Not to brag or anything, but I have GREAT kids. Absolutely wonderful, marvelous, intelligent, witty, entertaining kids, and I adore each and every one of them.
Okay, so I’m bragging. Shoot me.
I never really cared much for children until I had my own. In fact, I still don’t care much for children except my own. All right, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but my kids are definitely better than your kids; don’t even bother trying to argue with me about it, because, gee – you’ll lose. I know everyone thinks their own children are exceptional, but in my case it just happens to be true.
Seriously, though, before Oldest Son was born, I never thought I could love another human being as much as I did him. It took me totally by surprise – it still does. Sometimes I look at him and wonder how the poor guy ever survived being a first child and all the mistakes I made, but he did. A quiet and serious child, and the epitome of the angst-ridden teenager (he was emo before they had a word for it), he grew up into a serious, responsible, level-headed adult who takes an avid interest in politics and culture and has a wicked sense of humor. We are about as close at it is possible for a mother and son to be.
When I found out I was expecting Darling Daughter, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to love a second child as much as I love Oldest Son, so, again, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t so – I could, and do, love her every bit as much. My Rebellious One, she often seems devoid of the common sense that characterizes her older brother (and her younger one, for that matter), and I often wondered if I was going to survive her adolescence. Beloved calls her “Teflon Girl” because she has an uncanny knack for getting herself into situations that you just know are going to turn out badly, then coming out of them completely unscathed – and often smelling like a rose. The fact that she is beautiful (I don’t have a picture that does her justice) as well as one of the most charming people alive probably helps a great deal. I kid you not – the girl could sell air conditioners to Eskimos.
I talk a lot about The Young One here, mostly because he’s the only chick left in the nest, but also because not a day goes by that he doesn’t just amaze me. Three months premature and weighing only 2 pounds 4 1/2 ounces, we were told it was quite possible he would’t make it. Needless to say, he not only survived but thrived – at least physically. In fact, he was quite precocious physically; he sat up, crawled and walked way before the norm for a preemie. But by the time he was two, it became clear there was something wrong. Perhaps very wrong.
He didn’t talk, for one. At all. In fact, he didn’t talk until he was nearly five years old (now you can’t get him to shut up). He didn’t seem to take much interest in the world around him, although he could focus on one specific activity for periods of time that was frankly amazing for a toddler. He threw terrible, horrible temper tantrums that no one could do anything to stop until he just wore himself out. He had (and still does) issues with food – it practically took an act of congress to get him to try a new food, and he would often gag when eating.
I had his hearing tested, I took him to a speech therapist and begged the doctor to have him tested for Pervasive Developmental Disorder. He refused, saying The Young One simply wasn’t on the autism spectrum, which I felt was bullshit – I still do. And as The Young One got older, his problems slowly but surely got better – or we just learned to deal with them more effectively. The temper tantrums gradually stopped, he began to take more of an interest in his surroundings, although it’s just been in the last few years that he’s really begun socializing with kids his own age, and he began to talk (quite a bit, actually…sometimes to excess). Even today, though, he will begin a sentence then start over, sometimes several times, before he finishes it, but even this is becoming more and more infrequent.
It wasn’t until fairly recently that it occurred to anyone that he probably suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. I haven’t had him formally diagnosed, and probably won’t since the older he gets the milder his symptoms become; he is, in fact, at 14, practically asymptomatic and I see no need to needlessly stigmatize him.
I simply enjoy that I can have instant message conversations on Yahoo like this with him and his brother:
Me: So, what are you up to this afternoon?
The Young One: Nothing, really. Watching Glenn Beck.
Me: Why on earth are you watching Glenn Beck?!?!
TYO: There’s nothing else on.
Me, to Oldest Son: Your brother is watching Glenn Beck.
OS: Well, tell him to stop before his brain rots.
Me, to TYO: Oldest Son says to stop watching Glenn Beck before your brain rots.
TYO: He’d rather I watch Bill O’Reilly?
OS, after I relayed that message: Well, he has a point there.
For other exceptional posts about other exceptional children, visit Sprite’s Keeper and the Spin Cycle.