I roused from delicious slumber to a bumble bee throwing a party inside my ear. Will and eyelids refused to synchronise as I groped to slay the offending creature.
‘What?’ I growled into my cell phone.
‘Diane, is Dan with you?’
‘It’s midnight Tommy. Isn’t he with you?’
‘He’s packed his bag and gone.’ Tommy did not panic easily. ‘You know what he’s like Di, I asked him to wait five minutes, that’s all. Peter needed his meds.’
I knew the scenario well. When Dan’s obsession is in full flight, the world around him dematerialises. His focus remains rigid, disabling any attempt to thwart or side-track. Such bravery can detonate a purple faced frenzy, bordering on meltdown of epic proportion.
‘I’ve informed the police Di. I couldn’t leave the house unattended.’
I remained calm. Dan is a survivor. He is danger aware and can cross roads safely. He has an inbuilt compass and could find his way through the wilderness.
But people? He doesn’t get them! He is gullible and easy to fleece. He is vulnerable and in need of protection.
Shortly before moving into Supported Living, he slipped out of our home in the early hours, unknown to us, his parents, to wait by the dual carriageway for a complete stranger who’d promised to indulge his passion for Eddie Stobart trucks.
Always be thankful for interfering neighbours!
Tommy rang back. ‘The police helicopter is out.’ Now his voice was shaky. He didn’t yet know Dan, like I did.
I curled up in a blanket to wait - and think.
Thirty five years had passed since my firstborn speed-morphed me from a blithe young wife, into a twitching wreck. Motherly instinct following birth proved correct. And so began our quirky traverse through the unconventional minefield that is undiagnosed Autism/Asperger’s, whilst clinging with precarious, white knuckle grip onto sanity.
Another neighbour kindly allowed Dan to collect moulted feathers from his aviary. ‘Here again Dan?’ He teased. ‘It’s time you moved in.’ Next morning Dan arrived with his overstuffed holdall and two crates of books.
Flippant comments plus Asperger’s; bad mix! The wicked witch had to step in, again.
Little boys have an annoying habit of growing big. The muscle power becomes lopsided in favour of the opposition.
‘Let him grow up,’ advise those casual observers who dwell only in the mundane world of ‘normality.’ Teaching kids to drive? Graduation ceremonies? Nah. Not everyone’s thing. We’re more focused on tip-toeing around trigger points, like uttering the word ‘bye’ when leaving, or putting carrots next to peas on a plate.
Tommy rang two hours later. ‘They found him.’ His relief was palpable. ‘The infra-red detected something and they contacted the patrol car.’
‘In the fields, by the rail track – reading, by torch light.’
‘Yes. He’d packed eight cans of Pepsi, two jumbo Toblerone and his logbook.’
So, he’d set out for a spot of Ornithology. Sounds about right. My son is resourceful; but never remorseful. It would not occur to him that Tommy, being responsible for his safety, could be disciplined for neglect; or that I would be in a flat spin. Those issues are out of his realm of perception.
The rail track posed minimal threat, likewise the blackness of the cold autumn night. If food rations ran out he would simply go hungry. All that mattered was that he spotted a night jar, or an owl or a bat, to add to his expansive list of ‘sightings.’
I often hear, ‘You must be at your wit’s end.’ A witless comment, as they curled up and died years ago when we added a second little ‘Aspie’ to our family.
In time, I picked them up and dusted them off. Fully regenerated, I made a smart decision.
I began to chat with the Maker of our offbeat offspring. I wondered if He had an ‘Unusual Children Manual’ I could borrow. He told me His regular book would suffice, if I spent more time in it.
I did, and now realise that God is, and was always, in full control. They’re His children. He knows them far better than I do, because He made them. I’m privileged. He trusted me, to love and take care of them.
In turn, I trust Him completely. God doesn’t make mistakes.
Excessive worry is excellent for causing migraine, ulcer and stroke. It has no beneficial effect whatsoever. Whenever wit wobblies threaten, I remember just WHO is in charge.
He, who said ‘COME UNTO ME.’*
*Matthew 11: 28-29 (KJV)
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