54: Womb Pact

54: Womb Pact

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum

Womb Pact

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that he didn’t trust me so much.

~Mother Teresa

It’s a sunny April day as I sit in the overstuffed preschool conference room for Carter’s case conference. I had finished Spencer’s conference the week before and I had learned he was a bright boy (“scary smart”), had great teacher-pleasing skills and was making some progress in social skills and communication with other kids. He was a good listener; we just needed a way to help him find his voice so he could communicate with us.

So now I’m about to find out how his twin brother, Carter, is doing. Sitting around the table with me is his occupational therapist, the school nurse, the coordinator and his preschool teacher, Marje Snow.

I love Mrs. Snow. She’s a wealth of knowledge and has this easygoing way about her that just makes you feel comfortable and safe discussing anything about your child.

The conference begins with a review of his goals for the year and the progress he has made. He, too, is a smart boy with a penchant for the alphabet and all things space and music. He flows fairly easily through the routine of the day. He is a loving child.

“He does tend to wander, though,” adds Mrs. Snow.

My head pops up from the report. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, we’ve just had a couple of instances where he was gone from the room. That’s why we have the child’s gate at the door now.”

I had seen the gate on the door for quite a while but had no idea it was due to my son’s love of adventure.

“You mean, like, escape? Where did he go? How far did he get?” I ask.

“One time he got to the front office, another time he got to Spencer’s room.”

At the opposite end of the building. “Wow,” is about all I can muster. I had no idea he was escaping and wish I had been told.

Mental Note: Talk to Carter about this.

“And we think he is capable of doing more than he is,” continues Mrs. Snow.

“How so?” I ask.

“Well, for instance, he gets his coat and then hands it to Mr. Mike to put it on for him. I know he could do that himself but Carter likes others to do things for him.”

I flash-forward to Carter living in my basement at the age of forty yelling upstairs, “Ma, can you bring me another grilled cheese and a glass of milk?” as The Wiggles play in the background.

I nod my head in agreement. “Of course. I’m sure I’ve been lax in teaching him or making him do these things at home. You know, sometimes it’s just easier and faster to do them yourself . . . trying to get all the kids out the door on time. It’s just us not making him do it. But I’ll make him. I’ll start teaching him to be more independent. Absolutely.” (Because I am a good parent. And if I admit my faults enough perhaps I’ll still be seen as a good parent. So let me just accept the responsibility for him and move on.)

She assures me she understands, but somehow I still feel like I failed Carter in his transition from toddler to preschooler.

“And probably the one thing we struggle with the most is his receptive language,” says Mrs. Snow. “He doesn’t process requests as quickly as others. He doesn’t process two-step requests.”

I look up again.

“The other night I asked him to take a bowl from the family room and put it in the kitchen sink. He took it to the table,” I explain.

“I told him to take it to the sink and he took it to the island. Again, I said the sink and he put it on the stove. Finally after the fourth time he took it to the sink. Is that what you mean?”

“Yes, exactly.”

Mental Note: Tell his dad that it isn’t a matter of Carter not listening to us. He truly doesn’t understand what we are asking of him.

“So Carter communicates with us fairly well, he just doesn’t always receive what we’re saying,” continues Mrs. Snow. “We need to . . .”

“Wait. He communicates okay but has a hard time understanding what we’re saying, right?” I ask.


“And Spencer can understand everything we say but can’t communicate with us,” I continue.

“Well, from what I know of Spencer . . .” says Mrs. Snow.

“My boys . . . are the exact opposite . . . on the spectrum,” I say with trepidation. “Carter can talk but doesn’t understand what we’re saying, while Spence can’t say a word but understands everything. I have the entire spectrum! My boys are the spectrum.”

The people at the table just look at me with raised eyebrows and Mrs. Snow nods at me with an “I-think-I-have-a-parent-about-to-lose-it” smile.

I continue with the meeting and making plans for next year, but in my head I keep repeating, “I have the entire spectrum. We don’t get a break. We have the whole, entire spectrum.”

Later that night as I watch the boys play together, I can’t help but wonder how this happened. How could one boy communicate and the other not? How can one understand perfectly while the other struggles?

Knowing my boys and how mischievous they are, this is how I think it went down in the womb:

Baby A: “Hey, Baby B, wanna have some fun with the mother ship?”

Baby B: “Sure, what ya got in mind?”

Baby A: “How about if you talk, but don’t listen to anything she has to say. And I’ll listen but I won’t talk. It’ll be a riot!”

Baby B: “I LOVE it! Let’s do it. Now, move your butt so I can get some sleep.”

And so while I rested and nourished them with apple slices and peanut butter, they were eagerly plotting my motherly demise.

Mother: 0; Boys: 2.

~Sharon L. Martin

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