Tag - brothers

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Those Darn Twins
2
My Sons, Pure Poetry
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Handedness
4
Jumping
5
Outer Space
6
We’re Having a Beach Party
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July 31: The Whale
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July 4: Independence Day
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July 2: Turtles and Sharks
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July 1: A Moment by the Pool

Those Darn Twins

I apologize for keeping some of you hanging, it’s just that I’ve been spending all my free time visiting orthopedic surgeons. Someone has to keep them in business and it might as well be us since there isn’t enough on our plate. Ha! You see? That was a joke, which must mean I am emerging from the darkness.

As you know, Sam broke his elbow after attempting to fly off the couch — this is already one of those stories that will follow him into adulthood because it’s just too much — the Icarus references and his earnest certainty that he could fly. Even he says: “I will tell this story to my children someday, when I’m a father, okay?”

This is the boy who also informed me that babies are made when the dad gives the mom sperm. “But Mom? It’s different from a sperm whale.”

Oy.

Eight days home from school and he devoured every book he could get his hands on. When he finally got his permanent cast on, I was quite delighted to return him to school so he could inform his classmates where babies come from continue his first-grade education and share his new-found knowledge of orthopedics (since he devoured a medical book too).

All was peaceful on the home front. I basked in the empty quiet of my house, at last able to get some work done (the kind that pays, not the housework kind, but that needed to be tackled too) when John decided to take a tumble down some stairs.

Now at first I thought his fall just produced a really bad bloody nose and further loosened an already-loose tooth, but after rocking him back and forth on the floor and getting his bloody nose to stop, his screams did not lessen — if anything, they picked up. I quickly scanned him but didn’t see any other cuts or bruises. That’s when he said, in his small beautiful voice, “El-bow! Hurts?” — I guess his way of telling me that something was not right and remembering Sam’s fall and what Sam said over and over as we raced to the ER.

Brilliant boy.

So back in the car we piled and off to the ER we raced again. They recognized us, go figure! Non-displaced wrist fracture. We were just grateful he didn’t need surgery. As soon as he heard the word cast, he began to demand “Blue cast?” Obliged.

So here we are: identical twin boys with nearly identical twin casts. Eerie twin thing? I’m inclined to think yes.

My Sons, Pure Poetry

If there’s one constant about my boys, it is this: John is always in motion and Sam is always talking.

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John’s hands flap, fingers flick, solo then together. Legs skip to a beat he surely feels but we don’t hear. He jumps and runs and flies through the air. Give him a wide open space: the backyard, or a football field, or a park in springtime and he’s off. Movement is his poetry.

When he was younger — two and three and even four — he was oblivious to everything but his pursuit of lines and shadows and above all, street signs and lampposts. There’s this new documentary called Loving Lampposts? and I can’t wait to see it — I have dozens of photos of John doing just that. When I think about that time, which is not so long ago, I think about the panic that tinged every facet of my day with them. Normal trips to the grocery store or to the playground were wrapped in a layer of impossibility and responsibility. While most children stay with their parents when they go out into the world, John’s first instinct was to bolt. I felt like his very survival depended on my not letting go of his hand.

I still think that it did.

But something has changed with my boy. He stops when you tell him to stop. He turns when you call his name. When we go to the playground now he is still drawn to the same things but he’s also the boy going down the slide and the boy saying “Swing Mommy Push?”

Sometimes when he strays too far, that familiar panic begins its rise in my belly. I’ll begin my sprint after him but just as quick am frozen in my tracks when he turns and stops at the sound of my call. It’s kind of a freaking miracle.

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Ever since Sam was two and learned his alphabet, he started to talk and has not stopped. If he is not talking about anything and everything under the sun then he is humming. He hums while drawing, he hums while playing, he hums while eating, he hums all the while. When I draw his attention to it, he’ll be quiet for maybe 15 seconds and then busts at the seams with sound. It is his poetry.

Sometimes, shame on me, I tune out. I almost missed this loveliness. Something about the language was different and so I stopped cutting vegetables and exclaimed, “Wow, Sam, was that a poem you just spoke aloud?”

“Yep.” he said. “It’s called All Around the Year.” I asked him if it was in a book he was reading and he said no, his teacher had read it aloud to them in class. And he remembered it.

