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Royal Reporter

"The freshmen fifteen"
December 2, 2008

Know what I've discovered? Sons who come home from college for the first time from a great distance get treated like movie stars. Sons who come home from college who have autism get treated like royalty.

I was throwing a birthday party for my youngest son, Helio, Friday night. He's so popular, the party place was bursting to the gills with both 7th grade girls and boys. I did my usual balancing act between trying to be a cool mom and a drill sergeant. But part of my mind wasn' t there at all. Connor was heading home that night from Florida. Would he find the right terminal at the giant Orlando Airport? Would he find the right gate? Would he even attempt to board the correct airline?

He's flown a lot with his family but kind of cruised through the whole airport thing and you have to TEACH Connor the vocabulary for everything. He won't pick it up by osmosis. So the language of air travel-- we just weren't sure he was fluent.

We'd tutored him, of course. We pointing things out the last couple of times we vacationed. But when I talked to him on the phone Thursday night, it seemed like all that preparation had gone somewhere in his brain that no one (including himself) could access.

So, after a very confusing and somewhat troubling phone conversation the night before, I just gave up and told him good luck and I would see him tomorrow night. (Maybe.)
Of course he did just fine. Proving once again he doesn't need me or his father to guide him through life EVERY step. There are still some things... but I have to become increasingly more picky about when I get in his soup and when I back off.

So he's home. And he is so happy. This is a guy who never really loved going to camp when he was little, or sleepovers . He liked family vacations but always breathed a sigh of relief when he came home. Home is safe for him. Home is comfort in a challenging and stressful world. He doesn't have to try so hard at home. He doesn't have to manage chaos at home. He quickly put his warm, comfy robe and slippers on and I fully expect he won't take them off until it's time for him to head back to college.

He's thin. Too thin. He says he doesn't like the cafeteria food at his college. He has a kitchen in his apartment and he knows how to cook a few things but he's certainly not getting three squares a day. As I recall, most first year kids put on weight. "The freshmen fifteen" we used to call it. Not Connor. He's not starving so I'm not going to freak out but maybe we'll learn to make a few more easy things in the kitchen before he heads back.

It's been a crazy fall with all the changes at work. As much Soap Opera on screen as off. Change is upon us. Nothing I can really do about it. So many new challenges in our business. There are meetings and memos and budgets and lists and numbers being crunched... and the leadership of the show is doing their best. No matter what you think of what's going on, you have to know that.

But the sands are still running through the hourglass. That's a very good thing. And my son is home. That is a very, very good thing.

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