Susan's Blog

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Let Sleeping Teens Lie

So I was talking about my laissez faire thing in the previous blog post. Actually the reason I started writing about that was Max. But suddenly the Natlove came pouring out of my fingers, so I had to let it run.

But the Maxielove. Well, that is just as powerful and just as unknown a subject. Strange how so many of us think of autistics as “mysteries” but when you think about your teenagers, any teenagers, there is a lot of mystery there, too. Max just smiles at me and his eyes are the same as his baby eyes, but there is this all-knowing, all-accepting expression. There always has been. He is an old soul. Even when he was a toddler, when one of his little friends would take a toy from him, he would turn to me with that same expression, that asked, “Why do they do that?” but also, “Oh well, it’s just a toy. Don’t worry, Mommy.”

How I worried about him! Would he ever assert himself? Was he okay being like this? He was so gentle, so passive. Was he sad on the inside, repressed? Or was he just a totally different kind of being from me?

See what I mean? Mysteries, all of them.

Anyway, Max. So I noticed the other day that he and Hannah were just kind of napping on his bed. Hmm. I let it go, but I told Ned. “The two of them are sleeping!”

So then the next time she was here, it happened again. Curled up together like kittens. So I asked Max, “What’s with the sleeping so much?”

He shrugged and smiled. “I don’t know. It’s so comfortable!”

“But — are you tired? Are you getting enough sleep? You’re probably throwing off your sleep cycle! I should know! I nap every day. But I’m old!”

He just gazed at me. Those eyes.

So then I talked to him about it. “I don’t know, Maxie, I just feel — weird. It’s just — if I were to ask any of my adult friends about it, they’d all kind of be — hmmmmm. It’s hard to understand why you’re just kind of sleeping like that. I know there’s no real harm in it, I just — I don’t know.” I kept faltering like that, trying to figure out what I meant, while he just listened.

The next day he said, out of the blue, “So does it really bother you, the napping?”

I tried again to explain it.

Then he came home without Hannah yesterday. “Hey,” I said. “Did she not come over because of the napping thing, what I said?”

Max shrugged, smiled. “Kind of.”


Still smiling, he said, “She’ll be back. You know Hannah.” Despite all of the uncertainty I was feeling, there was this well of pride I felt for this boy, who could be so gently certain of himself and of his loved ones. So sure that life was okay, nothing to worry about, just like when he was a baby.

And then a picture of Linus flashed into my head. Linus, with his blue blankie, had always reminded me of Maxie. Then I remembered: Linus used to pat birds on the head. He and the birds were so happy with it, too. Then one day, Lucy yelled at him for patting the birds. “No one pats birds on the head!” she yelled, shaming him. The last frame is of Linus looking down at the birds and all of them look so sad.

So I called Max while he was walking to school. I told him the Peanuts story. “You know,” I said. “I don’t want to be like Lucy.” He gave that dry laugh. “I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with you guys napping like that. It’s just that — like the bird-patting — it’s not something other kids really do. You know? So tell Hannah.”


And she came back today.


I know I always thought it odd how my teenage nieces and nephew would come to family gatherings and find the first comfy place to lay and fell asleep despite the social aspects of the gathering. I wondered how can they sleep so much? I wonder sometimes now if being a teen takes a lot out of one nowadays, so much more expected of them, and sleep is a wonderful escape, and add in all the hormones and growth still occuring….oh and it just feels good!

He is a wise old soul. I think everyone wishes they had a “Linus”

— added by Bonnie on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 6:30 am

Puts a smile on my face this morning Sue.

— added by Someone Said on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 10:06 am

I just had to ask- is it the napping that you find bothersome or is it the napping with Hannah? My 16-year old naps at all times too (drops like a log anywhere and everywhere but has difficulty falling asleep at night) but I think if I saw him napping with a girl he likes, I think I’d feel a little uncomfortable too. Even if it’s just napping. Ah, maybe it’s just me, a little too straightlaced and ehr, possessive. Maybe I should also learn to be not like Lucy.

— added by Kittymama on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 10:16 am

Spooning is the best. That is all. Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

My parents would have birthed an entire herd of cows if I was ever “caught” napping with a boyfriend. I hope I can be the kind of mom you are when my boys are teens, Susan. Kudos to you for not freaking out about the small stuff.

— added by ASDmomNC on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm

“Napping”. Um…sure. Wonder if her mother is aware she is permitted to do this at your house. Clearly you are not a mother of daughters.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 3:31 pm

I am not a mother of daughters but I would protect any child as much, no matter what the gender. What’s the difference?

By the way, I am in close contact with the mom, she’s a doll, like her daughter, a terrific mother. Napping, yes, the door is always open, and half the time Ben wonders in and plays on the Play Station. It is an honest, innocent situation; just kind of odd to me.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 3:37 pm

the are both teens, and teens are notoriously tired and love to nap, and they are often together, so they often NAP together. nothing more than that-but I get it. there is something Romeo and Juliet about it.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 6:21 pm

I napped constantly as a teen.
But my mom flipped when she caught me napping with my boyfriend. We were just sleeping, there on the carpet – but she felt like it would spread rumors that we were “sleeping together.”

Moms can be so protective – I wonder if I will be that way too?

— added by Shannon Brooke Davis on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 4:31 pm