Last week I sat in a conference room, with a coffee urn bubbling away in the background and freshly baked biscuits on the table, along with a bunch of other parents, teachers and my mother while we discussed masturbation. If that sentence seems confronting, you should have been in the room.
There was a purpose to this; it wasn’t my idea of a fun was to pass a Thursday night. Instead we were there to learn about sexuality and puberty in adolescents with Autism. Which in and of itself is a pretty big idea to get your head around and the 35-odd slide Powerpoint presentation did little to dull the pain.
I know we have to have these conversations. I know it’s time. In fact according to the slides, we’re late. We should have started almost two years ago. Poss is certainly on the threshold of that next phase; we’ve grown her through her baby years, dragged her through her toddler years and we’ve all survived childhood. Next up is the teen years.
After all these other stages of parenting her, this is the one that scares me the most.
And it’s not because I’m squeamish about talking about masturbation or sex or how to put a condom on a banana, it’s just because I’m so not ready for this next phase. It seems like it was just yesterday she was pushing away from the table, taking her first steps. Now she’s pushing away from us.
I worry that she’ll do just what she did when she started to walk; run hard, fall over and smack her head before getting back up and doing it all over again. However, when she was a toddler, I was able to hold her, wipe away her tears, kiss her forehead and make it better. I’m not sure I can do this for her when it comes to puberty.
I worry that we won’t know how best to help her, how best to support her. Occasionally I can see the glimpses of an amazing woman starting to push through the wrapper of this gangly tween; I know she’s under there. But to keep her safe and make sure she doesn’t break before she even gets there? I don’t know. And it wasn’t in the Powerpoint pack.
I promise to do a more helpful post on this topic shortly; there are books to read, links to look at, ideas to wrap my head around. Endless tips and ideas to help trouble shoot the practical and assist with the hard conversations.
But right now, all I seem to be able to do is watch her while she sleeps; those big long jersey cow lashes resting softly on her cheeks as she breaths softly into the night, wishing I could just stop the clock.
Just for a moment, just a second, to let me catch up.