Autism

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sonshine…for his mother (and father, too)

Little One

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Little One in black and white

Little One in black and white


Did you just call me a slob…again?

We were sitting on the couch, my little one and I, with his mom on the love-seat across from us, watching a movie.  We had a bowl of popcorn between us, and as my little one reclined into one of the pillows, he took handfuls of the popcorn and not so delicately or accurately plied the fluffy stuff into his mouth.  When the majority of the bowl was gone, he started playing with the pieces of popcorn, alternately flicking them into his mouth or smashing them in his palm and then licking-up the pieces like a dog.  We paused the movie occasionally to ask or answer a question, to run to the bathroom, get a refill of one of our drinks or the other…and then continued watching and eating and enjoying the movie and each other’s company.  The further into the bowl we got, the more broken pieces of popcorn there were on the little one’s blanket, pillow, pajamas, and surrounding couch area.

I reached over to pick-up some of the crumbs and broken pieces to put them back in the bowl…and made a mistake….

“Do you think you’re making a big enough mess, you little slob?”

Quiet.

Did you just…call me a slob?

My little one asked this with a quivering chin and downcast eyes as he picked a piece of popcorn off of the blanket beneath his chin and placed it anxiously into his mouth.

“Well yeah, look at the mess…hey….”

There were big alligator tears and an immediately running nose and the sobbing of words and half words that I couldn’t understand between his crying and the movie and his mom and my questioning and….

“Hey there…I was just playing….”

Why…did you…call…me that?  What was…why are you….

And more tears…and my heart was breaking at his breaking heart and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and oh….

“Hey, Buddy, look at me,” as I patted his foot, “I was only playing…you’re making such a mess here…hey…look…I was only playing.”  I reached over and dragged him to me….  “Hey…I call your mom a slob too, sometimes…when she makes a mess…I wasn’t trying to be mean….”

And his chest was shaking and he was wiping tears across his face and his mom brought over a Kleenex to blow his nose…and I was holding back a smile in my amazement and tears in my sadness at how I had just crushed his little heart…his daddy calling him a slob.

“Hey there…why are you crying?  I was only playing….”

I…don’t like…being…called names.

“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry, Buddy.  I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings or upset you…I was just playing with you.”

I accept your…apology.  Sniff….

An important aspect of my little one’s life and existence, at this point in his eight years (now eleven), and possibly for many more years as he learns to decipher and remember the various meanings of our vast array of socially constructed and freighted expressions and intentions and nuanced meanings, is his acceptance of things as they are presented to him.  He doesn’t see the gray or shading in many of our words and intentions.  The idiosyncrasies of our speech and the subtle and not-so-subtle meanings of our paired words sometimes escape him, even when we’re joking around…they mean, to him, what they literally mean.  In my playing, I forgot about the concreteness of his brilliant little mind…and the tenderness of his easily broken heart.

Oh…how it hurts sometimes….

*****

This is a Favorite Re-post from April, 2010.


How much longer…?

Innocence smiles large as the boys rescue The Cube and ride their motorized scooter and roller-blades about the cul-de-sac, announcing to me in passing that they are on their way to destroy Megatron.  Hood up on his sweatshirt jacket, my little one is on the roller-blades and moves awkwardly about, wheel-walking, not rolling, strange dance of plastic and clatter rushing off to secure some imagined zone.

The December sky is gray with fat and heavy clouds; an occasional breeze or gust of wind ripples the overgrown palm fronds and the garbage truck is making its Tuesday afternoon rounds in the neighborhood a couple streets in the distance.  My grandson is on the motorized scooter and is wearing orange, star-shaped sunglasses to shield him against the glare of battle in his efforts to defeat the Transformers’ foes.  My little one’s enthusiasm for the game is waning as a little trio of afternoon walkers enter and make a circuit of the cul-de-sac – a young mother-girl pushing her baby in a stroller as grandmother walks with her Down’s Syndrome old-man of a son in a straw cowboy hat who marvels at the Samoyed who is sticking his nose and white head through the hole at the bottom of the neighbor’s backyard wall.  The cling-cling of the bicycle bell and the metallic crash as the bike crunches into the sidewalk and the garbage truck is still a few streets away.

“Can we go in now?”

“Don’t you want to play two-player on the Nintendo?” he says, as he kneels in the rocks and examines a pigeon feather, “Don’t you want to?”

“No, not really.”

“Dad, can we go inside in 15 minutes?”

Ok.

He likes to orient things and events and know when they are going to happen.  It helps him predict his world.  He’s happier and less anxious that way.  It settles his mind as the blanket of gray clouds part and roll into white balls with gray bottoms and a mini-bike just ripped and popped down the street behind us, throwing angry and irritating ripples and waves through the neighborhood air.

