We were asked by a good friend Kim Mimnaugh to be a part of her wonderful project called, Autism: A Portrait of Mothers and Sons. I know Kim through the Y, as I work with her son Will. Will is the first child I officially worked with who has autism. He likes me to sing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" and he'll say, "Amy say, 'follow the yellow brick, follow the yellow brick, follow the yellow brick rooooooad' ". Once, in the gym, he pointed to an open window where announcers would be during a game and he said, "There's a MAN in there."
Recently, when Will got his hand shut in a door, the first person he went to was me. I think that he is an amazing boy and that his mom, Kim, is amazing, too.
Kim came to see us on Memorial Day, where the sky was hazy with smoke from the fires in Canada. It was a little eerie to see everything so dark in the middle of the day. We took a walk around the new neighborhood and she took a few pictures. The one she took of us which she chose to use on her site is just awesome:
I mean, look how HUGE Nate is (and my hands, who knew?). He's not 8 yet and he's already under my chin. I love the houses reflected in the window and how we both have that "seriously pensive" look. I always admire how other people see us in photographs, and Kim is no exception. She just captured that moment, and it's wonderful. I take pictures of me all the time, but I'm never able to encapsulate the proper perspective, or in truth, and objective perspective. And this is just us, as we are, not all gussied up (well...I did gussy up a little bit). It's what we're all about, no fillers or artificial preservatives. It is the rawness of us that entrances me. I admire his ever growing height, the way his emotions flash across his face like lightening, the way he'll contort his body if he's excited or angry.
He's very much like me, but he's also his own person. It's starting to show in how he interacts with others, how he holds my hands less, how he'll sometimes hide his feelings. That is who he is, and even though he has a lot to learn and to experience, the fact that he's slowly coming into his own is fascinating to watch.
I hear other parents and folks tell me that Nathan is so polite and well behaved, and that is what every parents wants to hear about their children. It's that picture you paint on the canvas of your brain. It's never easy to hear that the picture you painted is different, and then, like a defeated creative, you throw a bucket of black paint at it and tear it down and are frustrated by your "inabilities" as an artist.
I guess for the most part, I am surprised when I expect one picture say, a Picasso:
And people will describe another picture by the same artist:
Same artist, same medium, but different perspectives. Nathan is still Nathan and will always be: but sometimes, as parents, we picture one thing and when we hear another, we are either delightfully surprised or incredibly horrified. I am happy to say that most folks will report to me of Nathan in the "delightfully surprised" category.
I always figure people see me in the "wierdo" light, that I'm not quite normal enough to pass for "normal". I have social anxiety where I will not go to a social event in order to prevent and protect myself from being myself, which is really self defeating and self depreciating. I know this, but I do it anyway. However...the folks at the ARC aren't having it. Sharane, who I work with, has literally been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to socializing. She doesn't take no for an answer, and will work around any loop hole you can possible come up with. So, I had to confess my bizarro anxiety, which gave me more anxiety (or as I like to call it agita: from the Italian: agitare ; to make upset) and Sharane was like, "Hey, it's all good, and we're all weird so just come out and have fun."
I went bowling a few weeks ago and last Saturday, went to her birthday party where everyone was SO nice and friendly. It was very encouraging to me. I hide that part of me very well, but I'm tired of skulking behind that huge anxiety built wall. Tired of being terrified of venturing out of my comfort zone. Exhausted about how people "see" me. They don't picture me the way I do and perhaps I need a fresh perspective on myself.
What is your perspective?