Watching this “Perfect Storm” come and go I had no idea it would leave behind a legacy I could never have planned for. My 13-year-old son watched the news, more enthralled than ever before, more contemplative that I have ever known him. He was troubled, quiet and concerned. But here’s the thing: my son has Aspergers and concern about others is not high on his list of endearing qualities. His world is his world and whole countries could tumble around him and unless it affected his particular field of interest then it could easily go by with a bang, a whimper and a “what’s for dinner?” But not this.
And then the first of many questions came. “Mom, is the world ending?”
“What?” I nearly laughed, but then realized this question was extremely serious to him. Aspergers kids don’t really joke too often and generally asking one question leads to many more, because the first question often indicates the birth of the latest long lasting obsession.
I had sailed through the three year pirate phase with relative ease, thankful of my high school sewing classes, my son morphing seamlessly from Captain Feathersword to Captain Jack Sparrow and I was even more grateful of my Diploma in Dramatic Arts enabling me to play swarthy pirate and damsel in distress with great aplomb, perfecting my perfectionist son’s expectations. I also seemed to pass through the soccer obsession with flying colors, amassing a World Cup’s worth of team jerseys and more statistics on games won and goals scored than I ever cared for. Since then there has been the armed forces obsessions and now biking which I came through almost unscathed although I do bear some pretty long lasting BB gun scars and thankfully there’s now a small gang of 13 year old boys who take care of the biking fetish, so I just have to pick him up when he gets a flat tire and watch endless edits of him doing what looks like the same tricks. Easy stuff these days and much easier than the incurable two year old lumpy sock obsession I won’t even begin to go into but survived noentheless.
But this. How do I deal with this? Because like any adult with a kid on The Spectrum, one question usually comes with more knowledge than any other human can amass in a lifetime of study. And Hollywood, you have some explaining to do.
He took a deep breath and followed that first question with this, “The movie 2012 started with New York flooding a month before the end of the world was predicted and The Mayan calendar has the world ending on December 21st 2012 and some scientists believe there will be a shift in the magnetic force of the earth which will cause wide spread natural disasters resulting in an acute polar shift and the end of the world or catastrophic disasters and well, what are we (hear: YOU) going to do?”
This way surpasses any home doctoring of scraped knees I have ever had to deal with and I am certainly no Jack Bauer so I doubt I could convince him that in some Me Vs The World scenario I would come out on top, so what exactly do I tell him? I have to be frank, I’m stumped.
Now this 72 hour conversation has not stopped, made a little worse by the fact that he is at home sick and bored and trawling the internet which is not really helping me convince him the world is not coming to an end in 51 days, 16 hours, 7 minutes, 22 seconds (from now). In fact the devastation left behind by Sandy has only reinforced his belief that the world is ending because now he is quoting every Hollywood disaster film ever made as gospel. “People are taking boats down the streets of New Jersey and that appeared in this particular film, and now the blizzard is coming in and Will Smith was in that post apocalyptic film……and…,” and well you can guess how the rest of that conversation went.
My first answer is “Well Hollywood films are just that – films, they are not real.” But once again he refers to that blasted 2012 the sky is falling movie. But then he shifts to science and so far we have covered how the dinosaurs became extinct, the Ice Age (Disney you didn’t help me there!) and how the earth would/could survive an “inevitable” natural disaster like the ones in our past and with $200 in our back account, no credit and no car, just what we could actually do about it should something survivable happen.
And an “it’s not going to happen, put it out of your mind” is not going to cut it. Aspergers kids are like well fed cats with mice, he is not going to let this go till December 22nd 2012 and if I know my son well, which I do, this is just the beginning of our own “Perfect Storm”.
So I’ve covered that science and evolution and the history of the earth is often times theory, not proof, I’ve covered that while a lot of people believe in The Mayan calendar, a lot of people don’t. I’ve also covered the Y2K bug and how I worked through it while others went out into the desert and waited to die/survive, and of course just last year some crackpot predicted the end of the world and well, we are still here. But no matter what amount of reasoning he is still left with the, “But Mummy, what if?”
We’ve gone through the tsunami scenario and have a reasonable evacuation plan (nearest tallest safest building), but that doesn’t cover the what if the entire power grid goes down, what if an asteroid crashes to earth, what if there is a polar shift, what if what if what if?
I don’t know. I really don’t.
So I’ve moved on to explaining that in life sometimes we do know when we will go, if we have an illness and have a idea of how long we are to live, we might get to say goodbye, but even that can be wrong. My best friend’s father was told to go home, say good bye to his family and friends and get ready to die. That was 40 years, 15 marathons and 4 beautiful grandchildren ago.
I also explained that when it is time to go it is just time and that is why we must live each day as well as we can, love as purely as we can, forgive those who have wronged us and trust that God/The Universe’s plan is just that – whatever it is. All we can do is do our best. And yes we even ventured down the “Will I go to Heaven and how do we know it even exists” and you can understand why I now have my own mental countdown happening in my head now because this conversation is not going to stop until either the world as we know it does end or we wake up to the next day and then move on to whatever the next obsession will be.
In the meantime we have a new “game” we are playing. If the world is ending I would tell you I love you, I would remember (insert good memory of something we have done) and I will make today great by (insert doing something good for someone).
That’s it for now. It’s the best I can do other than pack a bag of batteries and candles, store some water and some tinned food and know that if I had to survive a disaster of Hollywood proportions, I would channel every bit of Katniss Everdeen I could find and I know without a doubt my mothering instinct would go above and beyond to protect my cub and God help anyone who would try to mess with this Mother Bear, asteroids included.
Any other suggestions welcomed and encouraged.