Grace Notes (#173)

Sometimes the sweet progress we all wish for in our kids happens, small and quick.
We were having dinner with Jim’s parents as we’ve done almost every weekend since we moved back to New Jersey from St. Louis in late May of 2001. Jim’s dad (whose name is also Jim) had been looking forward to a turkey sandwich all day; since Charlie has celiac disease and can’t tolerate dairy, I must have read the menu with its mostly Italian offerings (all with cheese, bread, and pasta) for ten minutes before getting him fries and a green salad. Charlie snatched the foil containers from my hands and set the container of balsamic dressing on his plate and dunked fries, cucumbers and lettuce into it.

“Good potatoes,” said my mother-in-law (whose name is Grace) as she took a fry. Charlie gave her a quick look.

“One for dad,” said my Jim, helping himself. “No,” said Charlie. I opened the other container of salad dressing and Charlie immediately appropriated it.

With about seven fries to go, Charlie took each cup of balsamic dressing and poured them onto my salad. He picked up two fries and pushed them towards my mother-in-law.

“Granma, giff fries! Giff.”

My mother-in-law took the offered items. “Some for Grandpa, too, Cholly,” Jim requested and Charlie followed suit. Then he gave Jim the remaining two: “Thanks, pal, how ’bout you take half?” Charlie did, grabbed the rest of his salad, and nibbled it on the couch before getting his usual ride in my in-laws’ “elevator chair.”

Spontaneous sharing!

I only realized how big a thing this was when we were home and Charlie was sprawled on his big blue pillow, requesting me to “turnonn” his favorite songs: “hello ee yess”; “ee eye ee eye oh”; “diss lil’ pig-gee”; “Teletubbees twee”; “Teletubbees ell’fahnt”; “Teletubbees oh-shunn.” He was very tired as we had gone to Saturdays in Motion, a program started by an autism parent at the YMCA in the town where my in-laws live. Charlie and several kids on the spectrum had the pool to themselves for an hour and then got to go to a gym room and walk the balance beam, stomp on squishy mats, get a ride in a huge circle-thing down and up two mats. In the morning Charlie had hollered “no boogie board! no no no no NO” for a good half-hour when we told him we’d be going swimming and I was reminded of how, to some extent, “ocean,” “beach house,” and “swim pool” are one and the same for Charlie.

I finally coaxed Charlie out for a walk and he cheered up stomping on the tiny snow piles in the bright morning sun. And, at the YMCA, he jumped right in the pool, anxiety cleared out, and did several laps.
You do grace notes on the piano by pressing a finger ever so fleetingly on a key; you do them on a stringed instrument (like the cello I’d love for Charlie to learn) with that same fast press and release. My best piano teacher, Debbie Yee, used to have me practise both with and without the grace notes, so I could hear the difference and I inevitably liked it better with them. The music sounded fuller, more complete, and just from that small sound.

Grace notes: Those spontaneous utterances–“everyboddy go! al-fah-tor lay-tor!”–and actions, those seeming details, Charlie adds to the greater music of the day.

Listen. They’re so easy to miss.

3 Responses to “Grace Notes (#173)”
  1. Eileen says:

    What a sweet kid! That is so wonderful how Charlie shared his fries with his grandma on his own.

    I am getting better at listening. Andrew has been singing the Must Be Santa Song that they sing at school. I heard him singing, “che che nose, ha ha head, soo soo wed”. Translation “Cherry nose, cap on head, suit that’s red”. I am goning to buy the CD today!

  2. Wade Rankin says:

    Days like that are the blessing we get as parents of autistic children. We get to celebrate little victories other parents take for granted.

  3. kcsmommy says:

    Hi Kristina,
    Wow great job Charlie! Sharing all on his own! This is really wonderful to hear, what a great kiddo. I love reading about Charlie and seeing his photos as well. Gosh I think there was something wrong with the blog last week because we couldn’t see any of Charlies photos and sure missed the little guy. It’s great to see it’s up and running again:) Love visiting you and Charlie very much!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • What’s all this about?

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: