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The Personal Is The Political

I would have liked to join my fellow new patriots, watching this evening’s debates…but I have more pressing issues to attend to in my backyard. Or the neighbors’ backyard, rather. Going into this I knew the parenting gig would be no cake walk, but the unexpected “bonus” of caring for a special needs child, well, some days it’s enough to make me cry uncle. Growing up with an autistic first cousin may have given me more insight than some, but I don’t think it makes my job any easier. Unlike the typical child, who misbehaves now and then but can be reasoned with (on some level)…my son genuinely does not understand much of the time. He’s a sweet boy, but his comprehension just isn’t there yet, and he is sorely lacking self-preservation instincts. The basics, like looking out for cars before crossing a street, have yet to sink in. What he does have is a high pain tolerance, which only exacerbates the problem. I am even more leery of his time spent playing with other children. Is he going to get hurt, or inadvertently hurt others? This afternoon was a nerve-wracking example. He was out back, and had been encouraged to climb up into the neighbors’ tree, as some other kids were doing. At first I thought we’d be safe because he wouldn’t be able to do it. But he was determined. Eventually he launched himself up there, and I had my camera at the ready to document the moment. He told me he loved sitting in the tree. But then I started getting nervous. He didn’t seem to have a good handle on the whole balance thing. And there were three kids, vying for the best position and starting to get pushy. And the tree is on a rather steep grade, with dangerous debris strewn around it. And another older and rougher kid came over to cavort about, encouraging more dangerous behavior…like swinging from the branches Tarzan-style. So I pulled the little man out of there, much to his dismay. My heart gets broken over and over again…when I have to step in to stop him from getting hurt, and he just doesn’t get it. He thinks I am being inconsistent, arbitrary and cruel. And we both end up crying.

sitting in a tree, sans kissing