Blending in.

The kids and I have been watchng Doc Martin (BBC) religiously, two episodes per night over the past week.  We are addicted to this ornery ex-surgeon, now local GP for a sleepy Cornwall seaside town.  Anjali asks if we’re watching Mister Doctor (she can’t seem to remember the name of the show, but I love her twist.)

Nik loves it too, and will turn off his ipad if I have the show on.  The other night, we were on the couch, the three of us, watching Doc be his trademark rude self to some poor villager and Nik said, “He’s really rude and mean, isn’t he?”
Me: “Yeah, he certainly is!”
Nik, after a few moments, “Why is he so mean?”
Me: “He just doesn’t see the need to be nice.  He’s a very good doctor, and he thinks that is enough.  And that everyone should welcome him and tolerate his meanness.  I also don’t think he realizes he’s being mean.”
Nik: “Maybe he should go to a class where they can teach him to blend in better.”

And there, right there, I felt everything come full circle.

Remembering all the social skills classes, all the behavioral interventions, the years of working with this child, trying to show him how to read social cues, interact well with others…hearing this boy offer up a solution for what may have, but for the grace of god and all the therapists, been him one day… I hugged him close to my side, kissed the top of his head and said, “Yeah, I hope they help him do that soon.”

Nine.

Nine years.

Nine years ago, a little miracle showed up in my life, forever changing me, teaching me these lessons: I have no control over people. I was humbled down to my knees, my arrogance stripped away, and then had my confidence built up again, as well as trust in my ability to be a ferocious parent. I learned to depend on others to help me with him. I learned that it truly takes a village to raise a child.

And he has thrived and grown and is loved and loves back. His joys are video games and reading and asking big concept questions. His goal in life is to spend the least amount of time working to make the most amount of money (really.)

He redefines “normal” on a daily basis.

And I am happy. And blessed to be his mother.

Happy Ninth birthday to my Little Tortoise.

Favorites. Nikhil, Age 8.

Color: Blue
Friend: Matthew (in his class)
Drink: Sprite
Food: Pizza
Thing to do: Play video games
Thing at School: Looking up Bug Bites on the internet (“Well, you gotta know your bug bites!”)
Teacher: Ms. Ryann
Season: Summer.  (“Because you don’t have to work.”)
Animal: Wolf (“There are so many choices to choose from!”)
Toy: Legos
Restaurant: Chicago Fire (pizza)
Movie Character: Batman
Movie: 007 Skyfall
Ice cream: Cookies and Cream
Game: Trampoline football (at Natalie’s house)
Vacation: Dallas.  “I’d like to go to Hawaii.”

Mom.

Pete was telling the Nik this morning how he always gets comments from his friends that Nik looks just like him.  The shape of his head, his face, his smile.  Nik said,”Well, you’re my dad.”

So I asked Nik: “Who’s your mom?”
Nik: “You.”
Thinking I’d get a response based on the color of his hair, or his brown skin, I followed up with: “How do you know I’m your mom?”
Nik turned to look at me and said: “Because you take care of me.”

That pretty much sums it up. 

Sand.

I was working on this blog on Sunday morning, and then decided to read a few posts out to the kids.  I thought they would get a kick out of hearing about their lives when they were little.  Nik was sitting right by me and was able to read a few words of each as I scrolled through the posts.  I skipped over the ones that referred to his diagnosis or the ABA therapies, since I am not ready to discuss autism with him yet.

I also skipped a few that I thought would make him sad, but read one out that I thought he could handle, one of him getting picked on by older girls who dumped sand on his head at a birthday party, when he was three, and he let them because he wanted them to play with him.  He was upset when I read it, and asked if we still knew the girls and how old they were.  I explained how they were young then, only a couple years older than him, but they probably wouldn’t do that again if they saw him today.  And that he would never let them get away with it now.  He made a couple of vengeful comments and a face or two, but then seemed to let it go.

Last night, I heard him crying in his room.  When I asked him what was wrong, what was bothering him, he said, “Sand.  Sand on my head.”

Broke my heart all over again.

I’m the real Nik…

Nik learned to read over the summer.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that he has been interested in books since he opened his eyes…I have a video of him at 4 months, sitting up on our couch, paging intently through a picture book.

However, while the interest was there, his brain couldn’t make the connections it needed to make in order to take the interest and strong desire to actual reading.  The letters made no sense, the words were hard-won, and slowly the frustration didn’t seem worth it and he would just give up.  Or he would memorize the story and fake his way through it.  He fooled many reading parent volunteers at his school this way…

Agony for a mother who has read since three, and has never stopped inhaling books ever since.

And then this summer, a breakthrough.  It seemed like almost overnight, he went from laboring over two- to three-word sentences to reading polysyllabic words in long sentences.  He would read out loud, with the proper intonations.  He even changed his voice to match the characters, if he was reading conversation pieces.

With this newly found skill, his confidence grew exponentially; he could understand his homework now, he enjoyed his math lessons, he could read signs on the street, he would read out loud to his sister.

If I wasn’t here to watch it happen, I would not know that this boy was the same Nik from the end of the last school year.  In fact, sometimes we catch ourselves looking at each other in amazement, at something profound he’s just said, or something thoughtful he’s just done, and then can’t help but burst out to him: “Who are you and what have you done with our Nik?”

And he responds: “I am the real Nik, and I just said that.”

Yes.  You are the real Nik.  Every single day.

Switch Witch- Part Two

And another facet has been added to the legend of the Switch Witch...

Me: (driving home a few minutes ago in the rain with the kids, realizing that I’d forgotten to get the Switch Witch gifts): “Hey kids, we’ll have to leave the candy out tomorrow night. The Switch Witch doesn’t fly in the rain.”

Anjali:”Why can’t she drive her car?”

Me:”She doesn’t have a car, she flies everywhere on her broom. And if the broom gets wet, it won’t fly.”

Anjali:”Darn it!”

Me:”Yeah…that’s too bad…you’ll have to hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow night. Hey! She’s probably at home drinking hot chocolate!”

Anjali:”And talking to her cat. All three of them. And they are all black cats. I wonder if she has a green face.”

Long time gone…

And it’s certainly been a while since I’ve posted…

I had some unsavory sorts contact me through my blog, and that drove me to stay away for a while.  It just felt tainted to me, but it has been always on my mind, and I’ve regretted the posts I haven’t written.  While facebook has been the happy recipient of my kids’ witticisms and pics, it doesn’t seem as permanent or easily read as this blog…so I am back.

I also have another idea for a blog that came about from some pics I was posting on facebook…when it’s ready, I’ll share!

In the meantime, here’s something from Nik to hold you over…

Nik (lying down with me on the couch): I really love you mom.
Me: I love you too, Nik.
Nik: I don’t want you to die.
Me: Will you miss me when I’m dead?
Nik: Yeah. (sniffs a little, then…) There’s so much I don’t know how to do.
Me: Like what?
Nik: I don’t know how to get a job…
Me: Don’t worry, baby, I’ll help you, and your teachers in college will too, and your dad will.

Poor little guy.  The weight of the world is already becoming a burden…