Tuesday, March 11, 2014


 I was talking with a very close friend about a crisis* G had in school last week and, after I’d been blabbing for some time, she said, “Well, you’re so focused on his autism what with the blog and everything, and, you know, all kids have struggles…”

Oh dear…Is that what people think, that for us it’s all blog and/or autism? To clarify, I have three jobs now. So it’s a privilege to think about this darling blog for even a fraction of a moment. Second, this conversation had nothing to do with the blog [until now, anyway] or G’s having asperger’s. Did I mention autism during my diarrhea of the mouth**? No. This – all this I had been sharing with her about what happened at school, which incident was very painful -- was

This was, maybe, partly, also, being a child of a tough divorce. But autism? Not so much. The main crisis-inducer here was, again: being 12.  Luckily, we are good enough friends that we were able to clarify our respective perspectives well and move on, but it sure got me thinking…

Is 12 the hardest age? My vote is yes.  You are still so young, but bravely trying to be “grown-up.” You are sullen, self-loathing, monosyllabic; while also still wanting and needing to be taken care of and adored. You are still extremely cute and squeezable, yet you are, at times, a jerk. Other times, you are sweet as sunshine. Then: jerk! Sunshine. Sunshine. Jerk.

It’s SO moody at 12.

Your peers are starting to have serious interest in whoever they might be interested in romantically; and, although you might not be quite there yet, you feel it stirring. And it’s confusing.  Watching G sometimes, one can almost see the new feelings and hormones moving inside him, moving him, like the sap running in trees this time of year.

At 12, most kids won’t admit to still liking to play…and yet they do still like to play, in private or at home with younger siblings.

Sure, maybe for G, he’s a bit developmentally behind his peers, but being 12 is something that happens to most people at some point, whether they are 11 or 13 or…

Being 12 is, for G, about knowing soon you will have to put away your stuffies.

Figure I – G has a LOT of stuffies. His treasured seals [one is a manatee, oops!] are in front.***

Being 12, for G, also means still being enough of a little one to offer your best stuffies to your mom when she is sick.

      Figure II – Healing Stuffies, Blanco and Blancli, on Mama’s Pillow****

Being both of these is tender, and raw, and HUGE.

Sometimes things in the Full Spectrum household are pretty near idyllic, and sometimes they are decidedly not. Sometimes that non-idyllic situation has to do with autism or an attachment disorder or something else entirely…Sometimes, for pure awfulness as well as the occasional marvel, being 12 is enough.

Full Spectrum Mama

* Yes, I do use this word advisedly.

** I know I promised less diarrhea-focused writing; this is diarrhea of the mouth.

*** Please, those of you for whom this blog is not anonymous, DO NOT SHOW THESE PHOTOS TO YOUR 12 YEAR OLDS!

**** None of these stuffies will be gotten rid of. It’s possible they will “belong” to G’s younger sister in future, or move to FSM’s bed (shh, pardner doesn’t know about this), or be given to deserving, saintly little ones in great need.


HappyElf Homeschool said...

My 12-year-old Emperor is going through stuff too. He leaves love notes in a certain girl's locker and "happens" to be where she's going to go to class. He's had the "knock it off" talk from us as well. He collects Mario and other stuffed toys. I don't think he's EVER going to get rid of them. :)

Angel The Alien said...

Tell G he doesn't HAVE to give up all of his stuffies! I still keep some on my bed, and I know other adults who do as well. If he's embarrassed, he can always shove them in his closet before friends come over!

Floortime Lite Mama said...

I domt even know how to say how much I connected with you and this post
It was a lovely post by the way and not at all rambling

Full Spectrum Mama said...

AWWWWWWWWWW. Does she respond...or does she think he's "gross"? G's crush is on THE most popular, lovely, mature gal in class. No dice on that one. Gotta keep it on the good side of stalker. He's been advised to not shout "hello" every time she walks by his desk. Sigh.

Full Spectrum Mama said...

Dearest FLM,
THANK YOU. You get it.
Um...do I sometimes ramble? Moi??? ;)

Full Spectrum Mama said...

AngelTA -
You just totally made me bawl. TOTALLY AGREE. I am 44 and still have stuffies. What kind of friend would make fun of your stuffies? Probably, a 12 year old friend...So I fear we spectrum-y ones -- for the endurance of 12-ness -- may need to support G in his desire to "pass"...For Now! I've known this kid since the day he was born and he's a softhearted stuffie lover if ever I knew one, and someday he will claim and own his differences with the pride I am always trying to help him grow. That being said, those stuffies are still on the bed. I heard from my Meeting Friend (http://fullspectrummama.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-meeting-friend.html) that her son's strategy is "those are my little sister's stuffies!" but G is constitutionally incapable of even a white lie so that may not work for him. I will keep you posted -- and thanks, will share what you said!

Flannery said...

Let him keep those stuffies! But ugh, such a hard age, no matter if you're on or off the spectrum. We're moving at full-speed toward those rough years, and I'm SKEERED!

Full Spectrum Mama said...

Oh if it was up to me, G would never give 'em up! He's trying to find his place in the "normal" world of being 12 and sheesh, as you say, hard for everyone!!!!

Unknown said...

As an educator I taught or was Head of School of students from graduate to pre-kindergarten. My favorites were middle schoolers because even at 65 I remember how hard it was being a boy growing at different rates physically, socially, spiritually and intellectually. It also didn't help that my parents' marriage was stressed "to the max." I did not want and refused to allow those precious children to be persecuted for situations far beyond their control. Love, focus and forgiveness akin to the way Yahweh is described in the Old Testament is what's required. Thanks "Mama" for answering the bell. :)

Full Spectrum Mama said...

Dear Unknown-
Thank you so much for your comment! Especially, thanks for the insight of the different parts of growth (physical, social, spiritual, intellectual, I would add emotional, right?) and the idea that children (and yes, middle schoolers are still children!) should be protected from suffering - often at the hands of their peers, but also parents, non-understanding adults at school...- as much as possible at this vulnerable time. Count me in for that duty no matter what. except - what about when he's in school??? Ack.

meeting friend said...

I loved this column. Sometimes,I think my friends with typical kids can't win -- I get frustrated when they don't understand how my son's issues impact the situation, and it bothers me when they assume that "normal" problems must somehow relate back to his issues. Maybe the aggravating part is people making assumptions that don't reflect enough compassion and understanding.

Full Spectrum Mama said...

Beloved MF,
Yes, I have this concern with both of my kids - particularly when it comes to parenting choices I make that differ from the groovy "norm," such as setting strong boundaries and limits. So I want to add "respect" to "compassion and understanding:" we have to respect that most parents are doing the best with the tools and children they have, while also taking into account that there is a wiiiiide spectrum of difference among all people. And if you don't know, you don't know...so do not assume! Better to admit not-knowing - or can it. That's my decree ;)
Your MF,