Sunday, August 10, 2014

My fears for Max

Max starts pre-school in a few weeks.  I am really excited for him to start a new phase in life, but I also have so many fears.  I have been laying awake at night thinking about not just preschool but elementary school and high school.  I have reservations about sending Max to school, but I know in my heart this is the right thing for him and for our family. 

I am going back to work part time starting this week.  I am going to be teaching 6th grade math at Walden School in Provo.  I am excited.  I love teaching.  But there is part of me that worries about leaving the boys, especially Max.  Will is going to be home with both boys.  Max goes to pre-school two times a week at first, then most likely will switch to three days.  He will be at school in the morning. 

Why do I lay up at night?  Why do I worry?

I hate the term "getting better" because he isn't sick.  He doesn't have a cold, or the flu.  He has Autism.  He improves.  He learns.  He grows.  He has set backs.  He is going to have difficult things to deal with in his life.  Especially socially.  I worry about those things.  I have fears.  

My fears are simple fears. But real to me. 
1.  Will Max make friends.  Real friends.  Not just friends who "deal" with him or are forced to be nice to him.  But friends that will love him and his quirks.  Friends that will understand and accept him for the special boy he is.  Friends that will come over and watch Disney movies and won't care if he has all the lines memorized and all the actions in sync. 
2.  Is he going to be able to leave Will.  Max is so attached to his Dad.  They are best friends.  They get each other.  Will understands Max more than anyone.  And Max uses will for comfort, friendship and making the connection between his own world and the world we live in. 
 3.  Bullying.  Teasing.  And being unkind.  I think I worry about this the most.  I have already seen other kids laugh at him and make fun of him.  I have seen kids laugh at the way he "talks" and mumbles, the way he tantrums and the way he plays with trucks.  I notice.  I hope that Max will learn to stand up for himself, or have a group of friends that will stand up for him. 

The other day we were at the mall.  Max was having a total meltdown in front of The Gap.  I am used to other parents looking, staring and giving me the stink eye.  I laugh at it now, but it used to really bug me.  Sometimes I want to scream and say "so your child is perfect and has never had a tantrum in public, wow, you are blessed!"  But I don't.  I keep calm and concentrate on my son.  But this particular day there were kids sitting on a bench watching him, and laughing.  It broke my heart.  Max looks older, at least 4 or 5.  He shouldn't be acting like this.  But he is 3 and Autistic.  So this is what we deal with. 
4.  I fear that his brother is going to resent him.  I fear that he is going to be embarrassed by him.  I look forward to the day where Will and I get to talk to Dexter about Max.  Explain to him how Max's mind works.  Explain that he needs to be loved and accepted. 
 5.  He is going to be labeled at school as a "problem" or a kid that "has issues."  Trust me.  I am a teacher.  I know these things happen.  I pray that he has teachers throughout school that love him and accept him.  I try to be this teacher in my own classroom.

Max still has hard days.  When people see him, they usually see him in his element or at a good moment.  But when our condo door closes and he has a meltdown, a panic attack, or stays up until 3 or 4 am that is reality.  That is what we deal with.  It is hard to explain to people "Yes he is doing well, he is learning new things, he is saying more words."  When the night before was hard.  When he hit his head so hard on the wall that he has a bruise. 

 Fears.  These are also real.  

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