I woke up yesterday morning (that would be three a.m. yesterday morning) with a horrible case of the stomach flu. By the time my 5 year old son woke up it was all I could do to climb out of bed dump some cereal in the bowl for him and then return to the comfort of my mattress.
My son decided that I deserved a little TLC and made it his business to ‘tuck me in.’ Every night when I put him to bed I give him his favorite stuffed animal and read him a story. So my child went to his closet, dug out a stuffed animal from my childhood that I had passed down to him and gave it to me to cuddle with. Then, sensing that ‘Good Night Dinosaur’ wasn’t appropriate, he pulled out an issue of National Geographic and attempted to read me that. He struggled with the words and then finally gave up and started describing the pictures to me.
The funny thing is that this was a child who was almost diagnosed with Asperger’s less than a year ago. For those of you that don’t know, Asperger’s is a high functioning type of autism and a very trendy diagnosis these days. One of the defining characteristics is that those who have it lack empathy.
We live in a time in which the tendency is to diagnose anyone who is a little different. Like me, my son is a bit quirky—but when I was a kid it was just called being…well quirky. No one tried to pin a disorder or a disease on me.
The concern was that my son seemed to be fixated on subjects like evolution and Ancient Egypt. I have a feeling that if he had been fixated on Barney no one would have had a problem. It’s true that he’s had some challenges in school—it’s the main reason that I’m homeschooling. The problem is that his interests are often a little different than the other kids, he has a hard time sitting still and he is extremely sensitive and prone to emotional outbursts.
To give you a sense of who he is let me relay a conversation we had a few days ago. For some reason we were talking about prejudice and why some adults are mean to others. I told him that adult bullying is basically the same as kid bullying. In both cases it usually starts when a person is afraid of something (usually something they don’t understand) and in order to feel protected and stronger they become a bully.
My son peered at me through his wire-rimmed glasses and said, “But that doesn’t work. That just makes the fear spread. Fear’s like a cold—you can catch it.”
My son is definitely quirky and I love him for it..
Sex, Murder And A Double Latte—May 2005