This post was inspired by Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison. Parenting is a challenging job, but what challenges does a parent with Asperger's face? Join From Left to Write on March 12 as we discuss Raising Cubby. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
This book arrived on my doorstep in what I can only describe as a divine moment of timing. I had just started getting over one of my periodic fits of frustration with my oldest son, who does not have Asperger's Syndrome, but who clearly exhibits several of the classic behaviors. He struggles mightily to just go with the flow that the most of the rest of us seem to find naturally, without much effort or thinking.
He is disorganized at school and is a regular in the detentions that are supposed to be a deterrent for forgetting to do and/or turn in homework in a timely manner. He is easily distracted and can often be found gazing out the window or playing imaginary games in his head, using the eraser of his pencil as the main character. Sometimes, when he gets overwhelmed by the noise and activity level at school, he prefers the company of his imaginary world and its inhabitants to the here and now. He can go on at length about the TV shows and video games he is particularly enamored of, and can give a mini dissertation on them, not really grasping that you don't find it every bit as riveting as he does.
The day I got this book, I had sent a semi-desperate email to Moe's teacher, principal, tutor and school psychologist, asking for help, and I was working on scheduling a meeting with all of them to discuss getting Moe tested for learning disabilities. It pains me to say it, but my kid really needed something he just wasn't getting. I have no interest in hanging a label, but if I don't know what he's dealing with, I can't help him or give him any effective tools to cope with the challenges he faces. My good friend, who is a teacher herself, gets angry when I say I think something is wrong....it's not that I think he is defective somehow, or broken. But I know, in my heart, that he's different, that he does not and will not fit into any predetermined boxes, and he operates on a whole separate level than most of the rest of the world. The world in which he must learn to operate and function.
I enjoyed reading this book. I found myself nodding in agreement and understanding in several places, and laughing out loud in others. I get the author's style of writing and his sense of humor, at least I think I do. I get his thought process.
I especially got a kick out of, and enjoyed his nicknames for his wife and his son, and even their cat. I have nicknames for Captain America and Moe, Larry and Curly (other than those!) that probably not many people would understand. In fact, I might be a little embarrassed trying to explain my little pet names for my people. But to them, and to me, those names are special....those little pet names communicate an awful lot more than just whose attention I am trying to get. They speak to the special bond between me and each member of my family. Some are sentimental and some are silly, and they are all uniquely ours.
I will share one of them, though, because I think it's particularly funny. And it will be funny for me to call my youngest child this name on his wedding day. Curly is a funny, silly kid, a performer, someone who loves to laugh and make people laugh. I call him Monkeyface, and he responds without hesitation. My other man-cubs get offended if I try to call them Monkeyface, but Curly...I think he likes it.
Do you have special nicknames or pet names for your family or for your kids?