Me: I am going to miss you when I am gone (B and I are going to SLC this weekend)
Andre: I’ll miss you too
Me: Why will you miss me
Andre: You do my laundry, you cook for me, You make my lunch
Me: Is the only reason you’ll miss me is because of all the things I do for you
Andre: Well, to be honest it helps
Me: So what are you going to do when I am not able to do those things for you
Andre: Well, I guess I will get married
I love my son. Truly I do. But because of his autism everything to him is from a “what are you going to do for me” perspective and very rarely a “what can I do for you” thought even occurs to him. The one daily chore he is expected to do is often a battlefield and it doesn’t matter to him that everyone else is doing their part. This lack of reciprocal interaction or loving behavior on his part often makes me feel hollow inside.
With most children you have some sort of back and forth relationship. A relationship in which the child wants to please the adult in their life and vice versa. Usually it’s a fairly balanced equation. We get something and we give something back. Even if that something is just a touch or a smile. That just isn’t really important to Andre. He spends more time figuring out how to get his way at all costs than ever considering the fact that sometimes people need a hug or a kind word to keep them going. This “I give to you and you give to me” thought process never occurs to him and sometimes it gets very old. Sometimes it feels like I am doing all the giving and getting little to nothing in return. When this happens it feels like a day spent outdoors in the hot sun just digging hole after hole after hole.
For me, this is one of the hardest parts about autism; this “I don’t give a shit about anyone else but me” thought process. Give me a monster tantrum anytime. Give me nonsense talk too. Give me the messy room, the sneaking food upstairs and the snarky comments. I can take all those and more. But sometimes what I long for is just a genuine back and forth dialogue lasting over 5 minutes followed by an Andre initiated hug at the end of our time together.
If I could change how autism looks in regards to my son this is what I would change. And who knows maybe this will click into place for him someday. Until then, I will sit here and wait knowing in my heart of hearts that even though he rarely shows it that my son really does love me. For that is all I have to sustain me at the present time.