The other day Sam and I were driving down the road and I noticed him rubbing his eyes. I asked him if he had sleep in them to which he gave me a perplexed look. I explained that we sometimes call it sleep or sleepies when there is something in your eyes. He explained to me that that sounded far too childish and we should use a more grown up phrase like gunk. He had gunk in his eyes.
My son is big on adulting these days. And honest to goodness, we had just gotten pretty comfortable having an autistic child when suddenly we were faced with having an autistic adult child. Totally different ball game.
But it does make for some interesting conversations as we try to help him navigate certain nuances of life. Like helping him understand that while yes, he is certainly legally an adult he is not the adult he will be five years from now. And that he isn’t ready for the kind of life that he will have five years from now. And it’s okay for him to not be ready now for the then that is to come. But he is supposed to be working toward that older more mature self.
Are you saying I am immature, Mom? He sounded so incredulous and offended at the thought. He, like the rest of us, has forgotten that immature does not have to be a bad thing.
This is a somewhat silly way to consider immaturity but effective I think.
Grapes are not wine but we don’t get angry at the grapes for not being wine. And if we took a bunch of grapes and tossed them into a glass and declared them wine we would recognize such foolishness for what it is. We recognize that in the process of becoming wine, grapes need to be grapes. But we don’t always see so clearly when it comes to each other.
The majority of the time the word immature is being used it is in a negative way. Usually someone is being labeled as childish and juvenile. But, we need to remember that the word also means unformed, undeveloped, at the beginning of something.
Maturity takes time…which means that immaturity is part of the process…which means that immaturity is not always a bad thing. A wise person, a mature person if you will, can see and sort the difference between the one who is immature in a silly infantile manner and the one who is just beginning to flourish and grow.
If we aren’t careful to note the difference between the two we can have unrealistic expectations for those around us. And, just like the fruit of the vine, expecting too much too soon can produce tart, somewhat bitter and less flavorful results.
For people on the autism spectrum dates can carry a lot of weight and Sam knows that at eighteen he became a legal adult. He wants independence and an adult life and it can be difficult for him to understand what he is ready and not yet ready for. A lot of the time he ends up feeling like we are still treating him as a child and boy, does that rub him the wrong way!
We are looking for ways that allow him to feel like he has more control and say in decision making. It’s hard for me to do this sometimes. Mamas all have a protective streak with our kiddos but with a child that has special needs (I typed that and I am not sure I really care for that phrase but I think that is something for me to ponder later) your protective instincts are heightened. I know Sam doesn’t fully process situations accurately sometimes and I know that he isn’t always completely understood by others. The desire to interpret and intervene can be strong and really interfere with his desire to adult. But we’re working on it. He likes going to Walmart with me but we don’t stay together. We basically part ways at the door and when I am finished I can usually find him at the Mario Cart station playing a game, sometimes alone or sometimes with another kid who has wandered up to play. We’ve done that enough times now that I feel comfortable with it.
He’s so funny. He has asked to be allowed to ride his bike to the beach, which is about 20 miles away, so that he can spend the day on the boardwalk and enjoy Bands on the Beach. We had to put the kibosh on that plan obviously but we did find a compromise. The public library is a little over two miles from our house and there are sidewalks available the whole way with a few main street crossings. We rode the route in the car, picking out landmarks and the goal is to let him ride his bike there on his own.
Working through this idea in a very concrete way with Sam has been a good reminder for me to carefully look at where people are and how they are responding and reacting to various situations in their lives. Their response might be less than mature and it may be that is appropriate for the part of the process they are in. I shouldn’t get angry with them for that. The grape isn’t left untended on the vine to just one day magically become a glass full of wine though. It is nurtured and pruned and made ready for the process of becoming something other than it is in that moment. We are supposed to help each other in this process of growing up.
The moment is actually the same for the times when the response is immaturity in a way that is childish. The dressing of the wayward vine should be the same loving response that our heavenly Father gives us each time He gives us opportunity to grow and mature in our faith and in our walk. We are to help them move along, to grow up, and be who they ought to be in that moment.
The reminder that who we are today is who we are practicing to be for tomorrow is good one for all of us. The woman, the wife, the mother, the friend, the faithful follower of Christ that I will be a year from now or five years from now has a lot to do with who I am today. But it should not be the same. Because always who I am in this day should be striving to be more like Christ in the next.