Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dirt Boy

I've never been a super outdoorsy type a girl. But recently, I've been giving it a shot. Why you ask, she who loves heels, skirts, cafes, books, etc.? Because I think it's really, really good for Henry.

I just read a beautiful book about a boy with autism whose father seeks healing on the backs of horses in Mongolia. Horse Boy is a must read for anyone who is or wants to understand what it's like to be a parent of a nontypical child. Seriously. Go read it. Really.

But it also really inspired me to get outside with Henry. He has always been somewhat calmed down with a soft breeze or by listening to birds, watching bugs or collecting rocks. It's odd, because indoors, the physical sensation of having dirt or water on him normally sends him into a tailspin. But not outdoorsy dirt. (see above photo for proof). I don't get it-but it works.

While hiking the other day, he was confident, energetic, adventurous. He was everything he is without the fear and worry of his senses misfiring. He embraced the world out in it's true nature. The real world was his for the taking.

We just recently moved to a new town, with a new house, new friends, a new job, and now, a new (and his first ever) preschool/daycare situation. I am, admittedly, freaking out about it. But maybe Dirt Boy is also Preschool Boy. I'm not going to be the one to decide for him.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

An Open Letter to the Respectable Public

Lately I’ve noticed a few more of your longer-than-necessary glances in our direction when I’m out with my son, Henry. I’d like to say that it’s his magnetic smile and attractive wardrobe, but I’m afraid that’s not always the reason. It seems that my son’s sensory behavior has been capturing a bit more of your attention than it used to. For instance, you look slightly puzzled when he lays down on the booth in restaurants, concerned when he clings to me with his head buried in my neck during fireworks, uncomfortable when he can’t respond to, “What’s your name?” Unfortunately, I don’t often have the time, energy, or relationship to explain to you that he doesn’t like the way his back feels when he sits, that the noise of Independence Day probably makes his head feel like it’s going to explode, and that his tongue and lips don’t often cooperate with his brain.
Perhaps it’s becoming more obvious that something in particular is going on with Henry since he’s looking older these days. No longer a mischievous and understandably crabby toddler, but a tall, almost 3 year old boy headed to…preschool?
Frankly, I myself am a woman who deep down prefers to be admired and understood, heck, ignored rather than critiqued, so this is understandably unpleasant. You see, good people of the public who perhaps wisely raise an eyebrow at me, the mother who can’t or hasn’t or doesn’t care to teach her child proper manners, I’ve got a great narrative to share if you let me explain. I could tell you about the swell of my heart to the point of stretching and breaking that happens darn near every mealtime, bath time, car ride, and bedtime. I could tell you about how many referrals, doctors, tests, and insurance journeys I’ve traveled barefoot and thirsty. I could tell you about fears and worries and missed appointments and missed milestones. I’ve got a really good story.
So while part of me wants to explain all this so you won’t judge or hide out at home so you won’t notice, instead I’ll try to focus on us. And the way his father and sister cheer and jump up and down when he eats one bite of hot dog or gets a word just right. And the way he responds to praise, parading like a peacock when he successfully completes a puzzle. And the way that the struggles have brought us all nearer in spirit to each other and to those who love us.
So, upright citizens, it actually isn’t that significant or important to me that you understand this, but my kid’s not misbehaving. He’s doing his best to figure out this world and sometimes it seems like I’m right there with him. I’ve got a really good story because it’s both an adventure and a love story. And, as I’m sure you know, all that matters for a good ending is that the main characters never give up on each other.
Yours truly, Mom