Parenting the Sibling.

I have not written anything since May 10.  My “other” child, child without autism, had a commencement ceremony.  I flew to Oregon and  spent a few days in Portland. It was my first time away from Robert, with the exception of 4 day emergency trip to Poland. I felt strange. I didn’t even think about Robert yet I felt alienated from myself and out of place.  I followed the crowd of  other parents, clapped when other people clapped , walked when others walked.  I saw the exhibit of her work, read her thesis.  I talked to a few professors about Amanda.  I felt they knew more about her than I did.  I didn’t know what to say, but I talked a lot anyway. I helped with cooking and packing.  After my daughter either  disposed of or packed everything she gathered over the last four years,  we drove east hoping to get to Boston in our 12 years old Honda Civic.  We stopped to look at Multnomah Falls. We took pictures.  In  Baker City we found out that the lower engine of our car was damaged.  Since there was no other way out of Baker City we kept on driving. When we reached Boise, with the help of Goodwill, junk yard, and bike store  we got rid of the full trunk of stuff,the bike ,and the car.  We sent four huge boxes home and packed everything else in four suitcases.  We didn’t want to fly yet.  It supposed to be our road trip. Mother and daughter. In a rented  car we drove to Denver.  This time, only Amanda, my child without autism, was driving.  I drive with a left foot gas pedal.   It can be removed when someone else is driving and put in when I drive.  Yet, in the whole USA there is no car renting company which would rent a car with such a  pedal.   So only Amanda could drive.   And she did.    We talked a lot because we had a lot to say to each other and because we didn’t want to  fell asleep. We missed exit for Shoshone Falls.  We turned back to see them.  We took pictures.  We stopped a lot.  We were tired.  Both of us.  The 60+ miles after  Ogden were the hardest. We stopped at Days Inn in Evanstone, we watched Doctor Who, we hung out.   The next morning Amanda got a speeding ticket.   According to the state trooper she went 20 miles over speed limit.  I don’t know. I doze off for a few minutes.   Getting a ticket was a good wake up call. Our adrenaline jumped up and we didn’t feel sleepy any more.  We stopped to get gas,  eat, and look at the mountains. We talked a lot.  Mostly about  this, that, and nothing.  Just the fluff.  We were stressed and relaxed at the same time. We reached Denver before it got dark, drove through its streets, got to the hotel, returned the car to Avis, watched Doctor Who again, and talked about this and that.

As,the following morning, we were waiting for a plane, I realized that during those nine days we spent together we had a very different connections than we had ever in the past.   In the past Amanda often had to  be in the background. To make it worse, she understood perfectly why we, her parents, had to pay so much attention to Robert.  She understood this all too well.  And acted as if that was fine with her.

When she was younger I signed her for piano lessons, ballet, and art classes.  Not so much because I wanted her to develop all the talents she had, but because I felt that other people could give her more than I could.  Today, I don’t want to remember how  full of tension and stress our home was then, but I felt that for Amanda  being somewhere else was preferable to being home.  I am not so sure of that today.

I  couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying. I often interrupted her because I had to attend to her brother.  For many reasons, which luckily disappeared as Robert grew and changed, our trips to movies, restaurants, museums were always tense.

When she had  problems at school I helped her in the worst possible way explaining,for instance, math with poisonous impatience.

Even when we managed to go somewhere together – museums, independent movie theaters, cafes I was constantly checking time to make sure we would return home in time to relieve the respite provider.

Of course, she understood then and she understands now.  Still, she had her own problems, she tried to hide them.  Maybe she didn’t want to overwhelm me, knowing how on edge our lives were.  Maybe she knew that I wouldn’t be able to help anyway?

In the plane she read, while I  dealt with the  guilt, for so little time spent together, for impatience, lack of attention.  I realized how little I know about her.  And yet during all these years, not only the last four years in Portland, she managed to shape herself without my interference and/or despite my interferences, into a wonderful person I know so little about.  She is smart and yet seems lost, seems vulnerable and yet is strong.

She is alright.

And yet…

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1 Comment

  1. Samantha Alonso

     /  June 22, 2012

    This was amazing to read and it brought me to tears. I remember when Amanda and I were young and I would feel her silent frustration. However, I never once felt that she had any anger in her, rather her love for her brother was palpable. I admire your courage, as well as her patience and pride in her family and her heritage. I miss you all, and I remember Robert fondly.

    Reply

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