“Honey, do you think you could write it down for me? I’d love to have it,” I asked, once again completely and utterly amazed at his memory.

A Poem
All Around the Year
Now, winter that
mean polar bear. Goes loping
inside its lair. A melting
river tugs loose its terrible
bear hug.
Winter
Spring
As Earth starts to seethe
As plants grow. Willow
branches grow high.
And so will I. And so will I.

Handedness

Sam and John are identical, it’s true. I watch them all the time and marvel at their similarities and differences. They began in my womb, mirror images of a thought fully formed.

  • Both are left-handed, although John uses his right hand to eat.
  • They both love to laugh and sing.
  • Although they share the same features, the way those features express themselves on each face is delightfully unique.
  • Both have the same dark freckle in the same exact spot on their back.
  • They each have an unruly mop of hair.
  • They both eat the same darn thing every single day.
  • Each asks for a story before bed. In rotation: Dr. Seuss ABC book for John, the Children’s Encyclopedia for Sam.

Sam and John are identical, yes, but so different too.

Jumping

A little boy jumps on the couch, a grin spread ear to ear. He says, “Mommy sit? Mommy play?” and I stop in my tracks. I look again, pretty sure I passed Sam upstairs before coming down here.

John?

You bounce up and down, up and down, and now I see the squint in addition to the grin, the finger puppets dancing by your face. Since when do you ask to play? I grab you and give you a big hug. You laugh and say again, “Mommy sit? Mommy play?” I tell you that first I need to help Sam get started on homework.

Then you say the most amazing thing: “Sam downstairs play?”

Who cares about homework. I yell for Sam, Come downstairs and play with your brother! He asked to play with you! and Sam comes running.

IMG_4193ASam in John’s space at three.

It’s hard to explain how my heart fills and overflows at the sight of you two laughing together, jumping together up and down, up and down. It may not last for long, and who knows when it might happen again, but this moment leaves me breathless.

The things that other people take for granted with their children.

You laugh and jump and plop together on the couch and it seems to me that for the briefest of moments there is no autism here, just two brothers doing something so ordinary that it qualifies as extraordinary.

John, your brother has never given up on you — he’s climbed, chased, pulled, turned, followed, and sometimes hit you — all in an effort to get your attention. He loves you so.

And today I see just how much you love him.

Outer Space

Back when Sam was oh, about two, he discovered outer space. He’d watch the Baby Galileo DVD on a constant loop if I’d let him. The planets, the stars, irresistible shiny things. As with every subject that fascinates him, he would make drawing after drawing of Neptune, Saturn, Mars and then call out their names, his love of the alphabet nearly as strong.

We discovered soon enough that he could read. The first time was at the grocery store: we’re passing the deli, Sam looks up from his seat at the front of the cart and sounds out “De-li. Ham.”

There was the time we took him to the National Air and Space Museum and as the four of us walked the exhibits he’d shout out the planet names to the astonishment of those around us. A little tow-headed two-year-old, who until recently had not uttered one word.

I remember all this as John’s obsession with outer space has now reached its pinnacle. He believes that his mother can do anything. He watches me crochet and climbs on my lap. I tell him “Mommy is making a scarf.”

He jumps off, brings me some yarn and says “Mommy is making the planets.” And so it begins. The moment he awakes: “Mommy is making the Mars?” Yes. The moment he steps off the bus: “Mommy is making the Neptune?” Yes. Even Pluto, that poor maligned planet that’s no longer a planet.

Days later I am done and I turn towards my neglected scarf. He brings me more yarn and says, “Mommy is making Muno babies.” He thinks I can do anything.

We’re Having a Beach Party

Trying to blog on vacation and constantly foiled by little boys who want to go to the beach — can you imagine? Seriously. Life is rough around here.

John’s feet slide off his bed, hit the floor and it’s all “Mommy, beach party? Go beach party?”

He packs up his crew in the “Monster Bag” and starts undressing. By himself. He finds his swimsuit, my swimsuit and thrusts them at me as if saying, Hello! Did you hear me? Let’s go! I say “John, it’s too early,” or “John, it’s cloudy,” but really? I would probably take him in the rain.

Now, granted: he will absolutely, positively, no way, no how — step off the beach blanket or enter the water. But he will sit or stand for long stretches as long as he has them near — his harem of happy monsters.

