I had a conversation with my son today. My oldest son. Max is nine years old, and he has Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m going to take for granted that most of you know what Asperger’s is.
I had a lot of fun with Max in his first few years. Mary Ann and I knew there was something different about him from the beginning, but we that pleased us. He was definitely a “little professor”, and I reveled in his impressive word choices. We would talk about his interests in ways that fit a two, three, four, five year old, and we would play and have a good time.
We found out about Max’s Asperger’s when he was six. When you hear about Asperger’s, or when you see it in movies, you often hear about how folks with Asperger’s drone on and on about their particular interest. It gets boring they say, or annoying, or what have you. But when that person is your son, it’s justnot the same. Max never bored me. And I only sometimes get annoyed. Mostly I get hungry.
I get hungry for a real, live conversation. I want to know what Max thinks about his life, about the family, about what matters to him. I want to know the boy as he is on the inside. When I tried past he tended to give me phrases he learned from TV, or facts about Power Rangers or Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. I wanted to share those things with him because they mattered to him, but I wanted something deeper.
Earlier today I sat on the cold, white bathtub while Max prepared for bed, and we talked. About baby names. Not Power Rangers, though he did submit “Tommy Oliver” as a naming option. I told him a couple of name choices we were actually considering, and he told me what he thought (yes on the middle name, no on the first name). We laughed together about silly names. He’s been sworn to secrecy on the name choices, by the way, so don’t try it!
That little conversation was one of the sweetest moments of my life as a dad. Me and my son, just talking. Real live give and take, not a series of topic switches in disguise. I don’t know how many more of those we’ll have-hopefully thousands-but I do know that I’d sit on the edge of the bath tub until my legs go numb for a second round.