My darling Eldest is home for the holidays.

He is growing well, I am ever so proud of him.

He is having a hard time, and mental illness is hovering over him, but he is able to relax at home for the first time in years.

Yet the reality of Asperger’s syndrome, or autism, or whatever name you give the neuro developmental condition that defines so much of who he is remains ever present.

At the slightest hint of confusion, or the mere idea that he may be asked to do something not of his choosing, he changes.  His non compliance makes a joke of that phrase, his utter closure to anyone in his environs is staggering, and his emotional distress is all encompassing.

The impact on the other children (not to mention Darling Man and Myself – both Me Within and Me Without) is such that I am at a loss to describe it.

This afternoon, we asked our dear boy to have a shower… an innocuous enough request especially given that it happens every single day at the same time.

For the following two hours… no, three hours, our entire family including grandparents suffered a state of hostage like proportions.  Dinner became a bitty, camp fire affair as each person tried to find time and emotional space to get a bite to eat; Little Man was denied a good night hug from his big brother and required a cuddle from Mum while he tried to control his tears and emotion; Sweet Girl was overcome by panic, worry and sadness and needed a vast amount of support to eat a little something and control that anxiety enough to eventually go to bed an hour late, pale and exhausted; Grandparents stayed as little as they could.

Darling Man tip toed gently around Eldest all this time, not so much to get the boy washed as to bring him back to what we affectionately call “the real world”… using up his limited supply of patience, calm and diplomacy.

I was told by both my Eldest and Darling Man that I should stay away – I had, it seems, inadvertently caused some confusion and was thus “the baddie”.

Eventually I was able to sit with Eldest and find that saner place.  We fed him, and finally, eventually, four hours after the first request, Darling Man talked him through a shower.

The evening concluded in rather typical fashion, with a friendly viewing of a silly film, Eldest not really the wiser for the trail of emotional destruction in his wake.

The rest of us will pick up the pieces in the morning and try to rebuild… once again…