Caillou’s whines bounced around the room’s lemony light the morning I tried to figure out whether my two-year-old was deaf. I muted the TV mid-sentence, and watched. Did he notice?
He was wearing my favorite outfit. Blue shorts and a white polo with rugby stripes along the chest.
He wasn’t bald any longer like Caillou, but his hair was wispy. Still brief on his head.
I set the remote on the sofa, and stood to his side. Loudly clapped my hands behind him. Nothing. No change in his silly little grin.
I was sure it wasn’t autism until I was sure it was.
For the first year of Preschool Autism Class (PAC), I drove him, unwilling to take advantage of the short bus that was happy to come to our door each morning. He was too little, too innocent.
I worried about the drivers and other students. The seatbelt-less seats.
About the bus rumbling away from home. From me. About him, rumbling away from me as I felt less-than perfect.
Back then, I grieved the fact we weren’t attending a Co-Op Montessori class the way I thought we’d be.
It was a year before he rode the bus, and on that first morning, I put my heart in his pocket and a noise-activated recording device in his backpack.
Later, him safe and home, I tried to listen and couldn’t understand enough of the noises to make sense of anything, much less his day.
I felt ashamed for not trusting in the first place, except how could a mama trust sending her baby to school while he still needed naps and asked for water by saying “ah?”
How could that mama not send a noise-activated recording device along with her baby?
I did send it again, every now and then but never got much more from it than I did from him.
Even once he’d found some words, “How was your day?” was met with the same silly little grin, while wispy hair grew thicker. His teachers met us, in the parking lot. Those of us who drove.
They walked them in, and he went.
I did trust them. Not the bus at first, but the teachers. The ones who came to our home soon after the lemony light morning of Caillou and my home hearing test.
“It’s not autism,” I said.
“Doesn’t matter,” Mrs. M replied. “It’s what program matters. For him. You want him to talk, right?”
“I do,” I said. Blinked back tears. Dared to imagine that one day, I’d hear “water” instead of “ah.” That one day, I’d hear “I love you.”
And so, Preschool Autism Class (PAC). Eventually, a PAC graduation ceremony.
Later, we found grace in kindergarten.
I was sure it wasn’t autism until I was sure it was. And then, I wasn’t sure.
Today, it’s probably not autism, but something like it.
Something like a lot of things. A lot of kids.
He cannot have tags in his underpants.
He brushes his teeth with only water, and has a hard time with social cues, volume control, modeling, and reminds me of bottle-drinking-baby-him while he twirls his hair round and round and round his finger.
This week, the knot in his too-long hair (he wants a man-bun like some YouTuber he knows) was addressed by him. With scissors.
Usually, he asks me to help but newfound independence with my words of “your hair, your choice” means his hair is past his neck in the back. Until this week. Today, he has an Alfalfa sprout, right at his crown.
“I used the scissors,” he said.
He cut the knot out, himself.
“UGH,” I think. I remember cutting my own bangs. How I hid them by cutting them to my scalp.
He bounds down the stairs with this sprout.
I don’t even care. Maybe, it’s an excuse for a soon haircut?
His hair, his choice.
And mostly? I just felt thankful that he has words.
I even kinda like that he wants a man bun, and that his crazy hair looks more like this than the little boy I pictured at seven-years-old.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “I don’t want to write about…”
In hindsight, this is an insanely stupid sentence as pretty much everything I don’t want to write about will never appear here in this tiny corner of the webs of the internets. Except, maybe, I do want to write about Tucker and his progress, except I don’t want to write about Tucker and his progress.
That’s an essay for another day. Maybe. If, you know, I feel like writing about it and all that.