I chose to post on October 9th for a reason. Today is my brother Aaron’s seventeenth birthday. As you all read this, I’m probably on my way over to my parents’ so that I can spend some time with him on his day. Will I succeed? Maybe, maybe not. He tends to be locked into his computer for most of the time he’s awake, which is normally at night. But I’ll try, because I know deep down he’ll be crushed if I don’t.
Seventeen years ago, I sat with my grandmother and my dad in a hospital waiting room, waiting for the doctor to come in and tell us that the c-section my mom had so purposefully scheduled exactly one month after my ninth birthday was over and that mom and baby were all right. I do remember that the room was rather tiny, and that the TV was showing something that I didn’t want to watch (which irritated me because I knew I couldn’t change the channel). My grandma was wearing her work clothes so that she could head to her job at the county’s Association of Realtors, and I had my backpack so I could be taken to my elementary school and do normal third-grade things. It seemed ridiculously late to me, but it always does when you know school has started and you’re not there yet.
When the doctor finally came in, Polaroid in hand (I had asked him to take one for me since I couldn’t be in there with my mother), he originally told me it was a girl. Having been told I was having a brother for months, I was greatly confused, but cottoned on rather quickly when he laughed. We went to the recovery room to see my mom before we left, but I’m not sure if she remembers that thanks to the anaesthesia and spinal tap. My dad began to feed her ice chips, and my grandmother and I left. My teacher, of course, asked why I was late to school. I didn’t answer; I just held up the picture and she told me to go sit down. I put it in the little wooden block that held my name card, and it stayed there or the rest of the school year. I was, and still am, a proud big sister.
When he was in kindergarten, they had him tested for ADD, and they diagnosed it as positive. They put him on medication for it, and it did seem to mellow him. He hated the taste and would spit out the remaining water on the floor after he swallowed. He was on it for years until he was old enough to tell my parents that he hated not only the taste, but how it made him physically feel. They took him off of the medication and it seemed to improve his attitude. He wasn’t as angry and he was able to sleep. His appetite improved, although he always had/has been skinny as a rail. He could deal with it, we reasoned, and it would be horrible to make him take a medicine that caused him to feel that way.
Middle school was horrible for him. He had very few friends, and he was awkward around the girls that he liked. Aside from that, he was doing poorly in classes because he was bored and felt like he knew the important stuff; everything else was useless. After he failed seventh grade, they worried. When he did very little to try and pass this time, they came to the conclusion that homeschooling him online was probably the better idea. He hasn’t been back into a classroom since.
When my cousin Jonathan was diagnosed with autism, my lovely aunt did a lot of research on the subject. She showed us the traits of Asperger’s Syndrome, and a level of comprehension hit: my brother was not ADD. More than likely, he was misdiagnosed and, like my cousin, autistic (although different diagnoses). He still doesn’t know – my mom hasn’t mentioned it to him, and they don’t have the means to get him tested and diagnosed, and I could kick her for not doing it while she had the chance.
Overall, though, he is an everyday teenage boy (albeit a very trying one at times). Like me and my dad, he has a deep musical appreciation. I introduced him at a young age to anime, and he is in love with it. Aside from homeschooling, he is like every other teenager. He still does not have many friends, and fewer that are actually worth their salt, but he has them nonetheless. He plays guitar and drums and keyboard, and is always trying to joke despite the fact that most of what he says isn’t funny. He has his moments, but who doesn’t? And he has grown into a caring, intelligent boy who has learned to think about others as well as himself. The situation may be a bit unorthodox, but it works. And today, he takes one step closer to becoming the adult that I can hardly believe he will be sooner than later.
I love you, little brother. And I hope your future is as bright as I have imagined it since the day I first held you in our mother’s hospital room.