Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.- K. Gibran, The Prophet
I have this phrase memorized. (I thank Sweet Honey in the Rock for that.) Over and over, my son has taught me the truth of this.
When I try to predict his behavior, he surprises me again and again. I don't know what he's thinking. I can't even pretend. His brain works on a completely different wavelength. That was true before we had the Asperger's diagnosis. It's been true since he was a baby.
And so, there we were, in church this Sunday. I was sitting, patiently listening to my pastor. He was sitting, and then turning, and then sitting, and then sprawled out over the pew, reading a book. And then he put the book on the pew while he knelt on the floor (not for any religious reason - it was probably just comfortable.) He squirmed and wriggled. But he was there with me, and we were together in the church to which I'd belonged for over a decade. And it was comforting, having him there, even though it might not have looked comfortable to anyone watching.
Sure, there are times when I wish he'd adhere more closely to acceptable public behavior. But he wasn't hurting anybody. He wasn't even bothering anybody. He was just being ... different.
Different is fine. Different is not bad. Different is just ... different.
There are times when I see what he's doing and I expect him to think my thoughts. I think to myself, "doesn't he see that this isn't the way people behave in a store?" (Or a church, or a school room, or whatever.) But often, the right answer is ... who cares? So he's a little rambunctious. So he likes counting the stacks of canned vegetables, or he likes rearranging the chocolate bars according to the pattern he prefers? So what if he prefers the taste of frozen vegetables (and I mean frozen as in unthawed, just out of the freezer) to cooked? He isn't hurting anyone. It's hard to discipline someone for different. I never want to punish him just for that.
My sense of normal is not his. He has his own sense of where the line has to be drawn. And so I have to rearrange the way I respond to him. He is not me. He inherited many things from me, but not my brain. He has his own will, his own thoughts, his own heart. He is my child, but he has never belonged to me.