Body Integrity

Martin’s Lyme treatment makes him sensory-seeking, and I am his target.

He grabs hold and squeezes—puts me in headlocks, wraps his arms around my waste, tugs my arms, hops onto my back and chokes me.

His hands are in my hair—pulling my ponytail, removing the elastic, dividing locks into temporary pigtails, transferring whatever is stuck between his fingers (say, peanut butter, or coconut shreds) to my scalp. I don’t have great hair to begin with. Now it’s a downright disaster.

He headbutts my back, my arms, my torso, even my head when he can. It hurts. Then he rolls his head against me, hard. Back and forth. Back and forth. It is winter, and the air is dry. Sometimes his hair shocks me.

He wipes his nose on me, regardless of whether it needs wiping. I prefer when it doesn’t.

He climbs into my and Adrian’s bed and attempts to burrow. Once he gets part of himself wedged under me, he starts to kick.

He stands atop my feet.

He sits next to me and puts his head in my lap. That is fine, until he starts trying to do a headstand. If I flip him upright, he climbs onto the back of the sofa. From there, he headbutts me. See details, above.

When he does these things, he clenches his jaw, as if he cannot get enough sensory input. Occasionally he raises his arm, tightens the muscles, looks scared and uncertain, and brings his hand down to hit me—not hard, not intentionally, more like a slowed-in-air tap, unable to stop himself. In return, I hug him tightly.

I love my son. I love having him near me. But this is getting old.

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(Martin, on the campus of Stanford University, last weekend. Only ten years till he applies for admission.)

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(Martin, rocking the spectrum at We Rock the Spectrum training facility in Berkeley, California. He rock-climbs much better when wearing sneakers. Also, I forgot to bring his Cal State Golden Bear sweatshirt, so he was wearing Stanford Cardinal red, in Berkeley. Faux pas!)

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