Maybe we should have told him back when we discovered he would be 69 tomorrow. He’s one of those old soul types. He’s always accepted his sister as “she is who she is.” But surely this smarty pants of a brother knows something is up. A friend mentioned she heard a psychologist say, that by 18 months, siblings of autistic children develop suspicions and if they’re not explained, they make up things in their heads. Mums been the word for all his “five years in the making” life.
He’s kept secret his thoughts when we went to the strawberry farm. She wouldn’t leave the car at first. He and dad went on ahead. I had to pry her off the car seat and tell her “We’re going to pick strawberries and it’s going to be fun!” He and dad had already picked strawberries and were on to the petting farm. She was still looking under strawberry plant leaves with a bit of scary anticipation and flap your hands excitement.
He must ponder the time she screamed after coming home from the grocery store. After waking up from a solid 20 minute nap in the car, she was transitioning back from sweet dreams to real world. He and dad brought in groceries while I squeezed her tight on the couch and she yelled “No! Mommy No!”
He must remember with bewilderment the time we had a play date with two young boys. One was just learning to walk. He enjoyed the conversation with someone close to his own age. She spent awhile on mom’s lap. “Mommy, shhh! He’s coming! Shhh!” she’d say. The spontaneity and freedom of a new young explorer was too much.
He must have puzzled over the time she uttered “I’m just straightening to do it” over and over again. “You are not making sense!” he declared. “Stop saying that.”
“Be quiet!” she said. “You’re not talking about anything and I’m straightening to do it so don’t talk about it!” she says in perfect articulation, expression, and “What in the world ?”muttering.
He kept no secret his frustration when she got so excited about a scene in a movie that she hit him. “She really hurt me.” he says in tears. “She can’t just hit me like that. Do something mom!”
We’ve not spilled the beans yet. We’ve held off until Someday…. We’ve not told him the reason for all the kooky twists to many family experiences. We’ve not told him the awful truth that at times has pricked our lives enough to make us weep. We’ve not told him – “Son, your sister has autism. ”
With his imagination and thought process at times more sophisticated than mine, I’m certain he has some sensible conclusion for coping until that Someday. Perhaps he will be the one to spill the beans first and say: This is my sister. There’s something wrong at times, but not wrong enough to make me want to wave a magic wand and make it go away forever. She makes me laugh, cry, wrestle, race, jump, and most of all- strong. Without her, I am not who I am. Without her, our family would not be who we need to be.
Someday may come sooner. “We’ve got to tell him! We’ve got to tell both of them. ” I say to my husband. “But how?”
“We sit them down and we say “This is the best idea of God’s. God made you this way and your sister this way. ” he replies.
Yet, because of all the crazy, living, and learning days leading to that all important Someday of full explanation, “This Way” and “That way” are more like THE WAY and not knowing any other way. Spoiling the secret, could result in many ways forward. But that is the only way to move when you are living with autism. Once the Someday Secret is finally revealed, we may only simply continue on with Our Way, the way God authored. The way leading to the Ultimate Someday of all secrets revealed and we experience a forever life of no secrets only marvelous and joyous – answers. Someday.