Charlie the Historian

Charlie rides again  
It may sound funny, but yesterday I realized that Charlie, like Jim, is a historian, constantly reflecting on the events of the past even while living in the present.

He's not always or only 'living in the moment' and focused on only what's in front of him. Charlie generally lacks what you'd have to call 'consumer consciousness': He has no interest in the latest trendy fab-toy-gadget thing. He likes his iPod touch because of its shiny, clear, and good-sized visual display, so he can see the numbers on the timer spinning down; I've yet to put an music on it as he hasn't asked and, too, he did throw away his old iPod, on which I'd loaded up a lot of music that he liked, or at seemed to like, to listen to. Just the other night Jim asked me what an Xbox is; no, we don't have one or a PlayStation or a Wii and, as previously noted, we don't have a TV set, so no Guitar Hero.

(But Jim has tried that, at my cousin's a couple of Christmases ago. I come from a very techno-savvy family.)

Charlie also cares maybe less than negative 17 about wearing what his peers are wearing; his wardrobe is pretty much furnished (with a few t-shirts that he's gotten as gifts) by my mom in consultation with me, and a few websites that seem to just keep extending their range of 'youth' sizes for pants. He does, though, seem to like to wear at least a few articles of clothing that are the same as Jim's, such as black slip-on suede-ish shoes (he and Jim interchange their shoes these days) and of course the green sweatshirts.

Son should do what dad does, and vice versa, perhaps?

Charlie is highly conscious of what Jim and I (and my parents, and, I would suspect, of others whom he is with a lot and likes) are wearing. Some of the things he most treasures (in the sense that he's clearly very keen on knowing where they are and keeping them with him, or in his room and purview) are articles of clothing from Jim and me. Too, every time my parents come to visit he immediately looks in their suitcases for various coats or shirts or some such. Some would call this obsessive behavior and that's partially an explanation, but I also think Charlie has something of my grandmother in him: At the service for her funeral, my oldest cousin noted that Ngin-Ngin never wanted anything new, but she sure was happy when given something 'pre-owned,' as it were by any of us. 

Shirts on a rack don't have meaning, but the shirt your dad wears while you're bike riding or just hanging at home or that just makes him look the way he did on some particular day: That's the shirt to have. I guess I could say, Charlie prefers 'vintage' items, provided they've been previously owned and used by certain others, and there's a story from the past that he can attach to them. 

Too, when he's making his way through new experiences, he needs to see them reflected in the light of past experiences. Perhaps that's why, as he's finishing up a quite good school year, Charlie has been saying the names of a couple of previous teachers (and a few aides) over and over, and with (as he finishes hislitany) a big smile?

Unfortunately Charlie's teacher wasn't at school Firday–maybe one reason he got upset in the late morning?—and she won't be on Monday, his last day; she's getting married on Sunday (!!!!). I think he does miss her–she is a quiet, but definitely warm and calming, easy presence in the classroom. Not that Charlie has ever said her name spontaneously. He has already tended to say the names of those who he no longer sees quite a bit, as if he likes to filter and process past events, memories, as he goes about the business of the present. Too, I think he takes a bit of pride in being able to communicate to us that he understands that things were once so and they aren't any more, and that he's ok with that. He's got, you could say, a sense of history, of how once he was different and had different responses to things, and now things are different.

History is change over time, as my resident historian likes to remind me.

Reading this 'like dad like son' themed post over, I realize I've written a Father's Day post a day early. But why not just make the whole weekend 'in honor of dads,' especially Charlie's dad, my lovely friend and pal and ever-faithful companion Jim, who's done so many memories' worth of bike rides and ocean swims, of listening sessions with Phil and long walks on both sides of the river with Charlie? Who's been ever right beside our boy, off and on the road.

3 Responses to “Charlie the Historian”
  1. Barbara says:

    A perfect Father’s Day post! Charlie is living some wonderful values – learned from both sides of his family.

  2. Niksmom says:

    Lovely. Simply lovely. Happy Father’s Day to Jim.

  3. autismvox says:

    Thanks so much!
    Jim and I had been talking about how Charlie likes things ‘previously owned’ and he said ‘he’s like me’ and hence came this post.

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