Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Separation Anxiety

  Mikey had started kindergarten, and things were going well. The ladies in his classroom were all lovely, and they seemed to have a genuine concern for all of the boys in the class. We had finally fallen into a comfortable routine again , and he seemed happy with his new placement.
  As I had previously mentioned, Mikey loved adventures, and was always a willing participant when we had to go anywhere.This made life easy in many instances. If Mike decided to take Mikey to the store, or the park, he had no problem getting ready and leaving me whatsoever. Unfortunately, this did not work both ways. If I needed to leave the house without him, it became a very difficult task. It was not very often that I could not take him places with me, but every so often, if I had an appointment with a dentist or doctor, or if I had to go to a meeting at school, I was unable to take him. This did not sit well with him at all.
  I remember many times he would be upstairs in the house watching a movie, or relaxing, and I would tell Mike that I was going to the store, never thinking Mikey would even notice I had left. As I would pull out of the driveway, I would look up at our front window, and there he would be, crying. Not just crying, sobbing hysterically. It would break my heart. I would pull right back into the driveway and either cancel whatever I had planned, or pack him up and take him with me. Interestingly enough, he never did this with Mike. We were both very close with him, so the only thing I could think of was that perhaps he was so used to Mike leaving for work each day that it did not affect him as much. I had always been home, so when I left, it was an event. This continued for many years. I remember trying to sneak out on occasion, but not only did it never work, I worried that he would learn not to trust me. We tried to explain to him that sometimes I might need to leave for a short while, but would always return. That did not work either.
  One particular evening, a friend was having a tupperware party , and I went to her house to stop in for a few moments. I had been there for maybe 15 minutes, and my cell phone started to ring. It was Mike, telling me that Mikey was inconsolable. As I was heading out the door on my way home, the woman who
I did not know, had asked me to stay until she finished her presentation. I explained that I  did not mean to be rude but I had to leave. She pressed on, assuring me that she was almost finished, and again, I explained that I had to leave. Again, she asked that I stay, and as my cell phone continued to ring, and I had to firmly tell her that I had a son with autism, who needed me and wasn't going to wait for her to finish her presentation. With that, I left and found Mikey at the front door waiting for my ,sobbing his eyes out. Again, my heart went out to him.
   Fast forward a few years....I believe Mikey was eight when we faced one of the first losses of our lives. Mike's dad  suddenly became ill and passed. We were heartbroken and were in the process of finding out about  all of the arrangements. My first thought was how would I be able to attend the wake and funeral ? Surely, Mikey would be devastated if I left him for any length of time. We arranged for another family member to stay with the boys, and we proceeded to get ready for the services. Then the unthinkable happened. We left the house, got into the car, and Mikey stood at the window,gently putting his hand up as if to wave goodbye.
He did not cry. He did not get upset. He handled the entire situation as if he completely understood why it was so important for us to leave. This happened for two days... for both the wake and funeral. My son understood what had happened.
    Up until that day, I was never able to leave the house without him getting upset. Oddly enough, after those two days, I  rarely had that problem again. I am not sure if he had just matured,or if he had a strong sense of what had transpired, or if he finally understood that it was okay to let go, but he had progressed,and that was definitely a good thing.

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