Overheard

I really do wish that women’s jeans weren’t styled to be so form-fitting or that more dresses and skirts came with pockets. I forget at least a dozen things I overhear or read in a day. They slip through, no matter how hard I work to remember them. I have a little black notebook, but where to put it? I don’t carry a purse when I walk places (and I walk a lot of places). There’s my iPhone, but I’m not entirely comfortable typing on that little screen. I doubt I ever will be. Too much slipping around, and I don’t have small hands.

So I understand why John didn’t want to carry his while traipsing around our area amusement park with Jonah on Wendesday (two free tickets!), but I miss what I didn’t get to see, or hear for that matter. It was Jonah’s first ride-a-thon. We were unsure if the roller coasters would completely freak him out or be his best thing ever. Being such a well-rounded emotional creature, Jonah experienced them as both.

His very first coaster was the Millennium Force. With an initial 80 degree drop, it clocks in at a respectable 93 mph and has been voted one of the best steel coasters in the world. Jonah is 7. Did I say he has never ridden a coaster before? And this was His choice. Granted, as they were pulling out of the station he mentioned, “I’m not sure if this is a good idea.” I just watched the YouTube video, and the height alone left me feeling dizzy and terrified.

But Jonah’s a thrill seeker, so on they went. One coaster they rode four times in a row, continually. No line. (That’s the one that left John with the headache he couldn’t shake for the rest of the day.) Only one ride—a particularly rough coaster that throws you around—truly freaked J out. “I don’t think this is very interesting!” he shouted at John, mid-ride. This is where I can hear G interject (he picked up the line from J, who picked up the line from some show he watches), “That is going to Hurt tomorrow!”

Before and after the day, Jonah told his dad something to the effect of, “Today/Yesterday is like a birthday.” I’m sure their pre-coaster trip to Dunkin’ Donuts and after-coaster trip to McDonald’s intensified the feeling.

G and I stayed home that day, except when we walked to the grocery store. It was muggy and hot. I came home all loose-limbed and salty—one of my favorite feeling. I made myself a margarita on the very cheap (gluten free beer and limeade) and felt entirely refreshed in an exhausted kind of way. G slept while walking, shopping, walking home, and then a good half hour parked in our front room near the AC.

Our good friend Kelsey watched G in the morning while I worked in my office. I got so much done. Not even having the option of a car seems to relieve me of a certain need to “make plans.” I hate making plans. I get all defensive and weird when people ask me about my plans. I certainly have plans in my head, but there’s something in me that doesn’t want to tell you, or anyone. I can be a real pain in the ass to live with. Witness list: parents, sisters, roommates (I’ve only had one—that should tell you something), husband.

Anyway, G got his special surprise when John walked in with a carnival sized one-eyed minion from Despicable Me. He carried it with him everywhere for days. Hearing him shout “I forgot my minion!” while he was getting ready for bed made me want to write a children’s book.

[Speaking of children’s books, check out Nobody’s Diggier than a Dog, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Beppe Giacobbeour. Short excerpt: Nobody’s diggier than a dog– / a bury-a-bone-dog, / a shake-a-paw dog. / Nobody’s piggier than a dog– / a dribble-drool, / toilet-drink, / breathy-stink dog.]

That same night, or maybe it was the next, G awoke in an empty bed (a somewhat freakish occurrence around here) and came stumbling down the hall to our bedroom wimpering, “Daddy, you awn’t theay. You fweaked me out.” It was the sweetest, saddest thing. His need, our needs, the way we keep each other going, so often in spite of ourselves. It reminded me of two separate passages from two separate blogs: a couple—both college professors—who often write about their autistic son, Charlie.

The hours and days of our lives are consumed in what we’ve dubbed autismland: that experience of showing up for life each challenging day has provided the best, really only opportunity of a lifetime to bear witness together as part of a family, with a flesh and blood loved one at its heart.

James T. Fisher at The Irish Waterfront

His wife, Kristina Chew (We Go With Him), wrote: “One keeps vigil over what can.” Which I guess is what this post is all about—bearing witness together.

boy puzzle

Flesh and blood needs flesh and blood / And you’re the one I need.  –Johnny Cash

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