Dinner at the Vegan Bistro

We just got back from a belated birthday dinner at a new vegan restaurant I have been wanting to try, just me and my Aspie, as guests of a family friend. My Aspie was in his element, doing something he loves with me and a friend who has a special connection with him. It occurred to me, our life is not heavy all the time – just when I am trying to make him conform.

I watched him from across the table – we two adults sat together on one side of the table while the man-child sat on the other side. As we read the menus, he asked, “Is it weird that I’m a kid and I already know what all these wines taste like?” He knows from watching the Food Network and from tasting food cooked with wine. He has told me that he has already decided he will never try alcohol, thinking it’s a bad idea to mix with his meds.

Our friend said, “No, it’s not weird. In many cultures where people drink more wine, kids grow up knowing what wines taste like.” That started a discussion of traveling, living abroad, drinking local water or not, bacteria in the gut, the immune system, and other fun dinnertime topics.

My Aspie repeatedly offered me a sample of his cornmeal-crusted oyster mushrooms, and I repeatedly declined politely. Finally I said, somewhat perplexed, I didn’t understand why he kept offering me oyster mushrooms when he knows I am allergic to shellfish. He and our friend erupted in laughter and he explained, they are only called oyster mushrooms, there is no oyster, only mushrooms. I was mesmerized by his gestures, gentle and graceful, as he described the shape to explain why they are called oyster mushrooms.

Our friend asked about school, and my Aspie told us that his class started a unit on Byzantium and he already knew all the facts. I asked when he had learned about it, and he told me that last year, in a different school, his classmate A “liked”  – had a typically Aspergian deep interest and knowledge of a narrow subject – Roman history, and so my Aspie learned what he could on his own about Rome and Byzantium so he could talk with A about his preferred topic. He related this in such a matter-of-fact manner that gushing about what a great friend he is seemed out of place, so I didn’t, though I thought it.  Imagine, setting out to learn some world history just to be able to talk to a friend, and then actually being able to do it.

I feel very blessed that he is such a brilliant and caring individual, yet I could not help thinking, even as half my mind was engaged in the spoken conversation, what in the world is there to grow up to do for a child like this? I know part of my anxiety stems from the fear born of ignorance. I have no idea what is out there for him.

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October 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Would you like bipolar with that?

Most blogs I have read start out with an intelligent post introducing the author as a person with something to say.  I  can’t think of anything except various things that would embarrass my children and/or suggest that I am a grown woman somehow stuck with the sense of humor of an adolescent boy, which comes out when I am feeling stressed.  Which is all the time.

One day hanging out with my Aspie, somehow we got to saying whatever we needed to say with “ass” worked in, in a highly exaggerated manner.  If I were speaking ass right now, I would say, “my Aaaaassssspie.”  In fact, I think the first incidence may have occurred with the word “Asperger’s.”  That would be, Aaaaaasssssperger’s.  I can’t even remember to quote for you, but there were many, many hilarious things to say with aaaaaasssss in them.

We were watching the Sandwich King.  One of the most fun of the many Food Network series we have watched was the most recent competition for the Next Food Network Star, producing its new star, Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King.  I was watching his show with my Aspie, and I was wondering, if my life were a sandwich, would the bipolar be a part of the sandwich, or would I just be in an Asperger’s sandwich with a side of bipolar? I don’t know why that is so important to me to figure out, but I keep thinking about it.  I had been thinking about Asperger’s sandwich with a side of bipolar for a long time, but watching the Sandwich King was the first time I thought about it all being in the sandwich, all layered together, and every day is another bite.

My dad had Asperger’s, my mom was bipolar, and my growing up years were chaotic.  I was confused all the time.  Luckily, I had older sisters to help me, at least until they went away one by one, to college and to get married.  After I grew up, I was still confused but managed to stay busy for a couple of decades, and thought I was having a pretty normal life, at last.  I married and had my own family — I had a career, I was a wife, and the mom of a beautiful, sweet daughter.  I wish I had been able to slow down and enjoy life and especially enjoy being with my daughter then, instead of having been so high strung and driven to do something meaningful with my life.  She was so undemanding and easy going, much like my husband.  How I wish I could go back and really enjoy the days we had together, when among my biggest concerns were what to wear and how to do our hair, since everything else came so easily to our family.

Our son was born, and after years of trying to figure out how to be the best mom I could be so that he too could have a normal life, I learned that me being not just the best mom I could be but even being the best mom who ever lived would never give him what I thought of as a normal life.  Our son, who reminded me so very much of my dad, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.  Then my son went to middle school, without an IEP, and after numerous school-stress-induced hospitalizations, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  By now, he was a teenager and began to remind me so very much of my mom as well.

It took a while to sink in, and when it finally did sink in, it was like a bell rang deep inside me, like there was a buoy in there, floating inside me, with a bell that had been just waiting to ring and ring and ring.  I had thought I was sailing away, away from the craziness, and I did.  High school graduation, college graduation, grad school, career, marriage, my own family, my own structure and rules, all took me far away from the craziness.  I set sail and I sailed so far that I went around the world.  It took decades, but there I was, back again, at the same buoy.  Riiiiiing, riiiiiing, riiiiiing.  I could never really get away, because the bell was in me.  It was in me, and I passed it on to my son.  Aaaaaaassssk not for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for me.

October 5, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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