in this new world. Respecting him, his wishes, his story, and if I can, still carve out a space for my own overflowing heart.
In the meantime, I will return to reading the crazy-dense article on particle physics he found about capturing light waves and freezing the light particles in crystalline form, and how this may solve the world’s energy problems.