Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Peek into Divorce and Family Through Nickys Eyes

Fact: 86% of the marriages fail in families who have children with autism.

Nicky and I both celebrated our birthdays last weekend. Part of the celebration included a friend taking us to dinner. Our friend was very careful to find a restaurant that would be nice for me and great for Nicky. The solution a nice restaurant with a variety of food and beautiful enclosed booths for privacy. It was terrific, everyone got something they wanted. I was able to enjoy my birthday with my kids at an adult restaurant. No kiddo’s running everywhere, no cartoon character cups, paper place mats and a selection that did not include pizza or chicken fingers for adults! Yippee, it was a grown up evening all around. I even ordered lobster! Evyn got to taste her first soufflĂ©. She tried the lobster and decided she did not like eating food that looked just like it looked in the ocean. The “whole lobster” thing really freaked her out. It was very funny. Nicky got the fanciest chicken and shrimp strips on the planet and he, unlike Evyn ate the lobster and asked for more. He also loved the soufflĂ©s.

It was quiet at the table as we ate our dinner, when suddenly Nicky looked up pointed to each of us and said “Mother, Father, Sister, Brother”. Evyn looked at me as if to say “No, and that’s weird mom”. It was a little awkward, so no one said anything. Then Nicky repeated, but a bit louder “Mother, Father, Sister, Brother” and he smiled and went back to his dinner. Wow, what now? Nicky has not seen his dad in 2 years. At the same time I know Nicky has not forgotten him. I know Evyn was thinking that she wished her Dad was there and my guess is the comment was a big fat reminder that our family was not whole in the way she once knew or in the way she wished it to be. I sensed a mild wave of sadness and loss pass through me and Evyn. I even felt for my friend who could not help but notice the significance of the moment.

Then I started to wonder what was going on inside of Nicky. Why did he say that? What was he trying to tell me? I think it was pretty simple. Every kid wants a family and family is defined most places (especially in his favorite kids video’s) as a Mom, a Dad and the kids. Nicky wants a family. He said out loud what each of us from broken homes thinks quietly, what each of us wishes we had, a complete family. He was able to say what he felt and what he thought of the scene before him. To him a man, a woman, him and his sister, all together was a family. I actually think that in that moment, it was enough for Nicky and he was happy. Wow. Talk about living in the moment.

Sadly, 86% of the marriages fail in families who have children with autism. I think we can all agree this is because the parents can’t cope. I know it’s hard on the kids, but it seems that maybe they cope better than we do. As always, Nicky keeps teaching me things.

1 comment:

  1. As I read this entry into your blog, I was reminded of the first time I heard Nicky become upset at school, and repeat several times "It's okay, Nicky see Daddy later". Mark was working with us at the time, and he had said that Nicky's Dad was gone. For some reason, maybe the fact that my own father had passed away a year or so prior to this, I had thought that it meant that Nicky's Dad had passed too. Since that time, Nicky's gotten upset a few times, and called for his Dad, and I usually respond to him by saying that it's okay, I miss my Dad too. Usually, that seems to calm him a little. But when you had to go out of town earlier this year, it really seemed to get to him. He started off with "see Daddy later", and crying for him a little, but then switching to calling and being upset for you. It was shortly after this time that I learned that Nicky's dad was still alive. But the reality is, in many ways, with his Dad not being a part of his life, it is like his Dad being dead for him. It's not that he hasn't forgotten him, it's that Nicky continues to grieve his loss without being able to express it to others the same way we can. I guess that is what divorce does in a family, but it still sucks.