So I was talking about my laissez faire thing in the previous blog post. Actually the reason I started writing about that was Max. But suddenly the Natlove came pouring out of my fingers, so I had to let it run.
But the Maxielove. Well, that is just as powerful and just as unknown a subject. Strange how so many of us think of autistics as "mysteries" but when you think about your teenagers, any teenagers, there is a lot of mystery there, too. Max just smiles at me and his eyes are the same as his baby eyes, but there is this all-knowing, all-accepting expression. There always has been. He is an old soul. Even when he was a toddler, when one of his little friends would take a toy from him, he would turn to me with that same expression, that asked, "Why do they do that?" but also, "Oh well, it's just a toy. Don't worry, Mommy."
How I worried about him! Would he ever assert himself? Was he okay being like this? He was so gentle, so passive. Was he sad on the inside, repressed? Or was he just a totally different kind of being from me?
See what I mean? Mysteries, all of them.
Anyway, Max. So I noticed the other day that he and Hannah were just kind of napping on his bed. Hmm. I let it go, but I told Ned. "The two of them are sleeping!"
So then the next time she was here, it happened again. Curled up together like kittens. So I asked Max, "What's with the sleeping so much?"
He shrugged and smiled. "I don't know. It's so comfortable!"
"But -- are you tired? Are you getting enough sleep? You're probably throwing off your sleep cycle! I should know! I nap every day. But I'm old!"
He just gazed at me. Those eyes.
So then I talked to him about it. "I don't know, Maxie, I just feel -- weird. It's just -- if I were to ask any of my adult friends about it, they'd all kind of be -- hmmmmm. It's hard to understand why you're just kind of sleeping like that. I know there's no real harm in it, I just -- I don't know." I kept faltering like that, trying to figure out what I meant, while he just listened.
The next day he said, out of the blue, "So does it really bother you, the napping?"
I tried again to explain it.
Then he came home without Hannah yesterday. "Hey," I said. "Did she not come over because of the napping thing, what I said?"
Max shrugged, smiled. "Kind of."
Still smiling, he said, "She'll be back. You know Hannah." Despite all of the uncertainty I was feeling, there was this well of pride I felt for this boy, who could be so gently certain of himself and of his loved ones. So sure that life was okay, nothing to worry about, just like when he was a baby.
And then a picture of Linus flashed into my head. Linus, with his blue blankie, had always reminded me of Maxie. Then I remembered: Linus used to pat birds on the head. He and the birds were so happy with it, too. Then one day, Lucy yelled at him for patting the birds. "No one pats birds on the head!" she yelled, shaming him. The last frame is of Linus looking down at the birds and all of them look so sad.
So I called Max while he was walking to school. I told him the Peanuts story. "You know," I said. "I don't want to be like Lucy." He gave that dry laugh. "I mean, there's nothing really wrong with you guys napping like that. It's just that -- like the bird-patting -- it's not something other kids really do. You know? So tell Hannah."