Friday, November 30, 2012

Variations on a Common Theme

I must confess that I was smiling as I watched. If it had been Andrew’s birthday, I would have scolded him for his behavior. I would have been apologetic.

But with David, everyone was amused as we watched him rip greedily into a package, tearing just enough of the wrapping paper to reveal whether or not it was the coveted Hot Wheels Color Shifters Car Wash playset and then casting it aside before moving on to another brightly wrapped package.

Until now, David has never really asked for anything for his birthday or Christmas. He has not shown much interest in new toys. He has been content to make do with what he already has.

I was the one who had suggested a new car wash for his birthday because, when I had asked him what he wanted for his birthday his response was almost always, “I want to drink milk on my birthday.”

And as I watched him, I couldn’t help but think of phrases like “indistinguishable from his peers” and “typical.”

David was being, well, normal and for the moment I was pleased.

But every so often I have to wonder if we all shouldn’t take a cue from David.

Why did it bother me that David was perfectly happy with all of the stuff he already had and didn’t really want—and certainly did not need—any new stuff?

There is so much talk in the world of autism about “the window” and pulling these kids through it, but sometimes I need to stop and look at the world from David’s vantage point because I have to admit that, at times, the view from where he is standing can be pretty spectacular.

Monday, November 5, 2012

There's a New Sheriff in Town

It is well documented that my soon to be 16-year-old nephew, Thomas, is a favorite jungle gym, tackling dummy, sparring partner and all around fun guy to soon to be 8-year old David.
You will please note that I did not mention authority figure on that list.
Saturday was Thomas' first night babysitting for us, a job normally reserved for his sister, Katie, who is almost halfway through her junior year of college at a school located approximately 500 miles from us which has left us, as of late, sitterless.
Until Saturday.
Michael and I decided to try a neighborhood restaurant.  I told David that we were going to dinner and would be back in time for bath and bedtime and that he was to stay with Thomas and Andrew.
"And ANNIE?" he inquired, wondering if my sister would be coming over, as well.  Thomas noted the somewhat anxious look on David's face.
I am happy to report that Michael and I had a wonderful, leisurely dinner and all survived the less than 90 minutes that we were gone.  Thomas has agreed to babysit again.  Andrew is pleased he made a few dollars for "helping" although the word on the street is that he mainly "helped" to wind David up.
And David, poor confused David learned a important lesson.  Sometimes Thomas is in charge and if he tells you that he will take away the SpongeBob ball if you throw it one more time AND you proceed to throw it one more time, you just may find yourself without the SpongeBob ball.
A valuable lesson, indeed.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sympathetic Words

Just about the time that I begin to think I have one too many things on my plate, I do something really talented like fling myself out my front door and onto the concrete of the porch.

I am not even sure how it happened, but I was carrying a window screen that was dusty and needed to be cleaned.  The boys were playing basketball on the driveway, so I must have looked up at precisely the wrong time.
I do remember thinking SHE’S GOING DOWN and, just before I hit the concrete, I managed to do a quick scan to see how many neighbors were about to witness the spectacle. (Please do not even ask why I think of myself in the third person when I am about to do something really embarrassing, but I do.)
I landed right in the middle of the potted mum plants, and Andrew and David came running.
I tried to quickly survey the situation--a burnish on my right palm, a skinned knee, and a big goose egg had already formed on the outside of my twisted left ankle.
The boys came running and I started to cry when I realized that I wasn’t sure if I could get up without help.
Andrew said, “I’ll go get Dad.”
And David, after a moment of hesitation, announced “I go get a tissue.”
Have you ever heard such beautiful words?  I appreciate that Andrew ran quickly to get help, correctly surmising that Michael would be the best suited to hoist me up off of the front porch.
But, today I am thankful that David can be sympathetic when I am hurt.  He pays attention to how I am feeling and tries to help, in his own way.  Not all kids with autism can do that.
I will be fine.  The doctor said nothing is broken.
And then called back to say maybe something is just a little bit broken.
But it will heal with time.
I am sorry to report that the mums, however, did not survive the ordeal.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Getting my Exercise

Somehow, when I click the "publish" button, I never imagine that it will be days, weeks, or in some cases months before I publish another post.
For me, it seems that writing is like exercising or having a healthy diet. I feel better when I do it, but if I get out of the habit, it is easy to put it off just another day. I sometimes wonder what difference it really makes if I ever type another word to send out into cyberspace.
I have been doing a little bit of writing, just the old fashioned way with a pencil and paper.
I have been taking pictures--with my phone because I returned the beautiful Canon digital SLR camera that I had borrowed for a while, and when David doesn't erase my pictures to make room for his videos of assorted car washes and interstate overpasses, I sometimes even get a chance to download the pictures onto my computer.
And, although I may not have put it out there for all the world (or my seven faithful readers) to see, I have been trying to take some time each day to think of something for which I am thankful, a habit that I have tried to instill in the boys as I inquire about their day.
It is a practice that comes naturally to David. He continually finds things that make him happy and I simply need to take a lesson, to slow down and pay attention like he does and try not to be annoyed as I crunch a leaf into a million pieces reaching for my keys in my purse, the very same perfect red leaf that David retrieved and shoved into my purse just yesterday on the way into swimming lessons that had caught his attention as it scratched across the sidewalk in the wind.
I will be back tomorrow. And, I will try to spend the month of Thanksgiving, well, giving thanks and being content--waiting, watching, listening.