My wife, Cynthia, the practical one in the family, has dealt with this issue by tracking down a suitable book to read with Jonah. “What’s Happening to Me?” is a primer for boys going through puberty. With chapters like “Getting Hairy,” and “Down There …,” it’s straightforward and cheerful. But I’m still not sure it addresses Jonah’s real issue: which is not why is all this happening to him but why does it have to happen? In other words, why can’t everything go back to the way it was?
As the impractical one in the family, I’m ignoring all the puberty stuff – a convenient strategy, I’ll admit – and taking the philosophical high road. When Jonah asks me why he can’t be little again, I tell him that’s just the way life is. Jonah remains skeptical. He doesn’t come out and say it, but I can guess what he’s thinking: “That’s not fair!” And he’s right; it isn’t. Who wouldn’t want to stop time if they could, or just slow it down a little?
I’ve also been telling Jonah not to worry about the future since that’s what is really behind his concern about getting taller. He’s worried about the special challenges he already senses await him. Here, too, my advice isn’t helpful or especially credible. When you’re the parent of a child growing up with autism, worry is all you do. You’d be crazy not to.