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If Only

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Last night my son asked me to sit and watch Blue’s Clue’s with him before bed.   I sat next to him on the couch, and he asked me to move closer, “so we can cuddle.”

I did.  I put my arm around him and caressed his head, like I’ve done since he was a baby.  It was a habit I’d had since he was big enough to sit up.

I don’t know why just then the question came to mind.  I asked him, “does it bother you when I rub your head?”


My breath caught in my throat. 

“Does it hurt you when I do that?”

“No.  It just bothers me.”

“Thank you for telling me that.  I don’t want to do something that bothers you, so I won’t do it anymore.”

“Okay.  Will you hug me, though?”


My son has a very good vocabulary, and speaks in full sentences.  But sometimes the idea to say something, and the ability to put together the right words, with the right tone, isn’t there.

I felt a pain inside.  Because it doesn’t occur to him to find the words to say that it bothers him.  And because he’s almost six years old, and I just now thought to ask.  When he was younger, he had a lot of sensory issues.  If only I’d thought to ask this question back then.

All this time, my boy with the quick temper never told me that my touching his head bothered him.  I wonder how many things he holds inside, that nobody knows about.

And I hope that someday he comes to a place where he is finally able to express those feelings, rather than enduring years of something he finds unpleasant.

I’m so glad I finally asked.


About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

11 responses »

  1. I’d like to think it wasn’t all that unpleasant as he would have chucked you away ages ago, do you think??? At least that’s what A does…if he really hates something he quashes it. Right away. Mildly annoying, not so much, he’ll put up with it. Maybe you were just mildly annoying? And I mean that in the nicest of ways. I think you’re anything but.

  2. I’m with Lizbeth. I think if it was that bad, he would not have put up with it for so long. This is a beautiful moment between the two of you. It’s so obvious that he did not said anything because he loves you so much he wants you to hold him and “baby” him – especially since he asked about the hugs. 🙂

  3. I agree with Karen and Lizbeth. Don’t beat yourself up over it. My guess is it was only “mildly annoying” or else he wouldn’t have tolerated it for as long as he did. Maybe he thought it was worth tolerating so that he could ge the hugs.

  4. Been there, done that. My son was diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome just a few months ago at age 12. After we found out I asked him if his leg hurt at night. He said no, that it was just uncomfortable. I asked him why he never told me, and he said, “You never asked.”

  5. Yep. That’s Julia. There’s so much going on in her head. You can see it, but she just doesn’t have the words. She has a great vocabulary, but there’s just so much she can articulate. I so totally feel you on this. And just like all the others have said, don’t be hard on yourself for this. You’re doing a great job. Now you know. So we take that and continue forward. 🙂 ((()))

  6. Pingback: What we didn’t know. | Life in the House That Asperger Built

  7. I agree with you. It wasn’t until the last 2 years that we learned that our son was finally diagnosed with Aspergers, he is 12. I often wonder how many things we could have made easier for him in his younger years. My heart hurts like yours. I guess all we can do is be grateful that we know what we know NOW and can make those things better. Hugs. 🙂

  8. You’re doing such a good job with him. He wants to be close to you and is considering your feelings, maybe? My son will swat me away if he doesn’t like something. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doing so much better than you think you are.

  9. I love this post and Lizbeth’s and Karen’s comments. I’m sure they’re right. I also sent the picture to my in laws since they’d asked for a few pointers on autism. I sent them that and the 10 things every child with autism wishes you knew…


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