In a Facebook post earlier today a friend mentioned that her autistic daughter has never had a real friend. Ever. She’s 16.
In another blog I read about a teenage boy whose meltdowns became so severe that the police had to be called, not because he is a criminal but because he is simply too big, too strong for his parents. They can no longer keep him safe. They can no longer keep themselves or his younger sibling safe.
It is in those stories; those brief glimpses into what lies ahead of us in this journey that I feel my heartbeat quicken and the panic rise. All parents wish their children didn’t grow up but for me, it is not simply because I want her to stay little and have endless tea parties. It is cold, hard, in your face terror of what the years ahead hold for us.
You see, right now it’s “simple.” She’s 5. She struggles socially but is academically on target, and in some places I dare say gifted. Her classmates notice that she’s different but they still try. They still holler, “Bye!” when I pick her up from school. There is one little girl in her class that always tries to care for her; look out for her.
Her meltdowns are not that frequent and when they happen I can bring her back; literally or figuratively. I can still help. I can still reach her.
Mama’s touch still works.
What will I do when it doesn’t?
What will happen if I can no longer reach her when the world becomes to much?
What will happen if no one is hollering “Bye!” at the end of a school day?
How will we navigate that? CAN I navigate that? Am I strong enough, good enough? Is my love big enough to hold her up in these moments?
As I type the very mention of it is invoking anxiety.
I feel like I should read as much as I can, learn as much as I can- as if my daughter’s adolescence is test I cannot fail. In a very real way, it is.
I wish I could tell you that there is a point to this post. There is no magic answer, no deep wisdom; there is nothing but fear.
This is a scary maze of growing up with our kids; trying to find the right turns to lead them to the best life they can possibly have and I’m in it with you.