I have not had the time that it takes lately to sit and clack the keys, that’s rather unfortunate too as I have so much swirling in my head. At this moment though, I am sipping my coffee on a beautiful Sunday morning, the chores are done- which means the chickens have been fed, the dogs are outside and have eaten as well and my sewer cat is out roaming the streets somewhere in front of my home. Irene my daughter is sliding through the house in her slipper socks on the hardwood floors humming one of her favorite tunes while she intermittently hops in my bed and pulls the covers over- before she starts her routine again for another round.
This little ditty is about her, my daughter Irene, I am her best friend. I am her only friend as well. I am the mother of an Autistic child and while she may look like your average girl on the outside- she is not. More importantly you may think she is just like everyone else- she is not. What is normal for some is not for others. Irene is different. She is sixteen and has no friends but me, no real friends. No one. She is humming in her room right now, it’s the sweetest sound ever. We are getting ready to go on an outing, one she actually wants to go on, not one I have to drag her on. It is winter so she will be wearing her earmuffs, which really protect her from the sounds of the outside world. I cannot tell you how many sets we have gone through.
I try really hard to get her involved in outside activities, to expose her to the outside world I want her to participate in life one day on her own. I hope she participates one day on her own. We are in Girl Scouts, Swimming, Knitting Club, Kindness Club, and even a Youth Advisory Council. Some of those I push her into and some of those my darling daughter has chosen on her own- to my amazement. It has taken years of Social Skills classes, for the both of us, for her to come out of her shell.
She’s still there, in that shell mostly though and that’s ok. She’s in her own little world most of the time. My job as her parent, the parent of an Autistic child, is a little harder than the parent of any other child. Why? She IS different. She does not know the value of a dollar and will give it away, all of it, if I am not constantly reminding her of how to gauge her money. She does not know of friends, real friends, or those who want to be kind to take something from her. The world we live in will take it from her. It will take all of it from her if I let it- It will take her innocence.
I know I can’t protect her from everything, but I can try. I don’t go out often and when I do it’s calculated for short periods of time. I do not take her everywhere either, she doesn’t want to go and she doesn’t have to. She is sixteen now and can stay home alone, but I don’t like to leave her for long. Alone. More importantly I need to keep my eye on her when I take her wherever- why, because I am her mother. She is not your average sixteen year old girl, even though she looks the part.
Irene has shot a gun, a rifle if you will and she has been kissed; all on one outing, that I trusted the kids around us to let her go with. That I listened to those parents around me say it will be ok, she will be fine, let her go have fun. It only took one hour if that for all that to happen- her first kiss, from a boy she didn’t know and still doesn’t. From a boy she doesn’t even recall his name. That is not how I wanted her first kiss to be. That shouldn’t be how anyone’s first kiss is. I should not have found out six months later in an office where things were being discussed and words like depression and medication were being hurled around. That is how it happened though. I know better.
I was chatting with a mother last week about these very things. She knows my story because she lives it too. We get to comfort one another because sometimes people around us don’t understand, especially when she looks just like every other sixteen year old girl. She’s loud sometimes, she panics, she cries and yells; these happen much less than they did before. Now she has moved on to pulling her hair out-I don’t even think she is aware of it. Depression, Anxiety, Autism, ADHD are all wrapped up with the sweetest smile you will ever see humming the most beautiful sounds. I was meant to be her mother for a reason, I was chosen.
I started these words in the morning, but took a break to do some things she loves. We went to Apple Hill, and to a few of her favorite stores. She doesn’t even like apples, or the buzz of the place and the people around. She enjoyed today though as it was quiet and the people of the season had already come and gone; French fries and Honey Stix, that’s it, all she wanted. Sometimes I will take a drive, yes an hour away for fries and honey just to get her out of her room and the house. Today we got to enjoy the company of him, who doesn’t mind us too much either.
The Chicken Lady