Every couple of months, the boy (who will be 20 this year) brings up one of his plans for the future and I take the bait. He brings up his future plans all the time, his desire to be a dog masseuse, a chef, a janitor, a professional Yu-gi-Oh duelist, and I blythely go about my business ignoring the unlikelihood of these ever happening as well as his complete obliviousness that these things will not happen. Ah, but, about four times a year or so, I bite and spend the next half-hour to hour trying to explain how and what he would need to do to make any of these a reality. Physically banging my head into a brick wall could not do me more damage than these talks do. They are beyond pointless as none of it reaches him. I start off with assuring him that I love him as he is, that if attending the day program for the disabled is all he ever does, as long as he’s happy, I’m happy. I then transition to pointing out that I believe, though, that he could do more, I don’t know how much more, but more, and that I would be happy to see him achieve his goals. Then, of course, I delineate the ways in which he would need to work to achieve these goals. All of those ways involve effort and a GED, so that’s usually where it stops. The boy can read well enough to get through adult novels (he misses the emotional or abstract parts), do basic math, and write a little. He’s got a proclivity to Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor facts, though, that staggers the imagination. If there’s a way to completely butcher it and miss the point, the boy can and does, and no amount of explaining where he’s wrong will fix it.
So, today on Mother’s Day, he started with the chef thing and kissing girls, how that came in I don’t know, and I bit. And I got nowhere at all, except that this time it ended with him uttering that being a chef would be nice but it wasn’t worth a GED to do it and this life now was easier. I don’t know why I do this to myself, as one of our “conversations” can immediately trigger a migraine that leaves me in the bathroom bent over the commode, wondering why I never learn. If you leave the boy alone, let him drone on about Yu-gi-Oh, Soul Calibur, his other video games, Gangland, and UFO sightings, as well as his career goals, offer your occasional grunts of acknowledgment, he’s happy and all’s well with the world. Try to point out anything at all counter to what he’s said and you hit a brick wall that will knock you over and depress the hell out of you. The boy’s fine, at least, at the end of the “conversation” so there’s that positive. He remains untethered in time, unaware of the riptide he’s made in your day.
Migraine meds swallowed, I’m left to find peace in the pieces of me that these conversations inevitably shatter. Most times, I wade along, untethered in time with the boy, at least with regards to him, my constant, seemingly unchanging child. There, where time does not ripple forward but pools stagnant, algae green unmoving, we can be happy, insulated from the outer world, and he is free to be just the boy, compared to himself only. When those waters ripple, when they become rapids, the pieces of me shatter, and I am no longer untethered. I learned long ago to find the peace in the pieces of me in my gardens. The older the boy and I get, the longer our journey together, the more the garden means to me. So, today, on Mother’s day, after the inevitably pointless shattering conversation, I retreated to my garden, on this misty day. West Texas gardening is a challenge, especially when what you’re trying for is a lush, English cottage garden. It’s a lot like raising an autistic child or two or three. It takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and it can be heartbreakingly frustrating. But when it works, when the years of work build and the effort finally shows through, the payoff is big and the pieces of me are no longer shattered and I have that moment of bliss; I have peace in the pieces of me.