Once again I’ve been honored with the request to write & contribute a story for an upcoming book. Once again I’m sharing a sneak peak of my story with you.
Please be sure to sign up for The Loop so that you’ll know when the book is available in it’s entirety.
Now, settle in and let me tell you a bit about the conditions of unconditional love.
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The Conditions Of Unconditional Love
By: Lynette Louise, The Brain Broad
My son had to stay home today because he smelled like poo.
My granddaughter was in the back seat, the car was already running. He lumbered into the passenger seat and the air at my nostrils turned fowl. My grandson was standing at the car to see us off. We were headed to Anime Expo and he was joking about our car and its missing back window. I turned to my son and said, “You smell like poo.” “Yes I do.” He answered. “Good thing my brother broke the back window.” My grandson waved his hand in front of his face and explained, “Phew, ventilation.” Then he laughed at the way my son had agreed with me, “Yes I do smell.”
It was a fairly atypical, but used to be typical, moment for our family.
Poo problems, for the most part, have become a thing of the past.
I wanted to bring him, clean him up and take him anyway. There are so few places that accept and love my son and, as I said, we were on our way to Anime Expo. The annual July forth celebration of Anime Cosplayers all gathered in the LA Convention Center created a world of special circumstance and acceptance. In this environment, he becomes one of the most normal people in the crowd. It is a rare event for him. And I imagine it is a great relief to not be the spectacle for a change. We had already spent twelve hours there the day before. He had been happy and calm the entire day. Normally, crowds have a different effect on him. Normally, they make him anxious and antisocial. But Anime crowds make him comfortable and social, and I suspect he likes that. I know I do. My grand daughter was asking us to hurry up and so I started the car in order to present the assurance of action. I suppose that is why he had been rushing to get out of the bathroom. Perhaps he was worried we would leave without him.
My son is a multiply handicapped severely autistic person. I wanted to bring him so that he could have this rare pleasure for yet another day. But I couldn’t because he smelled like poo and we had to leave. He is thirty-four.
I love my son. I love him enough to say no, you can’t come, you didn’t wipe. And love him enough to actually leave. I love him enough to do this even though I know he will mess the house and eat all the food in defiance. I love him enough to be trustworthy and stick to the rules and consequences he has heard me express. I love him enough to do this even though I knew his nephews had plans and would likely spend very little time with him. I love him enough to leave him alone. In fact, I love him unconditionally.
I remember a similar, yet different, circumstance years ago when one of my other adopted special needs children (I raised eight children, adopted six and five were challenged) broke the rules; only this occasion, this memory, was more about pee than poo.
This son- a teenager at the time- had voided his bladder in full view of all the campers and their children. He had raised some undesired attention and nearly got us kicked out of the resort. The man I was dating at the time wanted to take us all for dinner and so my son was in a hurry to relieve himself before getting in the car. I told my youngest, my person with the peeing problem, that he couldn’t come. I explained that he had inappropriately peed and so he was not trustworthy enough to come for dinner as I would have to be afraid of his need to relieve himself. He screamed and begged and slapped himself in the head. My date requested I bring him along, “Ease up on the kid. He can’t learn this stuff.” What an astronomically assumptive statement. I suspect he simply wanted to stop all the ruckus, so much so that it was easier to not believe in my son than to believe in him. I suppose dealing with the circumstance of this unexpected urination was more than he had counted on when he asked us to dinner. I chose to teach my son. He chose to eat quickly and run. I was ok with that.
In fact, I didn’t mind at all. You see I loved him (my son, not my date). I loved him enough to say no, to leave him behind, to not bribe him with the promise of bringing back a treat. I loved him enough to leave him out of the family fun even though I knew he would get even with me by breaking the mirrors and scratching 1985 into all the woodwork. I chose to teach him about this and then when I got home I would teach him about that. Mirrors and woodwork, those are just things, he is my child.
I loved him enough to let him learn. In fact I loved him unconditionally.
Dealing with pee and poo and boogers and spontaneous erections with clear explanations, expectations and constant love is the job of the parent of a special needs boy child. I had several.
In general people wanted me to prioritize differently than I did. In general this was because it was inconvenient for them when I stood my ground and loved my children enough to say no. But that was okay because, in general, people were inconvenient for me. After all, I was busy. I was raising my children. You see, I knew my children could improve. I knew they could learn to be independent and had no intention of raising them into group homes and institutions. I also knew them becoming independent and successful in life would take an absolute commitment on my part, with no room for doubt.
And so I didn’t, doubt. I just taught, with love and commitment.
And they did improve and they did become independent and people were inconvenienced along the way. But that was okay because I knew there would always more people, more dates, more neighbors. Not so much more children. So I stayed the course of unconditionally loving them and they learned, and they grew and they moved out of the house.
Well… most of them.
Not so much my thirty-four year old.
I told him to go back into the house. Made sure he cleaned himself and explained that he had had two choices. One was to ask for my help and the other was to do it right in the first place. However, he hadn’t done either of these and so I told him he couldn’t come to the event.
He looked at the floor. His energy dropped. He seemed sad, heavy. He mumbled something. I asked him to say it again more clearly. He didn’t. Life with a special needs man seldom includes the Hollywood moment. Most interchanges are lack luster at best. So he didn’t repeat it and I have no turn about phrase or learning to share. It was just another moment in the life of continuing to raise my son.
You see, when you believe in learning there is no aging out. He is my child. I will raise him, until I don’t, even if it inconveniences you.
I love him. He is my best friend. It was time to go. And so I left.