Bittersweet – an 18th Birthday

My oldest child has turned 18. Do you remember when you turned 18? Or maybe when your son or daughter turned 18?

I’m just as guilty as anyone of having ideal pictures in my mind of how it would be when my children grew up. Somewhere in there, the thoughts of my child turning 18 sort of went like this:

She would want to throw a huge party and invite all her friends, along with half the neighbourhood.
We might take her out to dinner to celebrate her young adulthood and this new stage in her life.
Gifts would have to be super expensive, but I would stand firm on not buying her a car!
We’d be lucky to get any time to spend with her, as she’d no doubt be busy with her friends and generally not wanting to be with us boring old folks.
We’d be watching her spread her wings and fly the coop, hopefully not too quickly, but after all, she’d have to make her own life one day.

Well, that’s not what it looks like. Nothing like it in fact.

My oldest daughter has Asperger’s, among some other health issues. We shelved our dreams a long time ago, but the kernel of hope is still there. She is not celebrating the day with friends, because she doesn’t have any. It actually hurt typing those words – my daughter does not have any friends at 18. Not for want of trying really, but I guess it became too much of an effort after a while.

We wanted to take her out to dinner – but she doesn’t want to. It’s apparently too stressful to go somewhere new, and do something so different as take our first born out to dinner.

Presents were not over the top – she never asks for very much. Maybe she doesn’t want to, because she knows we couldn’t afford to buy it for her anyway. Autism doesn’t come cheap (especially in Australia where you pay for everything privately), and her 5 year old brother’s severe Autism has required us to shell out a fortune, so we’re broke.

She’s not ready to leave home, far from it in fact. We’ve been working on life skills with her for years, and are still trying to work with her on getting some form of paid employment to increase her independence. I’m expecting that to be a challenge – coping in a workplace with all those personalities, having deadlines, and just the stress of constantly being with other people. Maybe I’m worrying too much and it will all be fine?

So you can see that our reality is nothing like what our dreams were. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

I can’t leave it on a negative note – I’ve run out of chocolate so I need to cheer myself up another way.
My son is talking.
Big cheer and drum roll please! This is incredible – an absolute miracle, so thank you God! We’re getting echolalia, labeling, and SENTENCES. Yes – sentences like, “door is stuck”, “it’s popped” and I even got a “thank you”. He will be six next month, and we are finally hearing magical words come out of his mouth.

It may not be Friday, but FUA!!!