I must admit that at this point all sorts of worrisome images rapidly flashed through my mind. I quelled and quieted them, sighed, and then calmly hailed back: “What?!? Come and show me?”
H bounded into the dining-room, “Look… I am turning greee-een!” announced my smirking boy… proudly presenting his shoulder.
“Silly – that is just a bruise.” I smirked back with an eyebrow raised in what I imagine to be one of my better Spock impersonations. H pointed to one of a number of marks on his upper arms. “Let me smooch it for you,” I suggested, swooping in with my magic mom healing kiss. I had a closer inspection of H’s mosquito-bitten and somewhat bruised arms and legs and jokingly ventured, “What happened at camp?!? Looks like someone beat you up…”
“No – really? I was just kinda kidding…”
“So was I – but we were ‘sleeping bag wrestling’...”
“Huh?!?“… I had to hear more!
At this point H started pogo jumping around the living-room to demonstrate… “Ya- we wrestled in our sleeping bags…” His arms were held up in front of him, kind of like a giant hamster eating a seed – or maybe a praying mantis, so that I could envision him holding sleeping bag up around him.
He was laughing and pretending to crush the invisible someone on the couch… “We were jumping on each other.” At this point he was getting out of breath, further demonstrating the upright-body-slam within a virtual sleeping bag… now onto the arm chair…
Oh my! I could see it… like a sack race… only slightly padded and full contact!
With a tone of amusement- mixed with disbelief – I braved the query, “Well… did anyone get hurt?”
“Ya, we all got a little bit hurt… but no one cried,” H stated matter-of-factly.
“I’ve never heard of sleeping-bag wrestling before...” I responded in my most nonjudgmental and curious tone. I didn’t want to shut down conversation by over-engaging my mom sensibilities.
Ahhhhh, I smiled to myself, sometimes boys are confusing! I suspect that there is a line of sorts, where the autism leaves off and the typical boy stuff starts, but for me it is blurred and difficult to define. Some of what we are working to support and develop are the parts of my boy that are the way they are because his mind works differently… and some of it is just plain old typical 12-year-old. Unfortunately, I don’t really get it: I had no brothers, and I only have one boy. I sometimes don’t understand what is appropriate or typical development for boys and so I am definitely on foreign territory with this child of mine who is navigating the world with the added challenge of being on the autism spectrum. I am often confused by my inability to detect where the boundary is between these – but honestly, I think it is pretty delightful when I can’t tell the difference. It’s another reminder that it is sometimes OK to just back off and “let boys be boys“. ___________________________________________________
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2011)