The Only Son

He never smiles. He never speaks. He looks at me with distrust, as if I were not his mother, as if I had not fed him, clothed him, played with him, given up my life for him. Being rejected by your own child stings like a fire in winter, a cold burn.

He recoils from my touch, pulling his hair in frustration. He points and grunts and then flings himself to the floor when I can’t decipher his secret language.

The doctors have yet to give him a label although the neighbors have. When they see us they retreat to their homes and close their doors, as if their pity were contagious.

The school came recommended by his early intervention therapists, although its smothering attention and barrage of tests may be worse than a mother’s fierce attachment. If he remains at home with me, I will continue to shelter him. If I place him in their care, I may become a stranger to my only son, but I am already a stranger to myself.

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