A view from my side.
So…the long awaited “to be continued…”
Kid#1 is now 21 years old. He has matured and grown emotionally. He has learned how to adjust to his Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and it no longer rules his life. He is finding his place in life and is figuring out where he wants to be. Getting there, however, was a road fraught with obstacles.
The biggest one, of course, was Ex#3. Their relationship was so bad that I once had to stop him from calling Child Protective Services. It made perfectly good sense to him at the time. Call CPS and he would have her removed from the household. It never dawned on him that it would be Kids#2 and 3 who would be removed and that they would all either be placed in foster homes or sent to NC to live with their mother, Ex#2. Additionally, he did not understand that his father would be investigated, questioned, and would have to fight to get them all back. All he wanted was to get away from Ex#3. It was one of the many times when his “AS was showing.”
After all of this was explained to him, he decided calling CPS was not the best idea in the world. I suggested that he apply to the state’s School of Math and Science (SMS). It is a public boarding school, 4 hours away, and he was certainly smart enough. The issue would be could he live in a dormitory. Did he have the social skills and did the school have the ability to deal with his AS. It became his goal, as a sophomore in high school, to enroll in the SMS as a junior. He was not challenged in the least by his local public school, despite the fact that it was considered one of the most rigorous in the area.
So, he hatched a plan to get there. One day, having had enough of Ex#3 and the school he was in, he simply walked out of the school. He showed up for attendance in his 1st period class, excused himself to go to the restroom and walked out a side door. The school had no idea he was gone. I found out a little after 1:00 p.m. that afternoon when a sheriff from a county about 50 miles southeast of our house called me to let him know he had picked him up hitch-hiking. Since he should have been in school, the sheriff stopped him to ask who he was/where he was going, etc., and got the whole story. Kid#1 was fine, sitting in the office and would I please come pick him up.
Before leaving, I called the school to check on him. Yes, they told me…he was in class today. Imagine their reaction when I told them where he was and how I found out. But that is another story for the “Stupid School Administrator’s” category.
Anyway, Kid#1 had run away and was headed to the SMS. He figured he would talk with them, tell them he wanted to enroll, take whatever test he had to take and move in that afternoon. Here is another situation where he was showing his AS. When I arrived, the sheriff and I chatted a bit. He asked me if I wanted him to call the sheriff in my county to come out and talk to Ex#3. Apparently, Kid#1 had been telling him stories. While the stories were indeed true, I admitted, I declined the offer, told him Ex#3 and I were in counseling and that Kid#1 and her had a very rocky relationship. He wished me good luck, told Kid#1 good-bye and we were on our way.
Life for Kid#1 continued along on those lines for a while. He did get admitted to the SMS and spent 1.5 years there. He graduated from high school and went off to Seattle to a specialized college. He hoped to be a video game designer, but realized it was actually a lot of work and that he wasn’t really prepared to put that much time and effort into learning how. He spent 2 years in that area, working full-time in a few fast food places. He then tried his hand at a culinary school, thinking it would be cool to be a chef. Finally figuring out what he really needed was the standard 4 year university degree, he returned home and, after establishing residency for tuition purposes, enrolled in Auburn a year later. He’s doing well, with a GPA over 3.75 while working 24 hours a week.
Not to shabby. He’s always had my support and respect. I’ve always tried to guide him, pointing the way, but allowing him to try the things he felt passionately about. Failure is, after all, a learning experience and “Not Everyone Should Get a Trophy.” The lessons he learned were necessary and often painful to watch. But all I could do was watch and be supportive.
It is paying off for him. He is achieving success where in the past he has floundered. He now knows what to do, how to behave and what is important. When he said he was coming home Christmas night, I asked him if he did not have to work Christmas day. He said that, yes, he did. But that he also knew this year was an opportunity to have everyone together. All the kids…1-4, in the same place at the same time with their father. It was important to him that he be here, with us, on Christmas night to make that happen. I’ve never been prouder. Kid#1 has arrived.