Ahhh, finally a sunny fall day with a crisp breeze blowing leaves under our crunching footsteps. On the walk home from the bus stop, I decided to put off kids finishing homework until after our evening activities and instead sneak up to the park for some sunny fun.
G spun around and around on the Miracle Round (merry go round), zipping across the park before we even reached to unlatch our seatbelts. He soon grew bored of the slow parental pushing skills, and hopped down to push the little girl, working hard and grunting. The parents saw their opportunity and backed away slowly to sit and cuddle around a cup of java on a nearby bench. I followed suit, minus the java and cuddling partner. My older kids were off doing their own older version of goal-oriented play, mostly chasing and screaming. I was ready for G’s Magical Miracle Round Show.
G “allowed” his little friend to have a turn to push. But after 2 minutes, he harrumphed and slid off, stating matter-of-factly,
“I can push better than you.”
Those classic autism (anti)social skills in action. Aghast, I covered my face. I peeked through fingers when I heard no response.
The patient girl jumped on and waited for him to push. 2-way tolerance! Yippee! G happily pushed for several minutes, jumping on now and then to enjoy the ride himself. I began to watch the leaves, settling back into the cold metal bench.
G jumped off at last and said, “C’mon!” to his little friend. She followed him around on a few playground activities before they approached the standing Teeter-Totter of Horror. Yes, this equipment is many times more dangerous than an old-fashioned teeter-totter, which was deemed too hazardous in most playgrounds many years ago. It’s tons of fun, until someone gets hurt. You can almost feel the collective cringe, hear the small gasp of breath, jaw clenching from caregivers in the park when children climb up to ride this fun monster (I mean toy). I walked over to supervise, worried that G would jump off and send her careening down/off, interrupting her adorably huddled parents. No worries. The pair teetered calmly.
The girl said, “We have one of these, but not really one of these at my playground where I come from.”
I asked, “Oh you don’t live here?”
“Nope, I live all the way in (her town).”
I laughed, thinking how a town 10 miles away can seem a lifetime of waiting in the car for a child. In Michigan, it could take an hour, winding around lakes, parks and farms. She then recited her address to us, which made me shudder. This openness was both good and bad, in the realm of Stranger Danger.
??? I quizzically wondered where this random thought came from. My brain went into hyper-G-search mode, whisking about for G translation like a scientist figuring out a formula for a teeter totter launch, considering all the variables, testing theories. In the field, a child waiting, no calculator.
Enjoyment = Sunshine?
Enjoyment = Park Visit?
Enjoyment = Teeter Totter?
Enjoyment = His New Friend?
Or was it all of it? He can be amazingly profound. Other times, completely nonsensical. My job was deciphering which was which, when was when, who was who. What? Where’ my magic wand?
Helpless, I finally asked, “You’re having fun?”
The sweet girl looked up just as my brow crinkled and corrected, “Madison.”
Madison was medicine. She happily played with my funny G, ignoring his differences, patiently asserting herself when necessary.
Once again, I learn from G to simplify. I often try so hard to figure out his meaning, his motivation, his emotion, his needs…that I forget to sit back and let it work itself out. My panic comes from years of anticipating his movement as a whirling dervish, playing offense to his meddling curiosity and scenes of a search team spreading out to find our lightning speed escapist. With G calmer, less impulsive, I can chill a bit. I can attempt to match, to compare, to meld his reality to mine, but why frustrate myself?
Maybe it’s the artist, the poet, the wordsmith in me trying to stretch his words to fit a deeper meaning, a stronger insight into his inner workings. Our autistic kids aren’t cookie cutter, in fact I believe most NT kids aren’t either. We just try to squeeze them in where they fit, categorize them neatly – or mold them to an ideal we’ve created. Admit it, we do it even with ourselves. I can’t seem to find my fit, I’m always changing, evolving. Life is too transient, disposable – to settle in and fit comfortably (or I’m AD/HD myself, teehee).
My strong constant is my ever-present bond with my kids; our common denominator, love.
I always seem to simplify to this equation:
Magic = Love