Growing Up is Something Kids Do (#486)

Yesterday I mentioned that repeated watching of a certain purple dinosaur had resulted not in my autistic child becoming……autistic, but in forever imprinting the need in me to “clap, stomp, and shout ‘hooray’ at the merest mention of ‘if you’re happy and you…..'” And if you had been at my town’s library at 6.30pm tonight you would have seen me doing just that.
Charlie and I, and a few other families, were at Special Needs Storytelling Night. He smiled and ran about the room until, during a few rounds of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” I had him imitate my motions via the too-familiar request: “Do this!” Then, it being October, it was all about pumpkins: Songs to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle” and “London Bridge” and a story about growing a pumpkin from the seeds. Charlie was sitting facing me (and not the book) on a carpet rectangle, a patient and slightly strained set to his face, and all that I could think about was how our happy smiling Jack o’ Lantern was today discovered to be molding: Just before coming to Storytelling Night, I had loaded the squashed mass into a trash bag.

Scarves and bandannas were distributed for a camel dance (one ended up on Charlie’s head and stayed there until I got him to stand up). Charlie pulled out a small drum after several nudges, then took the drumstick I handed him and stood and tapped. He was so quiet—-where was the bright-eyed, lively boy who had played the piano? hopped into his room to do speech with his long-time speech therapist? run smiling to catch the bus? carried out the garbage? It was not simply that “he’s tired after a long day”; Charlie stayed up late doing puzzles, eyes intent and forehead furrowed.

As we drove home with the windows down and music playing in the warm autumn dark, it hit me: While it is always good for Charlie to have a book read to him, it has been a long time since we sang songs about pumpkins while jumping up and down to the tune of “Mulberry Bush” or waving silken scarves. However “developmentally delayed,” Charlie is a big boy. Can it be that he has outgrown those songs, that play, those toy instruments?

I used to worry constantly about Charlie growing up, being bigger and taller and stronger than me, not yet being able to talk very well or to read or tie his shoes. “Those first three years are precious!” “Up until the age of X you have a window in which to achieve Y and Z and then it is gone……” It is such alarmist thinking that, I think, generates excessive worry and even panic in parents of autistic children (and in parents in general). And now Charlie is bigger and taller and stronger and I am older, as is he, and the lists of “not yet’s” and “still must learn”‘s keep growing.Now Charlie is a big boy who has outgrown—who is too old for—-certain activities—sweet songs about the holidays and Halloween arts ‘n’ crafts projects. And, having been in special ed classes for his entire education, Charlie has had to listen to those cheery tunes and been directed to wave his arms akimbo and jump and shout “hooray” for some years more than most nine-year-old boys.

Seeing that your son is growing up and putting aside those childish things is a good, a great, thing to do.

A real trick of a treat.

4 Responses to “Growing Up is Something Kids Do (#486)”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it can be disconcerting at times. Alex decided last year- at 7- that he didnt like the teletubbies any more. Actually, I quite miss Dipsy and Po and the others, but we cant stay in the safe enclosure of teletubbyland forever, I guess.

    Fortunately he was never into Barney *shudder*

    I nearly fell of my chair the other day when Alex announced that ‘no hair is a good look for school’ I had no idea he had begun to think about his appearance in that way… I know he’s watched me dye my hair, tie it up or in a headscarf etc but it never occured to me he might even consider the look of his own hair. We compromised… he can try the bald look next summer in the holidays if he still wants to. Its too cold now, and besides, as tolerant as his school is, I think it might raise a few eyebrows…

    Guess he’s growing up too…

  2. melanie says:

    “I think, generates excessive worry and even panic in parents of autistic children ”

    we are just now recovering from the post traumatic stress of the panic of those first years. I believe it is unfair to place such a heavy heavy burden on parents (with no guidance whatsoever) because I feel now it did more harm than good. I have learned MIchael learns on his own timetable. All it did was intimidate me and take me longer to understand my child.

  3. Yes, Barney, “shudder”!

    We started to get Charlie a buzz cut a fw years ago—-so every day is pretty much the “same hair day.”

    Melanie, I have been thinking about ptds myself of late. Because things have been good for Charlie and I still remember how they were not, quite recently.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A doesnt want a buzz cut… he wants quite literally bald. Of the polish and shine variety hehe. Guess I’ve showed FAR too much appreciation of Michael Stipe *grin*

    As far as the PTSD goes, I feel bad… really bad… that it took so long before I realised listening to the professionals was perhaps not the best thing, and maybe I should be listening to A himself? I just hope I didnt traumatise him too badly.

    I cant believe it took me so long to figure it out.

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