Life with Alex is never dull. When he begins doing something new, we sometimes find ourselves puzzled and even frustrated. Sometimes, however, he does new things that amuse and fascinate us. Lately, he’s engaged in some entertaining behaviors that show he’s more mentally alert and involved in the world around him. In my blog entry last week, I described all the questions Alex has been asking, trying to figure out heaven and God. In addition to seeking answers about the afterlife, Alex has been inquiring about my future plans. A couple of weeks ago, Alex started asking me when I will retire from my part-time job as a teacher. He understands the concept of retirement because he knows that my parents are retired, and I guess they have made this stage of life seem quite appealing. Although I have explained to Alex that I’m not really old enough to retire yet, he, nonetheless, keeps pressing me for an age when I plan to quit my job. Since he didn’t seem to appreciate my vague answers, I fell back on one of his favorite lines, “Wait and see,” which seemed to satisfy him.
This past week, however, he decided to come up with a new plan for my future since retirement doesn’t seem imminent. Alex began asking me if I could have a baby. This question took me by surprise not only because I’m too old to have a baby, but also because Alex has never shown any interest in having siblings. Unlike most kids, he has never asked to have a brother or sister, and he has reveled in his only child status. Since my pregnancy with him was high-risk, due to the diagnosis of the bleeding disorder ITP when I was pregnant with him, I had been advised not to have any more children. Once Alex was diagnosed with autism, Ed and I were glad that we only had Alex to raise since he required so much time and care. Alex’s lack of interest in having a little brother or sister made this choice easier. For him to begin asking for a sibling after all these years seemed rather odd until I began analyzing his motives.
One possibility for Alex’s sudden desire for a sibling may be his fascination with little kids. When we take him places, he loves watching small children, and he especially likes hearing their “little voices.” The other day, he asked me if he could babysit, which is a sweet but misguided idea. Although Alex would like to take care of little kids, he’s not even capable of taking care of himself. I simply told him that babysitting is hard work, which seemed to deter him from that notion. Another possible reason for his wanting to have a sibling may come from his recent request to get bunk beds. I have no idea why he wants bunk beds when he is afraid of heights and slightly claustrophobic, making neither bunk particularly appealing to him. Ed had told him that he and his brother, Alex’s Uncle John, had bunk beds when they were boys, and perhaps Alex wanted to share this experience. We then explained to Alex that he didn’t need bunk beds because he doesn’t have a brother. Maybe he thought that if he had a brother, we would get him the bunk beds he wants.
Probably the most plausible reason, however, that Alex wants me to have a baby is that he is looking for reasons for me to be home all the time instead of going to work. Along with his retirement questions, he asks me every night if I’m “going to BF [the shortened name of the school where I work]” the next day, and he seems to look forward to weekends, knowing that I’ll be home. In addition, Ed tells me that Alex asks frequently while I’m at work in the morning when I will be home. He does the same thing in the afternoon, asking me when Ed will be home from work; he just prefers to have both of us home. Considering that last year, he often didn’t want me around him, even bluntly saying, “Mommy is leaving now!” his noticing my presence or absence is an improvement. However, I will be glad when he seems a little less attached to me, but I think this may be some separation anxiety stemming from when he was hospitalized last spring. Despite Alex’s wishes, I will not be retiring any time soon, nor will I be having a baby just so he can babysit, get bunk beds, or have me home all the time. There are limits to my maternal devotion to him. Besides, knowing Alex, he’ll be moving onto a new interest soon, and he will be glad again to be an only child.
“If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’" Ephesians 6:3