Today is The Boy's 14th birthday.
I've had some trouble thinking what to write about him today. I feel I can't write the typical "he's a great kid, has lots of friends, is helpful"...blah blah blah - because he's NOT the typical kid. He probably won't ever be...but I still like him.
I am grateful that he was born after I had my daughters. That way, I got to experience "normal" motherhood; if he had been first, I'm not sure I would have had a second child, let alone a third. Selfish, huh? I had my first child when I was 19, I don't think I had the knowledge and patience to deal with a child with special needs. But I'm sure I could have "manned up" and faced the challenge, as they say, if the need arose.
Instead, I had him at the other end of the childbearing pendulum - where I had patience in abundance, but lacked some of the physical stamina I had during my first ride on the mommy merry-go-round. Guess it was lucky for me that he had no interest in baseball or riding a bicycle.
Since keeping friends is not one of The Boy's finely honed social skills, he and I were best buds for a long time. And because having a child whose behavior is often unpredictable is the death knell of adult friendships, too, this setup worked for me (though I had a school psychologist say that we were enmeshed, which is a bad thing). This past year, he is starting to pull away from me, to prefer the solitude of his room, and his books and video games, like all adolescents do. I see that as a positive sign.
Actually, I see lots of positive changes in The Boy. Although he may not be on par with kids his age (academically and emotionally), there is hope that someday, he'll be a functioning member of society. His career aspiration? To work as a puppeteer for the Jim Henson Company (Jim Henson is one of his heroes).
Right now, when I look at him (on the outside), I see a young man - on the inside, not so much. And note that I didn't call him "my baby", even though he is. He both likes and hates it when I call him that.
He's picked Steak n' Shake for dinner (he wants to have the Butterfinger milkshake). We'll have family over during the weekend to mark the occasion, and eat cake with too much frosting.
I am so humbled that I've been given the opportunity to be his mom. I have learned far more from his being in my life than I've ever taught him. And we've both had the privilege of meeting some pretty incredible teachers, aides, doctors, therapists and other support personnel who have showed such care and helped both of us on this adventure. Oh, we've also met a couple of real stinkers, but we don't hold grudges here, it simply isn't done. They know who they are - I'm sure The Boy has insulted them at some point.
Happy Birthday, Boy! I love you more than anything. Now get out of the refrigerator, you just ate!