Over the weekend, when the boy, hubby and I spent the night in New Concord, Ohio, the boy not only failed to shave before we left, he inexplicably forgot his toiletry bag–which houses a seldom used electric razor. Wanting him to make the best impression possible, my husband went into the hotel store, the morning of the test and purchased a small can of shaving cream and a razor. “I can’t shave my face,” The boy decreed. “Sure you can, it’s easy…” My husband said as he squirted a small amount of shaving cream into the boy’s hand and instructed him to lather up his lower face. “I don’t like what I’m doing…” The boy announced. “Bay, for the love of God, really? This is a rite of passage dude,” I said, hoping to get him more in the mood to shave. “Mom, I don’t trust my shaky hands to not cut my face,” He replied. “Hold still…” His father said, frustrated, while grabbing the razor and attempting to shave the boy’s face. “I’m not sure if I’m going with the grain or not…”His father said, while drawing the razor across his face. “Dad…” The boy tried to object but fell silent, fearing his father would inflict real harm upon him. A few minutes later, after much griping from both sides, they emerged from the bathroom. “What do you think?” His father asked me. Running my hand across his freshly shaven face I replied, “There is my handsome boy…” Looking down, the boy replied, “I beg to differ and it’s my face, so…” Shaking his head back and forth his father replied, “Why do kids always think they no better than their parents when obviously they do not?””Nature of the beast,” I offered, before we gathered our luggage together on our way out the door.
One of the universities the boy is interested in attending held a scholarship testing day on Saturday, in which they asked him four logic questions before a brief interview and then held informational sessions for specific courses of study. “There is nothing here that can hurt you today…” The head of admissions announced to the crowd, “Only things to help you,” She added hoping to put the kids at ease. Tell me, do you all know what a smart boat is?” She asked and we all sat silent. After a beat she said, “It’s a Scholarship!” which made us all groan, then chuckle, before they got down to business and administered the exam to the students. Due to his recent autism evaluation, the boy qualified for additional time given and was escorted to another room to take the exam. Meanwhile, us parents were led away to another area, where the admissions head and the dean of students discussed the test and answered any questions parents had.
After the fifty-five minutes were up, we all came back to the auditorium, before splitting up by major to listen to the department heads discuss what the future degree looked like. The only problem being, the boy was no where to be found. Approaching our student contact I asked, “Where’s the boy?” “He’s still taking the exam,” She replied. “Grrrr” my husband said adding, “I’m not an advocate of the extra time. He’s going to overthink all the answers instead of getting to the point.” About twenty minutes later, the boy entered the classroom, after finally finishing the test. “Bay what took so long?” I asked. “I thought what the heck, take your time, do my best. Turns out I was the last person done.” He replied.
After a brief lunch, the boy left to interview with a department head, while the hub and I waited his return. We struck up conversations with other parents, wondering where their children were looking and how far away from the school they lived. Turns out many of them were interested in the same school choices as my son. I laughed saying, “Who knows, we may meet again in a few weeks on a different campus,” while the other parents nodded in agreement.
Because the boy is also interested in journalism and theater, we were invited to listen to a presentation on the theater department as well as given a tour of the radio and television station located on campus. Afterward, as we approached our car, the boy remarked, “Before I come back to school here, I’m going to need better traction on my tennis shoes,” Which made his father and I take notice, encouraged by his optimism but guarded just the same.
The boy did not make the top five in the Super Fellow contest, which would have ensured his need to attend the Sadie Hawkins dance next weekend, but he didn’t seem too disappointed. “Are you upset?” I asked with true sincerity. “Not really…” He replied. “Well, I mean you bragged to me how you campaigned all day yesterday…” I returned. Thinking for a moment, he responded, “I had fun talking with everyone so that in itself was a win and now, even better, I don’t have to go to that dance. Double wins!!” He said with a laugh. “I guess ‘A’ got smart this year and asked someone else this year?” I wondered. “I have no idea…” He replied, then mutually we allowed our end of the conversation to drop. Changing subjects, I began my interrogation of his sister. “What about you doll, are you going to the dance?” I asked. “No. If the boy had been nominated I would have gone in support of him, but since he didn’t…” She said. “What there’s no boy you would like to…” “NO” she said loudly; interrupting me, while I smiled in return. What about your friends, are they going?” “Um, I’m not sure…” She replied and then changed the subject to something else.
