“FISH KILLER! You Son are a bone fide Fish murderer.”
I admit now, the words were harsh. Look at them. Killer. Murderer.
On paper, it looks even worse.
I am not a mean person by nature, not for enjoyment and I’m pretty sensitive to how people might feel when you speak to them and I definitely do care that my kids don’t gain complexes that will cripple them for adulthood and curve off the life they “COULD” have had if they just believed in themselves.
BUT, I am also obligated to raise my children to be kind and caring.
To value life, any life. No matter how small or insignificant.
Afterall, how do we tell them apart? Who has the power to dictate which life is unimportant? certainly not me. certainly not a 9 yr old boy in the middle of suburbia.
“Lincoln killed Gray’s FISH! OH MY GOD, he killed it!”
That was my cue to get up off the couch I had just settled in after my 12 hr day and making dinner to see what was amok in the livingroom.
I found my son red-handed. Holding the bag, or shall I say bowl. In it? As promised, one very dead fish. Belly up. Assume the position. Good fish.
“I only meant to hold it!” he explained.
“Lincoln! you cannot hold a fish. You hurt it.” I tell him calmly. I bend down and take a desperate once over, hoping for a gill wag or tail flip. Something.
The bowl is deadly calm.
“hum. Well, it does indeed appear to be dead”
“So what?! It is JUST a fish!” Lincoln says.
I turn to him and take his hand, a little less than poised I turn him to me.
“Lincoln! It matters a great deal. This was your brothers fish! He had to work hard to earn the right to have a pet fish! He will be sad that he is dead.”
“Yeah, yeah! so what!”
I stood staring at my child. Autism or not I was appalled that any of my kids would be so nonchalant about a death.
“Fish killer” I said to him.
His eyes grew wide.
“That is right, son, you are a bone fide fish murderer! I hope you are proud of yourself!”
He then looked down, and looked sad. Score one for Mom.
“Lincoln, I know it was not your intention to hurt the fish, it was an accident, but Son, you have to be gentle and you need to listen when people tell you NOT to do something…it is for a good reason”
“Ok MOM. Grayson I am sorry”
And with that, we said our apologies. we hugged in grief and we flushed good-bye to Bob 2. He was a good fish.
The next night I went to a basketball game with one of the kids and did not see Lincoln all day. The next night we had a birthday party at The Rat. Chuck E Cheese.
At the end of the party I asked Lincoln if he wanted to drive home with me (sometimes it is nice to have a little one-on-one with him he is a great car conversationalist if given the spot light) He accepted my offer.
I offered to grab him a burger and me a coffee and as we exited the drive through this perfect little voice broke the silence.
“Mom, are you stlll disappointed with me?”
My heart squeezed tight. So tight I know I couldn’t muster a breath.
“Oh honey! why would think that?”
“Because, I am a fish killer. I killed Graysons fish because I didn’t listen to you”
“Oh Lincoln, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to make you worry about this. I just wanted you to know that it is not ok to kill anything. I love you honey. I’m not mad, just sad it happened.”
“I won’t ever kill a fish again Mom”
I have to admit, I cried.
But when he said that I know that I did not regret my words.
He got the lesson, and he understood that regardless of your intentions you sometimes have to take heed and trust others advice. That life IS precious. Even a Beta fish names BOB 2.
I do regret not being considerate enough to think that perhaps my words would trouble him. I had been unavailable for almost 36 hrs and my poor boy had been troubled about my opinion of him for that time. Maybe he didn’t know how to ask others if I was mad and I didn’t give him the chance to ask me himself, which, BTW I applaud him for being brave enough to be forthright and ask me if I was disappointed.
A lot of adults still can’t do that. A pretty big accomplishment for a child with autism that is supposed to have problems recognizing emotions and voicing them.
I never thought myself to be perfect. I do try to do the best for my kids and every experience I draw strength from and learn from. He shall teach me how to be a better Mom as I try to teach him to be a good boy and great man.