Red and Blue may be a little old for "tucking in" so we don't really call it that. We call it "me time". It may be 10 minutes, it may be 2 minutes. But after all is said and done for the day, no matter how many meltdowns we've had, or how many words that have been screamed, I tell them that I love them every-single-night before they sleep in this house.
It should have been a simple, ordinary day, but nothing in our lives is simple or ordinary. Blue had his orthodontic appointment at 10 a.m. Afterwards, we had breakfast together at a local diner. We came home so that I could get Red all packed up for camp.
For Blue, there would be no friends over for the day. Everyone is unavailable, for some reason or another, rather it be traveling with family, or ordinary family obligations. This means it's a day for him to chill here at the house. As much as I love to chill, here at home ...he hates it! He doesn't know how to relax. He's a full-fledged teenager, Aspergers or not, who wants to socialize with his friends at every possible, free moment.
I am busy washing clothes, labeling them, running up and down the stairs, getting Red's trunk packed for the Autism Summer Camp that he will be going to the following day. A few years ago, I looked at these camps and only dreamed of sending him to one. They are so expensive! We fall somewhere in the middle, making too much money for scholarships, but hardly able to afford this luxury. Hubby and I decided to sacrifice our vacation for 2 for his 50th birthday, in order to be able to send Red to this camp. He is so close to 18 ...we are putting all of our money on getting him ready for adulthood. We are hoping and praying that every step we take, will help him grow, mature, and get a grip on reality!
This mama washed brand new clothes, underwear, and sheets, out of the package, so that they would be April fresh when he put them next to his skin and on his bunk. I had to buy new, twin sheets, because he has a queen bed here. Blue has a full. I pray that those sheets will get used again very soon when one of them goes off to college. I bought the twin extra-long kind, just in case.
Well of course, through out the day there is one fight after another, one melt-down after another, over simple things.
Blue -Why do you leave the bathroom door cracked when you use it? Close the door!
Red -What difference does it make? Stop being so bossy ...telling me what to do!
Blue -Stop making so many mistakes!
Later that day Blue tells him -You don't know shit from honey!
*Yeah...thanks a lot Grandfather. You taught your grandson these fine words while he visited you this summer.
Red hunches up his shoulders in his tough guy, I'm-gonna-kick-your-ass stance. Blue does not back down.
Later, Blue melts down because Windows 8 isn't working correctly.
"Technology never works the way it's supposed to! Damn this Windows 8!"
I actually make him come and watch television. I miss those days when Disney movies were the best babysitter ever. Now I can almost never get Blue to sit down and watch t.v. or a movie here at home.
"Sit down! I mean it! You're going to watch a movie or a t.v. show until you laugh damn-it!"
What mother has to make her child watch television? An autism mother...that's who!
He would rather fight with the computer and be angry than to literally change the channel and zone out with a little television. I make him watch an episode of the Big Bang Theory. Love that show! You can't watch it and not laugh. Well...I can't anyway.
After the episode, we found a movie on HBO that he had never seen ...Cowboys and Aliens.
He was actually distracted for a while, until he made cookies and couldn't enjoy them because his teeth were hurting from the earlier ortho appointment. Then it was meltdown city all over again!
In between all of the packing, refereeing, and meltdown wrangling ...I would periodically check Facebook hoping for some quick laughter with some of my friends. You know...to lighten up the heavy mood in the house. Only towards the end of the evening, I started to see the posts. "Zimmerman Found Not Guilty."
Ugh, I felt it down in my gut. I was not surprised, but disappointed. I did watch parts of the trial thanks to my mother, Mrs. T.V. Court Shows. She watches them like it's her job and she is getting paid.
Perhaps the case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind, that the young man did not have to die that night. He did not have to be shot in the heart. In the end...God will be the final judge. There are no winners in this situation.
I ache for my own young-black men, who can be and have been, profiled at some time in their lives. Assumptions have been made because of the color of their skin. It's happened at one point or another to every single-black man that I know, including my husband and brothers. My brother was once harassed right in front of his very own house while washing his car ...a black man, in a white neighborhood, washing a fancy car. How dare him! They actually hassled him, because he didn't have an I.D. Who has an I.D. when you're outside washing your freaking car!?
On top of the fact, that racism that is still very much alive in America, my boys also have a hidden disability. They have autism. They see the world differently. They have issues with explosive anger and depression. They have low self-esteem in some ways, because of constantly fighting the battle of feeling different.
We live in a county in Texas that is known for putting poor whites, and young blacks behind bars at the drop of a hat. I fear the day that they encounter the police and assumptions are made, before there is an opportunity to explain who they really are and why they behave in certain ways.
On the very day of this verdict, I found myself explaining to Red why you can't say certain things because they will be considered a valid threat, even if you don't really mean it.
"You're 17 years-old...you will be held accountable for things that you say, even in anger. You never want to end up in a situation where a police officer, an attorney or a judge has to determine your fate."
I swear for the love of me...he honestly could not wrap his mind around these facts. He does not get it! I don't know if he will ever get it!
I try to teach him about personal responsibility for his actions and his words. He will come back at me and say things like, "Well that's just not fair! Why are police officers so mean? Why are judges so selfish? These laws are just unfair!" He really does not get how cruel and unjust the world really is. He does not automatically receive the value that he assumes he should have. He doesn't even seem to understand that he has to live by the rules of the world, not by the rules that are in his head.
But you see...that is autism. He lives inside of his head...inside of his very own world. The problem and the reality is, that he also lives in America. He lives in the state of Texas, where the color of his skin, compounds the microscope that he is under. Chances are ...if he ever gets into a legal situation, his disability may or may not be taken into account. I can't walk in his shoes...I can't be with him all of the time. I can't protect him from the reality that is America.
As I tuck Blue into bed on this night, he says to me, "I'm so sad Mom. I'm so tired of being angry. I hate when I upset you. I'm just tired of this."
My heart is especially heavy. I want to take away his pain. I want him to be happy and be able to see and feel the blessings of his life. All I can do is say, "You're going to be fine. We just have to get through these teenage, hormonally imbalanced years. It will get better."
I tell him that I love him before I say goodnight. I feel blessed that he has both myself and his father in this home, together, raising him, loving him, rooting for him. In reality, I don't know if that will be enough to keep him safe...to help him make it in this unjust society. I can't tell him my deepest fears. He has enough of his own.
Minutes later, I bribe Red into bed. "If you want me to make a nice breakfast for you tomorrow...you will go to bed now. Otherwise, you can have cold cereal before you go off to camp."
He gets in to bed...and I give him the hug that he has been asking for all day. He asks for hugs at least 20 times during the average day...usually, at inappropriate times, for no other reason I think than to bug the shit out of me! I am trying to teach him about boundaries and space. He is twice my size and weight, and he wants to swallow me up in smothering hugs. I don't like it...it becomes annoying, especially when it's hot or I am in the middle of something that requires focus. Some day, there will be a girl, who may or may not welcome all of these hugs, and he will have to learn to respect that. It starts right here with me.
But on this night...the night of the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman verdict. I think of Trayvon's mother who can no longer hold her teenage son in her arms. I give Red the hug that he has been wanting and that I am so blessed to be able to give him.