NB: This post contains inappropriate and offensive language.
Being aged 15 and a 1/2, Brendon was that wonderful mix of Aspergers and raging puberty that makes you want to run away to a remote cottage in Cornwall or commit mass homicide. As only a Mother of an aspie kid will know, the world just doesn’t give you enough credit for the amount of shit you have to endure.
His sister Bryony was 14 going on 20 and though also raging with hormones, was on the whole, a well behaved, regular kid. Their Dad was Karl. Karl Rhodes. Sorry, I should say “Rhodes, Karl Rhodes” because that’s how he said it when anyone asked his name.
“Do you think you’re James Bond or something?” I once asked as he delivered his moniker to a salesman.
“It helps people remember your name if you say it like that, Sophie.” He replied.
Karl was a very enigmatic man and a social chameleon. He could hold an audience with people from all walks of life and fit right in; everybody loved him instantly. It seemed to be more important that everybody else thought he was marvellous than actually being marvellous at home and though he professed undying love and commitment, he did so like he was reading from a script. We had children early on in our relationship as he apparently ‘loved kids’ whereas I was more than a little hesitant. Turned out I was the one who found the all giving, life committing bond with our offspring and he found it all too much of a hassle and interference. Of course Brendons behaviour hadn’t helped. Aspergers has a way of altering that idealistic set up. Holidays were always fraught and life at home was most times, demanding and chaotic. It was difficult to stay a strong united front but even more so when you had different ideas on how to deal with Aspergic defiance and thuggery. Their relationship was always a slight groan off volcanic eruption and It didn’t help that Brendon thought his Dad was a dick.
“ What have you ever done for me?” Go on... name it.. NAME IT!” Brendon shouted at his Father one Saturday afternoon. “ Did you teach me to ride my bike? No, that was Mum.. Did you ever stop to listen to how I felt? No...’cos you know everything... Did you ever spend time playing with me...No, not really. You’ve basically done fuck all as a parent!”
“ Who do you think you are, you silly little boy” Karl mocked “I put food on the table, give you a house to live in and you are an abusive and cocky little shit.”
“Please don’t say that” I whispered harshly at Karl “You’re the adult remember, that won’t help.”
Neither one listened to me as I pleaded for them both to walk away from each other; they were both heightened with rage and an inbuilt desire to win no matter the consequence.
“You’re a fucking dick, stay out of my way!” shouted Brendon “Asshole.”
Despite being English, Brendon tended to talk, shout and spell in American due to the amount of time he spent on his computer. He was an IT genius and the world wide web was his life. His huge table downstairs sat with 3 flat screen monitors and a state of the art computer on it. This was his pride and joy and the only thing that could be used as a threat against his behaviour.
Karl marched through the room into my study, which sat at the side of Brendons Starship Enterprise and ripped out the router, instantly killing the internet. No internet equals no games. No games equals MELTDOWN.
“ Give me that back now or I’ll break ALL your stuff.” Brendon’s eyes were black and his breathing rapid and shallow. I could see he was about to flip out.
“Touch anything of mine and I will take everything you own and dump it at the tip” growled an outraged Karl.
“Stop, please stop. STOP NOW!” I wailed, knowing it was futile but trying nonetheless.
Brendon flew at his Dad and pushed him hard. He was 6’2” at this age and weighed 15 stone, most of which was pure muscle from rigorous training. He was a big lad and not easily controllable, particularly when in meltdown mode. Karl grabbed him in a head lock to stop him. They wrestled together and banged into my bookcase. My antique bookcase, full of lovely books, but what did they care. It teetered precariously on it’s carved feet and the the glass doors flung open spewing books to the floor. The doors slammed shut as they bounced into it again causing one to shatter. Splinters of glass lay shiny and menacing on the carpet. I ran over and tried to prize them apart, screaming and begging them to stop. Pictures bounced from walls as they danced their way round the room, pushing and shoving, their wooden frames and fronts splitting all over the floor.
“MUM!” I heard a shout in the hall. It was Bryony.
I ran to the hall to see my frightened girl, crying and trembling. “Make them stop, it’s scaring me.” she whimpered.
“Put on your shoes and go outside to my car,” I spoke calmly. “ I’ll be there in a minute.”
I ran back to the room where the shouting and cursing had increased. My room looked like it had been burgled. “ WHY WON’T YOU STOP?” I screamed pulling at Karl's t-shirt. “You’re both scaring Bryony and me.” I yelled, tears pricking my eyes. Despite my efforts, once enraged there was nothing I could do. I didn’t have the physical strength to part them and my pleas were like whispers in a gale.
“MUM, TELL HIM TO GET THE FUCK OFF ME”
“Karl let him go and let him go right now!” I pleaded, pushing at his shoulder.
“I’ll let him go when he stops coming at me, when he learns to be respectful and knows his goddam place” he grunted through gritted teeth as he pushed Brendon to the floor.
I was at a loss and torn between helping my son, stopping a fight and rescuing my traumatised daughter outside in the car. I burst into tears through the stress and frustration and made the decision to leave. I went to my car physically shaking and wiped my tears away with the sleeve of my jumper. I had to play this down in front of Bryony and look like I had at least some element of control.
I slipped into the drivers seat and reached over to hug her as she cried into my shoulder, her long, curly brown hair sticking to my jumper like ribbons of velcro.
“Why do they do this? Why won’t Dad just walk away? I don’t like it when they fight it scares me. It scares my friends when they come over.” she sobbed.
“I know. It’s stupid” I agreed rubbing her back “Don’t worry, it’s part of what we have to deal with in this family. I will always look after you. They’re just having a battle of control, it will sort itself out, it always does” I smiled faintly.
“Let’s go get an ice cream!” I suggested to her blotchy, tear stained face. I saw a glimmer of safety return in her grey eyes as I started the car. All the way to the shop I was praying to God and other mystical beings that Brendon and Karl wouldn’t kill or harm each other. I was praying and wishing so hard it hurt me to breathe.