"Normal"

This morning I spent a fair amount of time cleaning my son’s blood off of the inside of my car. It was spattered everywhere - the windows, the armrests, the glove compartment. He’s not dead, my son. He’s autistic. Or, he’s “on the autism spectrum.” The high-functioning end. That’s what they call it, high functioning. Because most of the time, he looks and acts quite normal. Or neurotypical. I guess that’s what I’m supposed to say, because “normal” then implies that anything outside of that is not normal. Abnormal. But I would say that a temper tantrum over being denied ice cream that results in a broken windshield and a cut hand and blood splattered all over the inside of your car is pretty fucking abnormal. Normal 12-year-olds do not go into a rage and smash shit and scream and flail and spatter blood everywhere when they’re upset, do they? I don’t know anymore. This is my first time raising a 12-year-old and it’s been so long since I was 12, I don’t really remember smashing anything. I remember anxiety - I remember convincing myself my mother had died in a car accident one night when my little brother and I were home alone and it seemed to take her an extra-long time to come home from her night job. I remember laying in bed, keening and rocking, absolutely 100% certain that she was dead, already mourning her, and then I heard the garage door going up (my room was right above the garage) and it was like a switch had been flipped. Oh. She’s alive. Okay. I can go to sleep now. So maybe some of that awesomeness has leaked through my genes into my son’s. Maybe I’m autistic, I don’t know. Maybe we all are in some ways. Or maybe that’s just what parents of autistic kids like to say. Maybe it makes us feel better to convince ourselves that everybody’s a little weird. All I know is, I keep getting in the car and seeing little spots of blood I’ve missed - on the rearview mirror, on the speedometer. I don’t want to keep cleaning it off, over and over, every day when I see a new spot I’ve missed. I want to just call it good and move on. But it seems weird and macabre to drive around with your son’s blood spatters all over the place. I’m not sure other people would understand.

 

Richmond, VA