Relax. He is the same little boy you loved yesterday. I smiled trying to hold back the tears. “No he isn’t. Yesterday I dreamed he would be an astronaut. Today I am hoping he will learn to talk.”
It was like some sort of 1)cosmic joke. I could still recall the day that determined my fate. It was October in 2)Ottawa and the summer breezes had given way to the autumn rainfall of leaves. The snow would begin soon. The 3)crispness of coming frost was in the air. My casually mentioning Wyatt’s behavior to Dr. Martin aroused his worries. He started asking me questions about Wyatt’s activities, speech patterns, and emotions. I still see clearly in my mind the 4)sterility of the room and all its belongings when the doctor turned to me and said, “He almost sounds 5)autistic.”
I couldn’t cope with that picture in my mind. I had to run to get away from this all too painful place that was reminding me of what was to be my child’s life—being strange.
I could not remember how many times I told myself, “This is normal. He is a little boy who is not talking yet,” when my asking questions met with his blank-eyed response in a restaurant; how many times I would 6)brag, “He loves to play on his own for hours at a time and he never gets into trouble,” when Wyatt was playing games that no one else could 7)conceive of, let alone join in while other boys in the park were playing together or in small groups huddled around a sand 8)pail or toy truck. My life was changing direction. So was Wyatt’s.
I started to hide Wyatt from my friends and neighbors, especially from a good friend. For eight months a friend and I had been pregnant together. Our boys were six days apart. We used to have long phone talks about our babies to share some fun and loss. It was too painful to let others know about my boy acting strange. It was like a 9)blot in my life that was supposed to be happy and wonderful.
It was a Thursday afternoon and I found one half of a great pair of kitchen scissors was missing. They were unbelievably sharp and could be taken apart so they could be washed or the 10)blades sharpened. I knew Wyatt had taken the missing blade.
“Wyatt,” I began as patiently as I could, “Do you see this?” I held up the blade. “Do you know what this is?”
Wyatt stuffed a bunch of Fruit Loops in his mouth. No response.
“Wyatt!” I forced eye contact with him. “Where are the other scissors? See these?” I showed him the half pair. “These are in this drawer. Where are the other ones?”
He grinned big. Ate Fruit Loops. Turned the TV on and off. Still no response.
I didn’t know what to do. It was really hard. “Wyatt,” I tried once more, “Mommy wants these scissors. Can you go get them for Mommy? It will make Mommy so happy if you bring me the scissors.”
“Watch 11)Spongebob?” Wyatt asked as he slid down from his kitchen 12)stool and ran off, leaving me shaking my head and wondering in exactly which way this situation was going to end badly.
Five minutes later, I turned my head to see Wyatt coming downstairs, his favorite doll in one hand, the missing half pair of kitchen scissors in the other. I immediately ran over and took it from him.
“Wyatt!” I hugged him. “Thank you for bringing me the scissors! Good job! You did it! These scissors need to stay in the kitchen. These are Mommy’s scissors!”
Wyatt laughed, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mommy so happy!”
I was on the verge of tears. A realization13)dawned on me that he was the best gift I had ever gotten even though he was not as normal as other children. And why did I hide him from others as if he were some dark and terrible secret? No! He was my pride. It was a long, hard battle to get him to this point, expressing his wants and needs without resorting to violence in frustration. In fact, each new day brings out a new set of challenges and we have learned a lot about fighting this thing called autism. With love and patience I have found the beautiful, happy boy who would teach me more about life.
And that is the solution to my cosmic riddle.