This month you turned sweet sixteen.
And truly, how sweet you are.
I admit, when I held you in my arms when you were a baby and envisioned your future, I never imagined this.
I thought at this point you’d be answering me (if you answered me at all) in grunts and monosyllables. I thought we’d begin teaching you how to drive. I believed we’d start those college discussions. Maybe you’d share with me the amazing character traits of the girl you like.
Then again, maybe not.
We are not living any of my dreams.
Instead, we are living yours.
Your dreams include a steady diet of YouTube videos of Baby Einstein and Classical Baby. Your preferred activities center around a plethora of different DVDs from your past. The closest you will come to driving is your participation on the Hertz Rent-a-car site (you have conquered Monmouth County).
Your life is pretty much as it was when you were a toddler, except for the fact that you can type in your own internet searches, a skill for which I am extremely grateful as it brings you so much joy.
My goal has always been for you to feel joy.
I won’t lie to you and tell you I gave up those dreams for you without a fight, or that the fact you’ll never realize them still makes me sad. Some people will support me on this, some will vilify me.
It’s okay, because sometimes at the end of the day my feelings about you were all I had left.
It’s okay, because after sixteen years of raising autism I am pretty inured to what people think.
My solace is you won’t miss the trappings of a neurotypical teenaged life. You won’t pine for the freedom of a car, a particular red-headed girl, or to leave your parents behind.
I’m pretty sure you’d live with me forever if you could. You are always happier at home, with me.
That is a dream I wish I could make come true for you.
I’ve accepted that my heart will always simultaneously ache and soar for you. I am so grateful, grateful beyond words, that we have weathered your latest crisis and for the better part of a year you have returned to you ebullient, loving self.
I missed you. And as difficult as it was for me, I can’t even imagine how difficult your suffering was for you.
I know there will be more challenges up ahead. So for now I am reveling in our “sweet spot,” my sweet sixteen.
I hope the coming year brings you continued joy.
I hope your seventeenth year sees you safe.
I wish you love, laughter, and peace.
I love you.
Happy birthday to my beautiful boy!
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