Sockpants and Super Heroes: The Future
While I have owned my failure in maintaining a timeline of dates that my children held a cup for first time or when they first ate solid foods, I have instead been incredibly diligent about chronicling their many childhood adventures and bloopers. For whatever reason, I seem to have a natural knack for capturing their sassy and spunky personalities in short little stories and quips, some of which I share on social media for the benefit of my friends’ amusement.
From single mother dating bloopers to the exploratory use of the eff word, I’ve chronicled just about everything over the years. While all of these rite of passage moments most certainly provide me an entertaining hobby and have kept my friends highly amused over the years, there are times, despite the humor, I find myself with a heavy heart.
Losing his older brother has forced my 13 year-old son, Tyler, to grow up faster than I’d like. Several weeks ago, I overheard a conversation between him and his nine-year old brother, Caleb, who is diagnosed with high functioning autism, about where they would live when they get older. “How do you feel about living with me in California when you grow up?” After some thought and a series of questions, Caleb was quite agreeable to the idea of living with his big brother. While most parents would be congratulating themselves that they successfully raised children that love each other enough to want to be roommates as adult, I instead felt overwhelming sadness. “You don't have to make plans to take care of Caleb when he gets older. That's my job. You should be making your own big adventure plans instead of worrying about him,” I said. “Yeah, well about that,” he scoffs. “What if someday Caleb wants to have a girlfriend? How do you think it will look if Caleb has to tell the girl, ‘Let me check with my mom.’ I think it would be way cooler if he could say, ‘Sure. I’ll let my bro know.’ And let's face it. You'd get all mom on him, but I'd be like, ‘Cool, buddy. I'll stay out late. Have fun!’” While the kid had a very good point, the fact remained that we both clearly questioned Caleb’s ability to live an independent life.
“Well if you have confidence that your brother will have a girlfriend when he gets older then maybe we need to have more confidence that Caleb will be able to live a happy and independent life without living with either one of us,” I said. Pondering that for a moment, Tyler says, “Maybe. But don’t forget, mom, Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory has an independent life, but that’s mostly because he’s surrounded by cool friends that are tolerant and accepting of all his quirks. I’m going to make sure that my friends do that too. We’ll always accept Caleb.”
The truth is, neither one of us knows what Caleb’s future will look like, but I am more committed than ever to making sure that Caleb learns all the life skills and social pragmatics that I can teach him. And while it makes my heart heavy that Tyler feels that the role of watching out for his brother rests solely on his shoulders, there is comfort in knowing that Caleb will always have a full and rich life with his brother by his side looking out for him.
I’ve recently come to the realization that this entertaining hobby of mine will eventually come to an end. Someday my kids will all spread their wings and leave the nest. So I’ll be looking for a new pastime in my golden years. But hopefully, if Tyler proves to be anything like his mother, some of those days will be catching up on reading about his own adventures he’s written in a column perhaps entitled, “Sockpants and Super Bros.”