Lemons, Lemonade, Parenting, and Autism

Today started great.

The boy has decided that he wants to join the fourth grade chorus. He likes to sing. Perfect.

Well, a little nerve-wracking, to be honest. He’s ‘high-functioning’ Autistic. Not Asperger’s Syndrome. Or, maybe now he’d have that diagnosis, but I don’t even know if that exists anymore with the DSM V. Of course, with the DSM V, his current diagnosis of PDD-NOS wouldn’t apply anymore either. Whatever.

He’s on what was once called the Autism Spectrum, which most people have heard of and are at least a little familiar with.

Anyway, we’re excited about chorus, because the boy likes to sing. He wants to be in chorus. We’re apprehensive, because the last time he did any sort of singing concert, he had to be removed in the middle of the performance because he was climbing under the platforms and grabbing other kids’ legs.

He had to catch the early bus this morning, because chorus practice happens before school. And everything went perfectly smooth. Until….

We don’t know yet if it was good luck or bad luck. The boy went outside to wait for the bus a good twenty minutes before the bus was supposed to come. I was exercising and my husband was getting ready for work.

The boy had already been outside for a while, and my husband was about to step outside and send the boy off. My husband came into the room where I was and looked at the clock. It said 7:44. The bus was supposed to come at 7:25. But we were both sure it wasn’t yet so late.

“That’s not right, is it?” he said.

“Must be fast,” I said.

He checked his phone.

“No, it’s right.”

Moments later, we realized the implication. What if the boy missed the bus? We checked the clock downstairs that we’d been using. It was ridiculously slow. It said 7:25.

So where was the boy? My husband went outside. The boy was nowhere to be found.

“Maybe he got on the bus,” my husband suggested.

My first thought, naturally, was ‘What if he didn’t get on the bus? Where is he?’

This is the moment when one feels like the worst parent ever.

I was about to escalate into full-scale worry when my husband’s phone rang. It was the school. The boy was there, and in tears. He had gotten on the bus (thank goodness!), but was deeply upset that he didn’t get to say goodbye to us.

Five minutes of talking to a sobbing boy over the phone seemed to calm him down. “You did the right thing,” we said. “You were supposed to get on the bus. Sometimes people have to do things that scare and upset them because they are the right thing to do.”

Crisis averted, maybe? Maybe he’s learned a valuable lesson. We can only hope.

His teacher said our words calmed him down, but his day wound up not being stellar. I guess we’ll see how it goes next time the early bus comes to take him to chorus.

Hopefully by then, his father and I won’t feel so much like the world’s worst parents either.

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