Several months ago, during a car ride home from school, Hunter informed me that my opinion didn’t matter to him. This shouldn’t come as a shock to me. He pretty much says that through his actions each and every day. After all, he is a teenager who also has Asperger’s Syndrome. He tells me what he is thinking, no matter what! Those words shouldn’t have surprised me, but they did. I should no longer be hurt by his stinging words, but I was. I held it together while we were in the car. When we got home, I went into my bathroom and cried. It felt like he had physically punched me in the gut.
I know I have many years left of him thinking I’m pretty darned stupid. I know that as long as I’m telling him what to do and not do, I will be labeled the “Worst Parent on the Face of the Earth” by him. He tells me that constantly. This was different. When he said my opinion didn’t matter to him, I heard that I didn’t matter to him. I heard that nothing I have taught him had stuck. I heard that I wasn’t important to him. I can handle him being pissed off at me for being his parent. However, I couldn’t imagine not meaning anything in the fabric of his life.
Then, a few weeks ago, he had his first real school dance. He had been to another dance, but it was a fun dance for groups of friends. This was different. Many of his friends had invited girls to this dance. He had not invited anyone as his “date“, but I could tell he was feeling extra pressure to fit in and be one of the guys.
The theme of the dance was “Hollywood“. The students were supposed to dress like they were on a red carpet. I asked Hunter what he was going to wear, and he said sweats. Well, that wasn’t going to work. I told him we were going to have to do some shopping. He didn’t argue. My boy, who hates to shop with every square inch of his very tall body, did not argue! He said, “Okay, when are we going?” My car was already headed to the mall.
When we got to the store, he told me he wanted to wear a bow tie and jeans. I actually thought he would look very handsome and Hollywood-ish in that, so he picked out a bow tie and together we picked a shirt that would coordinate. He never once complained. He was actually excited.
That Friday night was his big “Hollywood Premiere”. He got dressed in his bow tie, coordinating shirt, jeans, Sperry-like shoes and, of course, coordinating socks (Hunter’s socks always have to coordinate…it’s his thing). He asked me to fix his hair to look nice, so I did. He actually asked me to fix his hair..what??? He looked extremely handsome. Of course, I had to embarrass him with a million pictures. I wouldn’t be fulfilling my role as “Worst Mother on the Face of the Earth.” if I didn’t. He just rolled his eyes at me. Then, as we were leaving the house to take him to the dance, something totally unexpected happened. He turned to me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Thanks Mom for helping me with my new outfit and fixing my hair.” I said, “You’re welcome buddy.” Then, I turned around as tears ran down my cheeks.
This role of parenting a teenager isn’t easy. I know I’m making lots of mistakes as I go along. I know there are many days Hunter doesn’t like me at all. This night also confirmed that he needs me at least in some small way. Even if he doesn’t realize it, my opinion really does matter, at least a little. I do have an influence in his life. Somewhere deep down, he might even think I’m kind of cool…well, that might be a stretch!
Co-published with permission. Original blog post can be found here.
About Rachelle Wade
Rachelle Wade a wife and mom raising two boys (one who has Asperger’s Syndrome). Sassy Aspie Mom is a Facebook Page and Blog that hopes to create an outreach to other moms going through trying times. Raising children on the spectrum can be exhausting and challenging! We have to take back our lives, so we can be warriors for our kids!