Susan's Blog

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fight Day

Do you feel cut off from a child simply because of his autism? I know I feel that way a lot. Well, perhaps you and I might want to take another look at that. Perhaps it’s not autism, or not just autism that makes it hard for you to know your child; perhaps it’s that he’s a boy. Perhaps it’s that she’s a girl. Perhaps it’s because they’re all just people and we never actually know the insides of another person’s head, do we?

I don’t know a whole lot more about what is in my teenage son Max’s head, either, and he certainly does not have autism. He is two years younger than his autistic brother Nat — almost 18. And he is a continual surprise to me — just like his older brother.

Today in the car on the way to high school drop-off — I ought to rename that little ten-minute period something like Time of Revelation With Max — I asked him nonchalantly if he was sure it was okay that I was driving him. Usually he walks with his friend Yaz, unless it is very late or very cold. Today was neither, yet he had directed me to drive him to school after we dropped off Benj, my eleven-year-old.

“Yeah, it’s good that I’m not meeting up with Yaz today because it’s February 12 and that’s Fight Day.”


“Fight Day is the 12th of every month. We fight the whole way to school. All day.”

I laughed, which is amazing for me at 8a.m. most days. It feels like my face will just crack right off. “What? You fight?”

“Yeah. We, you know, rag on each other the whole time. And the 13th is Peace Day, when we make up. So it’s kind of funny that he’ll, like, be waiting for me and I won’t be there.” These are high school seniors. This may sound weird, but I haven’t really seen Max fight or insult anyone much. He’s really very well-behaved, at least around me. But, see? I don’t know everything about Max.

At first I just drove on, thinking back to my high school days. Fight Day? Would I ever have had something like that with Cynthia R, my best friend at the time? I know when we were in junior high we once in a while did fake fighting, and slow-motion fighting, but we never institutionalized it. And just a whole day of put-downs? Forget it. And by the way, I was way more of a bitch than Max. Sometimes I was really a Mean Girl, I am sorry to say. So when I think of Max being fight-y, it is just such a surprise.

I said, “Well, maybe it’s a guy thing.”

“Girls fight like that all the time, every day,” Max said, as we pulled up behind the headmaster’s car. “See ya,” he said.

I watched him lope up the steps, a tall beautiful young man, my darling child, who is also a mystery to me.


Susan you make me think about my own daughter. When she was little, I felt like I really knew her. Then, when she was a teenager, the only time I could be (almost) sure to really connect was in the car. Probably because we were trapped. She would always talk in the car. Then sometimes she would say "Mom can we please just go for a ride?" which was code for "I really really want to talk to you"! As time went on, either one of us could be the driver, didn't matter. I treasure those rides. Even now, she can be an enigma, but the "let's go for a ride" has turned into us talking each other all the way home from work, in our separate directions, leaving work, which is so similar. Thanks for making me remember that.
On a totally different note, so many of the kids and adults I've been with love love love shredding. And so do I. I had a gigantic stack of papers and was shredding today and 2 of our guys came to me and told me, in their ways, that they wanted to help me. Of course, I said yes, then got them a special treat to say thanks. I think it's a soothing job. It certainly is to me, I love love love to shred too:)
Do any of your kids out their like to shred?

— added by michele on Friday, February 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm

i love this post, such sweet man/boys they are at 18 and those few minutes in the car with them, priceless. thanks for sharing this glimpse.

— added by kathleen on Friday, February 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm

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