“Mom there was a girl from my class who got kicked out of school!” Did you know her?” I asked. “No, but she was in many of Allie’s classes and every time she saw me with her, she glared at me…” “What does that mean?” I asked, but was summarily ignored, “She was thrown out for threatening a teacher. Apparently she has some mental issues, which only makes me more worried since she use to glare at me…” “Doll, if she’s no longer in school, that glare can’t hurt you. As for the rest, say a prayer for her and her parents. What an awful thing to happen to their child…” “Mom, can’t you stop being a mom for once and be on my side?” My daughter said causing my to pause for a moment before answering her, “Doll, I’m always on your side, however, if you should happen to become mental and get thrown out of school for threatening someone, I would hope that others would pray for you and me to find some help…” I replied. Realizing she was wrong, she said, “I know, you’re right…”
(Yes, I’m gloating–she said I was right–a rare occurrence indeed!)
The other day on our drive home, the boy, who enjoys listening to his own voice; decided to fill me in on a project he’s undertaking, “I’m writing a campaign for my buddy’s,” He said. “A campaign? For what?” I wondered. “A campaign for their D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) game…all you need is a good story and knowledge that they will never follow the script,” he said and then elaborated, “You see, I’ve got copious amounts of free time which will allow me to write a comprehensive adventure for them…” “During study hall?” I asked. “No, I actually do school work there, but after school there’s just crazy amounts of free time…” He added and smiled, happy with himself. “Really!” I replied, not letting on what I really thought.
Since then, his father and I have called him out on all that “free” time. “Bay why are you getting a C+ in Newspaper?” I asked. “Deadlines, I’m having a problem with deadlines,” he replied. “How can this be when you have COPIOUS amounts of free time?” I asked and was met with a frustrated groan. “Get the work done before anything else bay!” I commanded.
When I arrived home from work Tuesday evening, I found the boy seated on the floor removing carpet nails from our sub floors. “Hey, whatcha doing?” I asked him. “Dad has me pulling out these nails,” He said adding, “This is really cutting into my homework time”. “Homework? Isn’t that what your study hall is for oh but wait, who am I kidding, you have that copious free time you can use…” I added sarcastically.
“Mom, I think you’re adding more weight to that word than you should,” The boy said in reply. “But you’re the one who told me, ‘I have copious amount of free time’, so much free time that you can create these campaign thingy majigs for your buddies when they’re playing D&D…” I replied. “I just like saying the word ‘Copious’, I think it’s a cool word and in doing so I may have exaggerated how much free time I actually have…” He tried but I wasn’t budging. “If you’re not going to find a job to fill that ‘copious’ amount of time, then don’t be upset when you’re father and I find jobs for you…non paying jobs at that,” I added before walking out of the room chuckling to myself.
As one might imagine, the boy and his draining copious time, was not amused.
In 2013, the American Psychological Association declared Asperger’s was no longer a valid diagnosis, replacing it instead with High Functioning Austism Spectrum Disorder. With the boy preparing to go to college in the fall, we decided to have him re-evaluated, so the correct diagnosis would accompany him to school and he could qualify for any special programs they offer to help and assist students succeed. Over the last month, the boy met with two social workers who interviewed both the boy and myself, administered an IQ test to him and gave questionnaires to the boy, myself and the school to fill out and return. Yesterday, the boy and I were given his test results.
Without going into much detail, he was diagnosed as a 17 year old female, High Functioning Austism Spectrum Disorder. “Are there any questions?” The therapist asked. “Um, yes, why does this say I’m a female?” He asked and the therapist laughed. Frankly, I needed to take another look, having not noticed the mistake. “Well, that’s because someone made an error while filling out the paperwork. Here, let me go change that,” She said as she grabbed a pen and crossed out the “F” and then circling the “M” at the top of the paperwork. “Good, because I don’t want there to be any wondering if I’m transitioning from a girl to a boy or vice versa…” he said while we all smiled in amusement, before the therapist returned to explaining the report to us.
