Tag - play

Movie Date
Acting Boy
A Most Patient Cat
Back in Teletubby Land
Scenes from a Play Date

Movie Date

John still eats the same five things but lately has added popcorn. He loves popcorn. After school, he asks: “Watch movie in the basement and eat some popcorn?” I smile and oblige.

He gathers old friends together, a tall boy and his basket of buds from a wide swath of eras. This  boy, this boy who never really got pretend play, has lined them all up in front of the television to watch a movie and eat some popcorn.

You know, pretend play.

I am grateful. Day #2.

Acting Boy

Dude! My son is an actor. He sports dark shades and a blazer with a button-down. When we first started searching for an outfit for his “fancy clothes” cast party, he sobbed. I was confused at first, what is so anxiety-provoking about getting dressed up? He confessed, finally, “Alright, Mom. I’ll tell you the truth.”

Pray tell.

“I’m not a fancy clothes type of guy.”

I laughed aloud and hugged him, because Dude? I’m not a fancy clothes type of gal either. How I understood him right then. I reassured him he could wear khakis and a nice shirt if he’d rather. Friends dropped by with a bag — a jacket and tie, which Sam refused to look at. As the day got closer, though, curiosity got the best of him. “Can I see the fancy clothes?”

His eyes big, he said “I’d like to try it on.”

A Most Patient Cat

It’s hard to remember how scared of cats my kids used to be. Ever since we added this love to our family, there has been a thaw. John often gets down on the floor with the T-cat and squints into his fur. Sam likes to dress him up.

Troy is a willing model. As long as he’s in the thick of the action, he’s happy.

(Just don’t forget to scratch my ears).

Sam, who has memorized every U.S. president as well as the political party to which they each belong, says, “Look Mom, Troy is a Federalist. Like John Adams!”

There is dignity in toilet paper.

Back in Teletubby Land

My eyes open to your silly grin. As always, I hug a sliver of our king-size bed — you’ve trained me well over the years. Even when you don’t come bounding in at 2 a.m., I still awake curled at the very edge of the mattress and wonder why my body feels so tense.

There you are: peering over my pillow. You laugh and say,”Tubby custard!”


I have the odd sensation that I am in a video, trapped in Teletubby Land and you, John, are the eerie baby sun. Much cuter, of course.

“Uh-oh,” you say. “Mommy time to get up? Time to say hello?”

I will not lie: I had hoped we had seen the last of that foursome. Do you remember how you WOULD NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE without your Po doll in hand? There was the time you dropped her in a crowded store and we didn’t realize it until we were all the way home. Your daddy was so mad and so frantic to find her. (He did, of course, cursing her all the way.)

One day, John, you just stopped carrying Po. I placed her on a shelf with the others and three years passed.

And then this morning.

It’s the same but so very different. Back then you were silent — you certainly never recited lines from videos or locked eyes so intently with mine. So, yes —okay! I’ll sing with you! But can we leave Po at home today?

Tinkywinky. Dipsy. Laalaa. Po.
Teletubbies. “Teletubbies!”
Say, Heeeeee-lo! “Eh-oh!”


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.


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.

Scenes from a Play Date

I wish that I were the type of mother who came by her mothering skills naturally, who knew instinctively what normal looks like and did not always wonder, when faced with one of her children’s many quirks: Is that the autism or is that just quirky? Does quirky = autism?

Well, take today — Sam was invited to a classmate’s house for a play date. Because the other mom and I don’t know each other very well, she invites me to join them once John gets home from school. Lovely of her. She is very nice and I am happy to get to know someone who has been nothing but warm to me, especially since we just met the week before at soccer.

John gets home, I grab his itouch and we start loading into the car. John is excited and says, “Sam school?” I tell him, no, we’re going to get Sam at a friend’s house. As soon as we arrive, John rushes by the other mom and heads upstairs. I have no idea why — he’s never been here, but the mom waves him up, saying that there’s nothing he can get into there. I’m reluctant to have him out of sight, but now Sam runs up to me dressed up as a Ninja Turtle. His little friend is behind him, dressed as a boxer, and looking a tad impatient.

I take in the scene. This little boy seems a lot more mature than Sam and I’m sensing the play date isn’t going that great. That’s okay, right? Not every play date is going to be terrific, but it looks like at least they both wanted to play dress-up. The other mom says something to her son and he and Sam turn and head back downstairs. She beckons me towards the kitchen and offers me a drink. We trade chit-chat — she’s a school counselor I had no idea, she knows someone I know…

And she IS lovely, this is lovely — the idea that I’m the type of mother who gets to have coffee with another mom because our kids are having a play date. But it’s a sham because I am not able to relax. There’s one boy above me and one below. Who knows what John is getting into. And Sam’s face? It looked a little lost and confused even if determined. He can be persistent when trying to play. So I say, “I’m just going to check on John,” and excuse myself.

Upstairs, I find him splayed on the older sister’s bed. The older sister is, of course, also there and looks a little aghast at the sight of him there atop her many pink pillows. “Oooohh boy,” I say, forcing a smile, “sorry he stormed into your room, what a surprise that must have been!” and I scoop him up.

Downstairs, I give John his itouch, hoping it will keep him grounded, and I rejoin the other mom. Her son joins us with a sigh. I ask him where Sam is. At that moment Sam comes yelling up the stairs: “IT’S POOPY TIME! IT’S POOPY TIME!” and heads towards the bathroom. I’m sure my face is red. The other mom says “It’s movie time?” I say no and suddenly I see she gets it.

Even though I know it’s coming, I pray it’s not.


So let me ask you. Is this behavior, Sam’s that is:
a) typical 5-year-old acting out?
b) attributable to being on the spectrum?
c) bad parenting?

I’m thinking maybe c? — have got to teach that boy to wipe his own butt.

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