I’m more than a little jealous, as I imagine they are privy to more of him than I am. Why, for example, is this summer different from last? Why won’t he step off the blanket and run down the beach with me in hot pursuit? Not that I’m complaining — it’s been much easier to be at the beach together. But why did he hide under the blanket the first day as if his ears hurt from the surf and now he can smile serenely and be just a few feet from the crashing waves?

He brings his monsters up close to his face, lovingly, and talks excitedly to each. I make out, “Wake up Elmo…hello Zoe!” then watch as he lays each back down on the blanket, gentle as one must be with one’s babies.

July 31: The Whale

Two months in, Sam is a fish. An awkward fish perhaps, but most definitely a cute fish. Having finally mastered the art of holding his breath, he is all business. He starts by taking a deep, deep, deep, deep breath and then…

…he throws himself head first into the water, kicks loud and furious like a stampede of wild horses and then…

…his little fanny sticks out of the water like a mushroom cap.

When he can’t hold his breath any longer, he bolts up wide-eyed. His hair pasted to his forehead, covering his eyes, he gulps another deep, deep, deep, deep breath and he’s back under.

Sam is beyond excited, I don’t even know where he is on the spectrum of happiness, he is severely happy. He finally learned, by the way, after a little girl, a friend, showed him how it’s done. Peer pressure doing good things.

Yesterday while John and I waded at a safe distance from Sam, for the splashing was intense — John said “Whale?” Twins Dad will sometimes play a “whale” by shooting underwater to grab toes.

Sam heard, stopped and said, “John, say ‘READY, SET, GO!”

And John replied, “READY, SET, GO!!” which sent Sam flying over the water until he bobbed up with a grin. He said again, “John, say READY, SET, GO!” and of course John replied, “JOHN SAY READY SET GO!!!!”

This went on and on for oh, about twenty minutes. Laughter, dancing eyes, love. I think it’s the first time they have ever engaged in a back-and-forth game without any adult prompting.

Cutest. Thing. Ever.

July 2: Turtles and Sharks

This summer, Sam is a shark and John is a turtle — how apt.

They are attending the same summer camp — different groups, but still — it’s the first time they’ve been together since they were two. The kids are divided into groups according to ability, not disability, and whether the organizers intended it or not, the group names say a lot: Frogs, Turtles, Dolphins, Sharks.

Sam is a shark. He swims the social waters, always seeking the next experience, a new friend. Motivated and persistent, he never lacks for something to say. He is in one of the more advanced groups with boys his age and older.

John is a turtle. He lives inside his shell, he moves at a slower pace and is happiest with his own company. Everything must be examined closely, lovingly, preferably lined up on a counter. He is in a mostly younger group with children of varying disability.

We wanted to take a gamble with John: what would happen if we gave him a less structured environment. What if we said no to ESY, to a 1:1 ABA program — would he flounder and withdraw or would he swim?

It’s only been a week, but every day I hear he did something new: he intently observed, he sang songs with the others, he followed directions. Today, when called, he participated willingly.

There may be some shark in that boy yet. Love, love, love him.

July 1: A Moment by the Pool

I sit wrapped in a towel while the boys splash in the baby pool. We are waiting for the end of adult swim so Sam can return to the things he is trying to learn: jumping into the water, getting his face wet, remembering to keep his mouth closed — all things he insists on doing without his life vest since there are others here, boys from his class, who are already master swimmers. It is new to see Sam so self-conscious, so aware of these types of things.

I watch his smile stretch now as he notices, just moments after I have, two identical little boys. Twins like me and John! he shouts. I nod to their mother, who is on the other side. They are four and dressed in the same navy blue swim trunks and splash guards. I glance over at John — he is doing finger puppets and flicking them up in the air while yelling to the sky, Elmo, hello! Hello Elmo! Elmo has been going everywhere with us lately.

My gaze is drawn back to the twins in the water, Sam now between them. He is amazed at their size, their animated gestures and words — so am I, for that matter. I feel a twinge of what might have been, if only…if only…quickly followed by a stab of guilt that I would change anything, anything at all. But to see John talk like that to his brother…?

Sometimes it is hard, harder than anything I ever imagined.

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