This all happened on February 28th…been meaning to post:
It started with a note from Ben’s teacher, in which I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry:
Ben had a difficult day today. He repeatedly disrupted the two students who sit next to him. He copies everything they say and he calls them names like, “Big Bird.” He also tries to pet one of the students and he says, “What nice fur you have.” I told him that if it continued tomorrow I would have to change his seat. We discussed how those two boys are his friends, and we practiced appropriate ways to talk to our friends and get their attention. If you could talk to him about this I would appreciate it.
But that night I discovered that the experience at school with Ben was not funny at all. He cried all during his homework and said he wanted to go to his room. I asked him if I could come with him and we went together. I told him that sometimes there were certain situations that were just not good and that it happens to everyone–it’s happened to me, I told him. “You can be in a bad situation, like this school where you’re just not happy. But we’re going to find you a new school and it will all be better and you won’t feel like this anymore.” He looked at me and through his tears he said:
“I want to climb back inside your stomach and live there from now on. I used to hear you sing from inside there and sometimes you would wake me up. And when I looked through the dark I could see the stars.”
I hugged him while running these sentences through my head. And then I left the room to find a pen.
A few nights ago Ben mentioned to me that I should meditate–something I used to do a lot more than of late. He is tuned into things so when he told me–out of the blue–to meditate, I did it. Work has been hectic and stressful lately so I was glad to be reminded to take care of myself.
Tonight he and I had a typical evening at home ; we had dinner, he read a little, took a bath, and then he played Angry Birds while I worked on my computer. When I put him into bed I asked him, just for fun, if I should meditate and he told me yes. I said, “Why, Ben?” And he said, “Because you need to settle up.” “Settle…up?” I said. “Yes,” he said and then he rolled over to go to sleep.
I thought about this for awhile. No one would ever use that expression, “settle up”–he couldn’t have heard that somewhere–he made it up. But it’s exactly what meditating is to me–I don’t really settle down…well, I do…but it’s more like I settle upward.
How is he so wise and original?
When the first plane hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, like many people, I thought it was an accident. Jeff was on his way into the city, and he called from the train. My mom (who had been staying with us for three weeks since Ben was born) answered the phone. “Turn on the news,” Jeff said.
We did, and we watched for a little bit. I saw the flames but, in my mind, I was thinking it was going to be similar to the story about when the plane hit the Empire State Building long ago. A tragedy, yes, but at that point they were saying it was a twin-engine plane, and for some reason I assumed the building was basically empty. It was just too early in the morning for many people to be in there. Geez, I hope the pilot got out okay, I thought. Total denial.
My mom was getting laundry ready to take to the laundromat, and she had the basket in her arms. We were talking about something. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a fireball on the TV screen.
“Wow, I just saw a fireball or something,” I said.
Yesterday I attended a chick-hatching breakfast in Ben’s class. All of us moms brought muffins and juice and we looked at the baby chicks that had hatched a few weeks earlier and were chirping in a pen in the corner of the room. The kids took turns showing the moms and dads all the writing and journaling and picture-taking the class had done which chronicled the journey from eggs to the now full grown chicks that are to be taken to a farm on a field trip scheduled for Monday.
Ben is not the most physically demonstrative child, in fact sometimes when I hug him, he responds by telling me that he would like to get a “Do Not Disturb” sign taped to his forehead. Continue reading
You may have noticed that many of these posts are from when Ben was younger and that I skip around….it’s because I didn’t know how to blog when I was writing them but don’t want them to continue to sit in my drawer.
This is from when Ben was 4 and a half.
Ben had woken up sick in the middle of the night and was now recovering. I stayed home from work to be with him, and he had been sleeping all morning. I poked my head into his room and saw that his eyes were open, so I went over to his bed and sat down next to him. I put my hand on his head. He no longer had a fever, but he seemed weak and he was quiet.
“Are you feeling better, sweetie?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, but his eyes looked sad. “Why did I throw up?”
“I don’t know,” I answered. “Maybe you ate something bad or you had a little virus.”
Just then Simon jumped on the bed and curled up our feet.
“I want Simon to be my kitty when I grow up,” Ben said.
“Well,” I said. “Kitties don’t live that long. And Simon is already really old.”
Ben stared at Simon. “You mean Simon is going to die?” he asked. Continue reading
Ben and I were walking home from the grocery store sometime in 2004 when I looked down and saw the most beautiful moth lying perfectly flat in the street. It was like a bug under glass in the museum—it had been run over by a car with its huge furry wings spread out and it was in perfect condition. Ben had been walking a little ahead of me. I thought he hadn’t noticed it.
“Ben!” I said. “Come look at this bug.”
The way he acted, it seemed as though he had seen it but didn’t want to acknowledge it. He stood planted to his spot and ignored me.
“Ben, come and see this beautiful bug!”
Reluctantly he came over and looked down at it. Then he looked up and away.
“I don’t want to see it,” he said. Continue reading
One Saturday morning, when Ben was six years old, he climbed next to me in bed as I was sleeping.
“Mommy,” he whispered. “do I have autism?”
I was jarred awake. It was one of those crucial moments; I realized I had to address this perfectly or he could be traumatized. We have never kept the word autism a secret. We have never whispered it, and we have talked openly about it all of his life.
“Well, sweetie, “ I said carefully. “Some of the experts say that you have a little bit of autism, yes.” Good, I thought. That was a good answer. But I wasn’t prepared for what he asked next. Continue reading
Ben was about three, sitting on the couch looking at a book. We were getting ready to go to a farm to see some animals. I had told Ben about the trip, thinking he would be excited, but there was not much of a reaction.
“Ben. Ben. Ben,” I called. “Ben! Be—en, can you hear me? We have to go.”
Sigh. “Yes, okay. I don’t want to go. I want to stay here.”
“Ben, we’re going to go do something as a family today. We’re going to a farm to see animals.”
“I don’t want to go see animals.” Continue reading
Paper towel, paper towel, I just cleaned up the floor.
Paper towel, paper towel, I don’t need you anymore.
“Mommy, I don’t want to be here.”
“On the Earth.”
“Ben, what are you saying? What do you mean?”
“I want to go back to where I came from.”
“Honey, are you upset about something?” Continue reading