Once all the material had been disseminated, the therapist asked the boy, “What are you planning on studying in college?” “I’m thinking I’d like to be an English teacher….” “Really?” She said before adding, “What grades are you thinking?” “Um, High School…” He answered. “For some reason, I don’t see you teaching in the K-12 setting. You come across to me more as a college professor…” She said while I enthusiastically agreed, adding, “Ever since he was two years old, we’ve called him the little professor…” “I don’t know, high school sounds good to me,” The boy replied which prompted the therapist to reply, “Whichever brings you joy, professor Boy…” before wishing us well and escorting us out of the room.
When we arrived home, but before we exited the car, my Facebook prayer chain sent a notification to my phone. Quickly I picked up the phone off the car’s dashboard console and then replied with three “Praying Hands” emoji’s. Only seeing my phone from an angle, the boy asked, “Those are penises. Why are you putting penises on that screen?” Looking back at him oddly, I replied, “They’re praying hands…” and then lifted the phone for him to see the emoji’s better. “Oh, they looked like penises from this angle” He replied.
Upon closer examination…. if you blur your eyes just right and look at from an angle, the boy is correct! The emoji’s do resemble a male body part… that is, if you’re a boy.
Last Friday, when the kids climbed in the car to go home, the doll swatted her brother and said, “You didn’t tell me you were nominated for Super Fellow”. “Oh yeah, sorry,” He replied. Sitting in the front seat, I horned in on their conversation, “What? What happened?” I asked. “He was nominated to represent the Film Club,” the doll added. “Nominated for what?” I asked, wanting to pridefully enjoy her answer. “Super Fellow…I think it’s like Homecoming Queen, except for boys…” “Yeah, it’s something like that,” the boy began before explaining, “Mom, once they narrow down their choices, if I’m still in the running, I need to write an essay, then go to a dance I think”. “The winter dance?” I asked. “I think it’s the Sadie Hawkins dance again-which is casual, so that’s cool…” He replied. “Then you have to wait for a girl to ask you…don’t you?” I replied, adding, “Do you think A will ask you again, considering you’ve turned her down three years in a row?” “Eh, I think I’ll cross that bridge if I need to…” He replied.
Considering all the good things I’ve been hearing about his likability/popularity at school, here’s to hoping he needs to…
When the boy was in fourth grade, he got into trouble goofing around with a buddy at their lockers, instead of going into class when the bell rang. When asked by the attendance clerk why he was in trouble, he replied, “Because Mrs. Klear is a flaming shitball”. Nice. Now imagine the phone call I received from the school principal shortly thereafter. Needless to say, while I was embarrassed that he would say such a thing-about a teacher-out loud; I had a great story to “tell” others (a reverse sort of bragging), later that week when the Parents Association hosted a Lady’s Night Out event. While I made my rounds at the event, talking about the boy’s poor opinion of his teacher, I ran into a woman who said, “Oh I just heard about this from the school principal. You’re boy is quite the card…” “What?” I replied confused. “Yes she was telling us stories about the kids, but she seemed to enjoy talking about your son’s name calling the most…” I think I responded with an “Oh” and a nod and walked away, not at all happy to hear this. Looking back, I think what bothered me the most is that as the boy’s mother, I have the right to talk about his foibles and successes at my discretion. As a school principal, while she saw my son five days a week, that didn’t give her the right to talk about my kids’ foibles to others. Plain and simple, my “Momma Bear”attitude came out in force.
The reason I bring this old story up is because I’m disturbed by the accounts of people who seem fine making fun of President Trump’s (who did not receive my vote) ten year old son, Barron. Across social media I’ve read many examples of people speculating what life is like for Trump’s youngest child, even going so far as to poke fun/speculate about his appearance, his mannerisms, his home life. As a citizen, I’m appalled. As a mother, I’m pissed. Growing up is difficult enough, without the added burden of having celebrity-famous parents. I can’t imagine what life is like for this young man. I mean, how do you shield him from the criticisms or name calling, or constant drone of divisive rhetoric? How do you keep peers from bullying him, because their parents don’t like his policy or the way his administration is dealing with the press?
Moving forward, I hope some of our collective sensibilities returns soon. While I don’t care for Trump’s policies or his cabinet picks etc, that doesn’t give me the right to attack his young son, nor would I. Instead I’ll use my voice to be heard in other ways, for example, in two years when midterm elections arrive. In the meantime, my criticisms will be aimed squarely where they belong–at President Trump and his administration, not his young son.