Like and Unlike (#344)

After Charlie was born, my short-hand description of him to friends and family was “me as a boy.”

Charlie and I have the same hair color (black), eyes (dark brown), nose (not large), and big forehead (which feature my Yeh-Yeh, my paternal grandfather, immediately noted when he first saw me at the long-gone Providence Hospital in Oakland, California).
I do not have a brother and, before Charlie was born, had no idea what it would be long to be the mother of a little boy–and, even more, to be the mother of an autistic son.

Charlie is thoroughly unlike me as a child: I taught myself to read when I was four years old. I was so terrified to ride a “real bike” that my father took off the left training wheel and then the right while leaving the other one on, so that I was really riding a glorified tricycle well beyond my 8th year. I love learning foreign languages. When I was Charlie’s age, I was maybe a third of his size.

Charlie is just learning some sight words and still mixes up the letters i, l, t. Charlie is “minimally verbal” in speaking English. Charlie goes on eleven mile bike rides with his dad. Charlie’s feet and shirt size are the same size as mine.

Charlie loves to splash in mud puddles and soak the back of his shorts on slides slick with rain water. He loves to wear the same black slip-on shoes that Jim does (who says autistic kids don’t imitate?) and destroyed yet another pair today on the playground, dripping in mud, rain, murky water, and grass clippings.

(I was wearing an old pair of shoes I reserve for the purpose of rainy day walks with Charlie.)

And, Charlie had his first piano lesson today.

His new piano teacher has an ABA background and, after velcroing eight keys on our piano, had Charlie identify the first one (“What is is?” “Seeeee!” said Charlie) and then indicated where to put the laminated letter, on middle C. D, E, F, G, A, B, and C followed. Then, with the teacher standing behind Charlie and prompting his fingers as minimally possible, Charlie pointed to a big note clearly labelled with the letter name, then was directed to play the corresponding key. After a few tries, Charlie did the labeling and note playing on his own. After playing the C major scale, he announced, “I want go play” and sped off to give my mother a big hug.
As the piano teacher took the velcro letters off the piano keys, I recalled how I had “played” the piano before my first lesson as a first grader with Mrs. Krikorian. My mother had stuck masking-tape numbers on the black and white keys so I could play “The First Noël.” I would count off the numbers past 30 and sing (and I cannot sing in tune, unlike Charlie) “No-elll! No-elll! Booooorrrn is the kiiiiiing of Isssszzaz-rahhh-ellllll!”

Charlie sang “America the Beautiful,” in tune, this morning. And, fiddling his new light-up squishy UFO, he laughed and called out “wrride! twrain! wheeeeee!” as my mother read him Roller Coaster.

Maybe Charlie and I have more in common than meets the eye.

3 Responses to “Like and Unlike (#344)”
  1. Mamaroo says:

    Lets see, passionate about the things he loves…like mother like son.

  2. Kristin says:

    I love the comparisons between you and Charlie. You are very petite! Gabe loves puddles too. He doesn’t like it when his shoes get wet though. He is the spitting image of my brother with a dash of my husband. I’m sprinkled in there when you see his love for people.

    Charlie has a lot of great things going for him :o)


  3. Charlie’s the greatest thing going for me! (Plus my best friend Jim, of course.)

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