Giant in the Sky (#481)

Ant Hockey at 10.30am (Charlie held his stick in one hand, did his best to follow a red ball in a jumble of feet and kids); a hilly bike ride on which he first wanted pushes from Jim before self-motoring; making the 3pm showing of Open Season with our friend and three of her five daughters—Charlie sat, requested a soda which he pitched into the (empty) row behind us then sat and watched the entire movie; kicking a purple soccer ball back and forth for two rounds with the eldest girl (who has one strong kick).
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Charlie seemed quite pleased to have the three girls running and kicking and hurrying around his back yard while he munched on a bag of frozen peas and carrots. He took an especial interest in the youngest girl and held her firmly by the shoulders (she did not seem to mind, considering that Charlie is about a foot and a half taller than her). Charlie looked about ready to hop into their minivan with the four of them when they headed home.

The part of Open Season that Charlie watched especially entranced was a madcap tour-de-force: Boog the bear accidentally causes the beavers’ dam to burst, with the result that animals, a truck, logs, a crazed hunter, are all swept up in torrents of water and hurled downstream, one after another. Charlie, I sense, likes to be caught up in a similar swirl of action (though not quite that wild).

Indeed: We got Mexican take-out and ate in the black car on the way across the Pulaski Skyway to Jersey City. Some of my students were singing and doing improv skits for a “fall fest” performance. The skits—heavy on the humor, the talk, and the shouting—-made Charlie nervous. But the singing—-we caught the last few bars of Giants in the Sky sung by one of my students and all of “On the Steps of the Palace” from Into the Woods—made Charlie beam and smile so his cheeks were round. He stood up in the aisle, very still, very rapt, and Jim and I nodded to each other: It’s the music that speaks to him best.
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Our friend noted that her second-youngest daughter had said “Charlie is talking more and he is doing better”; the youngest daughter said that “he cries more than other kids.” I am grateful for both observations, both very true, and (to me) more than characteristic of days in Autismland, of days when both awesome talking from a child of few words and some awfully loud screaming are often combined.

“There are big tall terrible, awesome, scary, wonderful giants in the sky” was what my student was singing as we came into the theater; it is the last line of Giants in the Sky. And the big tall terrible, the awesome, the scary, the wonderful more than describe our days (like today, which was nicely lacking in the “terrible” category) in Autismland with Charlie. Just as we do not know what those giants in the sky are like until we climb the beanpole to find out, so we can never know what Charlie might like and might be able to do, if we do not keep on climbing up after him, our giant who leads us onward and upward into the sky.

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