How Old Is He?

Sometimes a conversation turns to my children. My daughter is comparatively easy, but my son is not. I used to tell people the number of years he’s been in our life, and hope the topic would change. When it didn’t, we entered into treacherous, uncharted territory.

We still might enter that territory, but these days we’ll take a different, less dangerous route. How old is he? I’m not giving you a number.

If I told you his age, you would have so many assumptions and misconceptions that we could easily spend the rest of our time correcting them. Let’s skip that part.

I don’t mean to be coy, but as I struggled to explain our family’s unusual life, there are so many words you could intentionally or accidentally utter that would make me very angry, if only for a little bit. I’m trying to avoid that too.

You would likely be overwhelmed by the things he can’t do, and probably be unable to appreciate the things he can and does accomplish. Some of your questions would be predictable, others not. I would be unable to answer most of them to your satisfaction.

You might be curious about the drama, all our planned and unplanned trips to the doctor, his setbacks and victories, and what the future might hold. But I won’t burden you with our past, and none of us knows the future.

You would eventually be compelled to offer an unpredictable mix of sympathy and advice, almost all of it personally painful and infuriating. This is the part I’m most earnestly trying to avoid. My son isn’t a problem to be fixed, and I know you mean well, but…

Let’s just agree that he is far more exceptional than you or I will ever fully understand, and leave it at that.

Now, how about that weather we’ve been having?