Well, this morning Guilt plopped her uninvited butt at my kitchen table, which by the way was still covered with the remnants of all the last minute school supplies I was shoving into backpacks while the kids were screaming, "I'm going to miss the bus!", to creep into my conscience about the discussion I had last night, and then again this morning with Ryan, my now official middle schooler. Middle School, THE end of childhood and the beginning of hell. Don't worry, I didn't tell Ryan that the middle school doors are actually the threshold of hell. I didn't want to scare him for goodness sake because I most certainly wanted that child to get on the bus so I could save myself $50 shopping without him at Wegmans, but I'm afraid with the mixed messages I gave him, hell may have sounded like a better option to him. Middle school is tough for a lot of kids, but when you throw in a touch of autism, well, let's just say, it's a whole different ball game....in hell.
Mixed messages for sure. Of course I love Ryan and believe he is perfect just the way he is, but middle school kids may not think that and leaving Ryan alone and vulnerable in the cafeteria, almost makes me puke my granola. Unless you were able to block out your middle school years through hypnosis, we all remember what it was like. Of course it wasn't all bad, but if one person made fun of you for wearing Jordache jeans and carrying a purse, well, you just tend to remember (I hope "she" reads this blog and feels badly about the obvious damage "she" caused me). Trying to fit in when you care is difficult, trying not to stand out when you don't give a shnikie (Ryan's substitute word for sh**), can be even harder....at least for mom.
As I sit here waiting and worrying for the bus to return my boy to me, Guilt has decided to stay for both lunch and dinner. I fear Guilt may make a permanent residence on the basement couch during these scary middle school years. Ryan's biggest concern for middle school is how hard the schoolwork will be, not who he will sit by at lunch with his plain lunchbox ("Mario lunchboxes are for elementary students"....sigh, more guilt) packed with a cheese sandwich cut in triangles EVERY single day, or if bullies on the school bus will make fun of his no longer in style, short socks even though their high socks look like they belong in a nursing home. The line between Ryan being himself and not being "too different", which could make him a bulls eye target of bullying, is very fine. Even as Ryan's mother, I have a hard time walking it.
Now that Ryan is a big kid, there are some adjustments he must make. Ryan should no longer use his tongue as a tissue for his runny nose, nor should Ryan use his fingers to pick his dried nose. Ryan must learn to adjust his sticking to him "stuff" in private, or at the very least, through his pockets, even though we have all witnessed many grown men do this regardless of their age or location (having different "stuff", I try not to judge too harshly). And although Ryan cares little about that "fine line", he will have to walk it by learning what is socially acceptable without compromising who he is in the face of bullies.
The most important thing for Ryan to learn and one day understand, is that his mother, who tries so hard to protect him, love him and do right by him, will continue to screw up....a lot, and regardless of how much his mother has learned over the years, Guilt, Denial and Clueless will still occasionally stop by for a quick bite. I just pray that any damage I do, can be undone or at the very least, forgiven with some "I will try harder" warm chocolate chip cookies (from a bag, sorry, but I don't think I did enough damage today, or any day for that matter, to actually bake from scratch) that are baking in the oven now. And even though I know Guilt will still be here when Ryan comes walking through that front door this afternoon, happily moaning at the smell of melting chocolate, Guilt isn't touching my boy's chocolate chip cookies. Guilt, my friends, has already taken enough today.