"Max, you know to look both ways when you cross the street, right?"
Max sat in the passenger seat and stared stonily ahead, ignoring me. At his request, I was driving him to the fire station—his favorite place in town—so he could walk home from there. He'd done it once before, in October. There's a big intersection he has to cross on the way home, and it worries me.
"C'mon, Max, answer me. You're going to look both ways, right?"
Max stared at me.
"Si!" he said.
I burst out laughing, and so did he.
"OK, Max, just be really careful about looking for cars when you cross that big street.
He didn't answer.
Letting your adult child with disabilities grow into independence is partly a matter of their maturity, and partly a matter of your own. Max is sensible. He knows his way around the neighborhood. In fact, neighbors look out for him. Still, parental anxiety gets the best of me, especially my concern that he could trip and fall. Max is steady on his feet but it happens on occasion, when pavement is uneven.
"Hey, Max, what's your address?
Max gave me another look.
"Los Angeles!" he said.
Again, I cracked up. He was mocking my anxiety, and really, who could blame him?
I talked a little bit more about how cars sometimes speed through that intersection as he pretended not to listen, though I knew he was. I let him out of the car at the fire station, waved goodbye, took off and watched him IN my rearview mirror until I couldn't see him anymore.
A half hour went by. Forty-five minutes. I called his Apple watch; no response. I was about to get in the car when he showed up at our doorstep. He'd taken the long way home.
"Mommy! I want to take another walk!" he said after he used the bathroom.
"OK, see you soon," I said.
I watched him head down our front steps, and I tried to let go.