Susan's Blog

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tough Love

I hope this wasn’t the worst father’s day ever for Ned. We just took Nat to his favorite place, JP Licks and he had promised he would not laugh loudly and spit. But he did. Ned stood up, took Nat’s ice cream and threw it away and made him leave. We stood outside on the street while people stared at poor Nat, so upset, so incredulous that he really was not going back to JP Licks. But Ned was right. “He has to learn how to contain this,” Ned said. Yep, the world is not going to change *that* much.

Meanwhile Nat kept saying, “No laughing, go to JP Licks.” Over and over. Walking towards the store, then coming back when we called him. His eyes going to Ned, then back to me.

My heart was breaking. I’m sure Ned’s heart was breaking too. One young family was staring, the mom raising her brows at her husband, and I looked at her and said one word, “Autism.” Shame on you f***ing bitch. And another family nearby had two sons, staring and whispering. I said to them quietly, “Don’t stare,” and I motioned for them to turn around, right in front of their dad. Yeah, happy father’s day to you, too, and your asshole sons. So much for living in a town that considers itself one of the most progressive and diverse on earth. Not so much when it comes to an autistic young man and his dad losing it.

I just wanted to be swallowed up by the sidewalk. But I said to Ned, “Okay. I’ll go get him some more. If he laughs again, we’ll throw it away again.”  Ned agreed, reluctantly. I got Nat the ice cream, smiling at everyone (on the outside) who had just witnessed us leaving.

Nat grabbed the ice cream and started shoveling it in his mouth, turning to go in JP Licks and eat it in there as always. No way I was going to do that. He was so upset, but we sat on a bench nearby while he gobbled it down. Finally he said, “Push the button, push the button,” meaning the crosswalk light, because he wanted to go back in the store so badly. “Nat what do you want to go back there for,” Ned asked, though we both knew.

“Wash your hands,” Nat said. They went back to do that.  It went fine.

Ned then announced that he was walking home by himself. I was really glad he had decided to do something that would make himself happy.  He’s always carrying us around on his shoulders. He does the heavy lifting. I guess we both do, but it’s getting pretty hard right now. I’ll never give up, and he won’t either, but sometimes you want to. I hope his walk home feels good.


Oh, it’s so hard now, Susan. I know what you mean. Our son has different problems, but it seems that our stress is equal. Yesterday our son was having a terrible day and some moments were heavy, like a wet blanket, sucking all the air out of the room. My husband and I look at each other with that resigned silent language, “What choice do we have but to endure?”

Love and Prayers, Susan

— added by Susan Lee Anderson on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Oh, $hit. $hit. $hit.

We’ve all had days like this.

I’m so sorry that you had one. And on Father’s Day.

Nothing but empathy coming at you. And hugs.

— added by Cathy on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Reading this gave me shivers, I so get it.
I once told a woman in the bank that I was going to “rip her face off” if she didn’t stop staring at my son while he was having a tantrum.
Thank you for sharing, it makes us all feel less alone. Including you, I hope.

— added by DeeDee on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 11:44 pm

Boy, I’ve had experiences such as these. Susan, I have been thinking about you all day. Just know we all send our love and support.

— added by Sharon Jones on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 11:48 pm

Thank you for sharing. I love your blog…makes a lot of us feel less alone. Our family had an incident like this with our 15 year old son on Saturday. Takes the wind out of your sails, but makes you appreciate the good days even more. Keep up the good work-you are wonderful parents.

— added by Kerry on Monday, June 22, 2015 at 10:32 am

Loud, Repetitive, Headstrong, Stubborn, Awkward, So Exhausting.
My son, your son, so many of our sons…..

— added by Jacquie on Monday, June 22, 2015 at 11:44 am

Hi! If it makes you feel any better I’ve had at least one time in which I had a little bit of a case of sensory overload and a resulting meltdown at that J.P. Licks location on Harvard Street in Brookline. I know the place can be fairly busy at most hours of the day.

— added by Daniel Berman on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 9:27 am