This weekend, we had a scare with my brother. Like many of us, he really struggles to communicate when he’s frustrated (imagine yourself during a fight with a significant other – that amazing comeback?! Yeah, comes to you about 5 minutes after the disagreement, right?!). Unlike many of us though, my brother’s inability to communicate is a result of his autism.
So last week, he really wanted to buy this lunchbox. Your run-of-the-mill, standard lunchbox – though it was pink! – was, to my brother, an obsession. Something he had to have, even though it was going to cost him his entire week’s pay – $13.50. (An average to low salary, even for my brother, who enjoys taking ‘vacation days’ more than the average bloke.)
So he made the decision – buy the lunchbox and forgo dinner out on Friday night. This was a great decision…on Thursday. But when Friday came around, to say there was ‘buyer’s remorse’ would be an understatement. He regretted the decision, hated the lunchbox, and wanted nothing more than to go to Taco Bell.
The staff that helps my brother is always told to ‘pick their battles’ – which is just a nice way of saying there are a lot of battles. This staff on Friday evening, God bless her, didn’t even realize she was picking a battle when she started suggesting all of the ‘free’ food my brother could eat at home.
Needless to say, my brother went 0 to 60 in a split second. The details are fortunately not grim – a push here, some angry words there – but a lot of people went through a roller coaster of emotions that night, myself included.
As I was (indescribably) anxiously awaiting results from the evening’s ‘battle,’ I was reminded about why I do what I do. My relationship with my brother has never been standard – in one single situation, he can make me feel so immensely angry and so unconditionally loving. He pushes me to understand situations in an ‘out-of-the-box’ way, and he challenges me to help him work through his autism, rather than use it as an excuse for his behaviors.
This blog won’t be all about my brother or his autism because I know there is more to life than that. But everything I do is shaped by that, by him. So thanks, bro, for making me who I am…I love you, you brat.