Encounter

They were walking on the sidewalk as I neared my driveway, a mom and her little boy.  He looked to be five or six years old.  I pulled in to park and got out of the car.  The little boy was running toward me, a tablet in his hand, his mother walking a few feet behind.

Uh oh, I thought.  What are they selling?  Can I pretend I don’t see them?   Too late:  the boy was just a few feet away.  He was fast.  I said a tentative hi, and he paused, lifted his tablet in a sort of salute, and rushed past me into my back yard.

“I’m sorry,” said the mom. “My son is autistic.  We live in the house on the hill, across the street.”   I recognized her expression: apologetic, worried, tired.   Maybe she was wondering if I was going to be upset, ask why she couldn’t control her kid, ask her to get out of my yard…  Or would I say something well-intentioned but insulting?

“That’s cool.  My son is autistic, too,” I said.   We talked for a while until her son was ready to leave, trading war stories, talking about school, sports, and music.    She relaxed, but only a bit, her eyes frequently darting to her son, making sure he didn’t need her help or intervention.  It was like seeing a video of myself from 12 years ago.  I wish I’d known other moms in my situation, especially ones further down the road with their kids.

After a while her son came back, and the two of them continued on their zigzagging way.

 

Letting Go…

On Sunday I finished an 18-year project:  Sonny graduated high school.  Four days later, here we are at college orientation.  Or rather, here I am at the parents’ orientation, while Sonny is with the other rising freshmen.  We were separated approximately 30 seconds after we got out of the car.   Parent orientation is all about how our kids are now considered to be adults, so we parents need to back off.  At most, we need to be helicopter parents and not lawnmower parents (helicopters on steroids evidently mutate into lawnmowers), and be ready to ground our copters in a year or two.

We are told that all correspondence is going straight to our kids, not to us.  Tuition bills, medical forms, insurance waivers, housing applications, the lot.  Every deadline: communicated to the kids.  I break into a cold sweat, remembering the many times Sonny has told me about something crucial that’s due the next day, or that afternoon.

I have to let go, but first I have to get Sonny to September with all deadlines met.