1. I’m always late. I do my best not to be like this, but … So my Sunday confession is on a Monday.
2. I do many things in a shoddy half hearted way. I do my best not to be like this, but … So the hot cross buns this year were hot even-tempered buns. I just wanted them in the oven and out again so I could eat three in a row for lunch. Hence, no crosses. (They’re only flour and water anyway so they don’t exactly add to the taste).
3. There are still three tiny eggs that the children didn’t find during the hunt. I’m not telling them. They will be my morning tea tomorrow when they’re all safely at school.
4. Wanting to slap Son #2 when he told #3 in a fit of pique that it’s actually Mum who hides the eggs, not the Easter Bunny.
5. Not realising that listening to Watership Down in the car to school and back all last week was perhaps a trifle insensitive in the lead up to Easter. Also insensitive: giggling at the look on Son #3’s face yesterday when he was about to bite the ears off his chocolate bunny and Son #1 said in an evil whisper Yours looks just like Hazel, don't you think?
6. I finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time this morning. You know, the one about/written by the boy with Aspergers. It touched me and made me feel really guilty for being so grateful, so very grateful that Son #1 doesn’t have Aspergers. Cos heaven knows I worry about him enough, and he grew out of all those Aspergers tendencies a couple of years ago. And my confession is that I just wasn’t a great parent to him when he was younger. From very early on we knew he was different, but you tend to be dismissed when it’s your firstborn and people assume you’re being just another ignorant first-time parent. But he never cuddled or snuggled, arched away when you touched him, and freaked out when his routine was interrupted. Then as he got older he became obsessed with things. Like, really obsessed. Not like other children whose mothers said ‘oh yes my little girl is obsessed with pink!’. No, he was OBSESSED with red. He lived, ate, breathed and totally immersed himself in red. For months. A year or so later it was space, then geology/rocks/minerals, and then, bizarrely, french horns for eight and a half months followed by violins for nineteen days. Other parents thought it was sweet and interesting, which it kind of was, but it was also spooky. Then he developed tics, which could be verbal or physical. And which made him look like a freak. And teachers/shopkeepers/strangers in elevators would take me aside and suggest I seek help. Each tic would last a few weeks before being replaced by another mind-alteringly annoying/embarrassing tic, and sometimes two tics would overlap for a few days. Plus there were odd neurotic fears and dislikes that didn’t make sense [to people who weren’t Son #1]. By this time we had had Son #2 who is quite a conventional personality and so this merely threw #1’s weird behaviour into relief. And so I did a bit of internet symptom-investigation which is always a dangerous thing (ie. at the moment I have a painful lump under my left armpit. Try Googling that and not hyperventilating at the results) and it came to pass that I discovered all sorts of things like Aspergers, Multiple Tic Syndrome, Transient Tic Syndrome, Tourettes, ADHD etc etc, many of which are linked and there is kind of a sliding scale of severity. And lo it was terribly scary and saddening but oh my giddy aunt everything fell into place and I learnt about triggers and I also stopped hating his behaviour and hating myself and thinking I had made my child this way. I also learnt that without Aspergers Syndrome and other high functioning autism the world would be without the majority of its computer programmers, engineers and astronauts. Not to mention mathematicians. Son #1 is as hopeless at maths as I am so I knew there was no chance he would become a Rain Man or anything.
But having a reason was so helpful. My rage and sadness eased. Naturopathics and homeopathics helped with the triggers and also some of the tics and symptoms. And life went on and we all learnt to live with Son #1’s "funnies".
But then something happened. He turned nine and reached a sort of crossing. The tics gradually lessened to the point where he now gets them only when he’s extremely tired or stressed (Triggers Number One and Two), the obsessions mellowed into Healthy Interests, and most miraculous of all, he became a cuddly affectionate child who is generous, thoughtful, and loving toward others. The odd behaviours segued into more socially acceptable eccentricities, and I stopped being embarrassed by him every time we were in the presence of others. And then, THEN, [and I will never stop thanking the gods above for this], he found music. Yes, it was an obsession for a long while; he lived, breathed, ate, thought music all day long. But with the discovery of music, he found himself. He learnt to interact with other people more easily through the language of music. He found an outlet for all his frustrations and difficulties. He discovered his place in the world.
And my confession(s)? Guilt for feeling so grateful that he (mostly) grew out of all those syndrome-y symptoms. Guilt for not being a better parent to him when he was at the outer edge of the ‘normal’ spectrum. Guilt for all those years of wanting him to be firmly within that ‘normal’ circle. Guilt for not finding the courage to accept him for who he was but always pushing him to be what I wanted him to be. Guilt for finding him so much easier to love these days.