I didn’t realize just how much I missed with my older son until my younger son became 13. My oldest son has Autism, and because of that, a lot of peer pressure that kids deal with growing up are very different for him. His biggest concern is living on his own. Dealing with that issue was nerve wracking enough, because once he became 18, he was legally an adult. For him I used facts. Emotional discussions dealing with my worry, my fear, and emotions was not the best way to approach him. In fact, I knew he wouldn’t understand.
For my oldest son, I dealt with the issues diplomatically. He cannot drive. He cannot tell time. He cannot count money. He doesn’t have a normal job but instead handles a job at Publix as part of his school’s work program for children with disabilities. Once I laid these down in front of him, he didn’t speak so much about leaving home as he once had and actually started working with his teacher on his lack of skills. I’m still worried about his competency, and my biggest fear is someone will take advantage of him. It’s my hope that as he begins to learn more daily living skills he’ll learn to read people better.
Right now I try to give him situations in daily living and ask him how he will deal with them. The stove catches on fire, what does he do? The pipe in the bathroom busts what does he do? A friend ask for a hundred dollars what does he do? Slowly but surely I’m working through our issues to help him get the independence he wants and also give me peace of mind.
My youngest son doesn’t have Autism, and problems started right away once he turned 13. The first thing that I had to deal with was my son and his friend coming to me to ask for condoms. To say I was shocked is an understatement, and my first thought was to say no. I suppose I was really concerned that my giving in on taking them to the health department would encourage him to have sex. After I thought about it, I realized that if he was going to have sex, there was little I could do to stop him and protection might be the best thing for him to have on hand.
Still I didn’t want him to take my giving in as permission. So I took him to the health department and requested condoms. Most of them wound up being used as prank water balloons, much to my relief. However, I knew I had to step in and have ”THE” talk with him. The first thing I talked about was diseases. He merely nodded and shrugged off everything I said. So I went one step further. I went online and pulled up pictures of herpes outbreaks, genital warts, and the tons of pills that HIV positive victims had to take. My son was properly horrified.
Next I talked to him about pregnancy. Rather then go on about how he was too young I made him carry a baby doll around. He wasn’t allowed out to play because he had to take care of his baby. His allowance went into the ‘Baby Jar’. I took him to the store to show him the price of baby food, diapers, toys, and various other things one gets for an infant. With those prices in mind and written down I made him budget his allowance based on paying at least half the store price to help the ‘ mother ‘ of his child. He watched in dismay as every penny he got disappeared. At the end of a 3 month period I pulled his allowance up and showed him what he saved by not having to care for a child. He was able to buy 3 X-box games and he was overjoyed!
Finally, I asked him to remember his last girlfriend and how bad it had hurt then when they broke up. I told him to think about having sex with her and how much more hurt he would have been when they split up after having a sexual relationship. I think this discussion seemed to effect him the most.
I felt good about how I had handled that until he turned 14 and he and 2 friends of his started taking pills and drinking. I was beside myself. I had always told my sons about the dangers of drugs and drinking but apparently I hadn’t made much of an impact. Time to grab the bull by the horns. I grounded him from his friends for a month and had a meeting with the other mothers. I’ll admit there was some finger pointing as all of us felt the other one was the ‘ bad influence’.
I bought a lock box for my pills and locked them up and then I sat down to talk again to my son about the danger. This time I fell back on a tried and true method. I pulled up before and after pictures of meth users. Then I started the ‘ Drug Jar ‘. I asked a friend of mine who was a deputy to give me a rough estimate of the costs of doing drugs. I admit I was astounded at how much more it costs to buy drugs then to take care of a child. Again my son wound up broke. I sat down and told him about my drug and alcohol use.
I think that conversation was worse on me then him. He was fascinated. His mom smoked pot when she was 14? His mom snuck out to a friend’s house and got drunk drinking beer? His mom was friends with a kid who was hooked on cocaine? Yep, yep, and yep. I told him how lonely I had been when I went to middle school. How I wanted to fit in and be cool. How going out was just an excuse to get drunk and how hard it was to admit I had a problem that had to stop. I talked to him about what he wanted in life. He wanted to finish school and become a glass blower. I wanted him to be happy with life, to go further then I had ever dreamed possible. We talked about how drugs could help him with that future.
Oh dear drugs WOULDN’T help with that future. In fact he realized that on top of leaving him broke, possibly addicted, and having to deal with that addiction he could be kicked out of school and upon failing drug tests would not get a job doing something as dangerous as working with molten glass. The thought of maybe being stuck flipping burgers or worse not working at all seemed to make a difference. I allowed him to see his friends on the condition that they didn’t leave my site until I felt better towards them. One dropped out of site and I was pleased to learn that since he decided to continue to use drugs both my son and his friend stopped hanging out with him and having him over.
I knew I wasn’t out of the wood work yet so when he turned 15 I was really expecting to have to deal with those same issues again. I was wrong. Now my son wanted both of his ears pierced, his eyebrow pierced, and his lip pierced. I refused and then caught him trying to pierce his own ear so I quickly compromised. If he would bring up 2 F’s he had in school to C’s I would let him get one ear pierced. He did bring his grades up and I kept my promise. However I’m resistant to have both ears pierced and I certainly don’t want his lip pierced so I turned on the trusty Internet again. Sadly pictures of infected piercing didn’t faze him. Apparently their were a lot of students in his school that had piercing and it was very difficult for me to argue against them.
So this time I compromised again. I told him once he brings up his other grades I will let him get his other ear pierced. So far I’ve been lucky in the regard he’s not quite managed to bring them all up to par. I made sure to take him to buy new earrings for his one ear and he’s seemed very happy with that. My hope is to keep him from piercing anything else until he’s 18. I know once he turns 18 I’ll loose control of what he does to his body.
For now we talk about the piercing what it means to him and what it means to me and on this subject we’ve agreed to disagree but I feel like I won the main battle with him. So far he’s been an excellent student. A polite thoughtful boy and he’s been honest with me about what he does when he’s out from under my watchful eye. I can’t say he’s an angel but he’s still talking to me about his problems and the pressure from his friends and to me that’s the most important thing in the world and I hope it’s a privilege I don’t loose anytime too soon. I still have 3 more years to get through.