“How long has it been, Dad?”

What?

I’m reading my new book, The Good Soldiers, between glances up and into the cul-de-sac and at the Transformer warrior-children and vehicles entering for deliveries or exiting for errands and whatnot.

“How much longer?”

“The post is loose on the scooter, Grandpa,” as he sucks the winter snot back into his nose and as the little one, his uncle, my youngest, talks to his dog through the side-yard gate….

“Hi Wilson,” sing-song, puppy-talk, baby-talk, talking-to-my-dog-through-the-gate-talk, sing-song “Hi buddy!”

Crunching gravel, walking scuffing, scraping, and dragging shoes through the landscaping stones.  Ping! Ping!  Ping!  Ping!  Ping!  A piece of gravel rock on the basketball pole.  Ping!  Ping!  Ping!

“How much longer, Papa?  How mucho longa?”

I’m on page 27…For now, no one touched the tape dispenser.  Eventually, Cummings would begin swatting flies just hard enough to stun them, stick them to a piece of tape, and drop them alive into his trash can, which would be something that did have an effect.  “I hate flies,” he would say each time he did this.  What?

“Is it time yet?”

Did you park your bike and scoot it all the way over so Mom can open her door after she’s parked the car?

“I will.”

Ok.

“Are you done Blakie?  Hey!”

“What?”

“Do you want to go in now?”

Cling! Cling! Cling!  “Beep beep!”

“There’s a warning.”

What, Blake?

“There’s a warning.”

What kind of warning?

“There was a rain drop.”

Oh, ok.

And the garbage truck is getting nearer and the little one is dragging his toes across the driveway and he’s got a Kool-aid moustache as he grins at me and says “What?”

“How many more minutes?  Dad?” as he stands on the apache-red boulder rock in his one-legged pose with his arms raised like a stork’s wings…from The Karate Kid…and a game of chicken in the roadway as my grandson comes at him on the motorized scooter…and repeated “Yaaaaah!” screams and “How much longer?” asked with a Pink Panther French accent this time.

“Hhow mush longherre?”

One minute.

“Ok……Blakie!!  It’s time to go in!”

***This is a Favorite Re-post from December, 2009.


Toys as Tools….

We all have our tool-boxes for our trades and professions…some of us might have literal boxes with the known tools of screwdrivers and hammers and levels and wrenches…bottles of oil that shoot smoke into engine compartments that help us find leaks in hoses, or figurative boxes with our paint brushes and palates, pencils and erasers, thumb-drives, bags with cameras and lenses and film (maybe), reference books, mortars and pistils, surveying chains, books of flight plans and maps, stethoscopes and syringes…or whatever.   And some of us have other things…like years and years of advanced education and hundreds of books…and hundreds of toys…things that stimulate minds to thinking…or relax them from their stressors…things that unknowingly open the doors of others’ minds so that those who are interested in helping them can finally see inside, can finally see the things that have been hidden for so long…because they didn’t know how to open those doors and windows on their own. 

My wife is one of those people who has a tool box that contains those many years of education and hundreds of books and hundreds of toys…and who is skilled at opening minds and helping the bearers of those minds to find ways of expressing themselves…helping them find ways of communicating even with themselves…and then drawing maps for the rest of us to follow when trying to understand those minds so we can enter and share their previously closed-off worlds.  She works with autistic children and their families…spends hours on the floor with brightly colored toys and objects, pushing, searching, compelling, and connecting with those little ones…gently pressing and urging them into opening their minds….

This past Saturday, I stopped-by my wife’s office to pick-up her laptop…and, since I had my camera with me…I took a few pictures of the toys that decorate her office, those “tools” that draw smiles and widened eyes on the faces of even the most reserved and stoic of fathers who accompany their little ones to their appointments, those tools that are often selected specifically for that particular little one to whom they would appeal.  I think it would be wonderful to visit such an exciting and even calming place if I was going there for help….and I can understand the little ones’ distress when their sessions are over and it’s time to leave such a fun place…a place where they think they’re just playing…but are actually building a relationship, learning the social rules of give and take, finding words they didn’t know they had, and allowing someone into their world, sometimes for the very first and significant time.

The children often take these figures and play-out little portions of their lives with the other settings in the office.  In addition to the doll house and fire/police station, my wife also has a sand-box and a little multi-leveled tree house that makes a great landscape for their adventures and re-enactments (the photos didn’t turn-out very well).


Sometimes, alone is ok….

Yes, sometimes alone is good, for it can be and often is, when we are in that state of separation from others, that we have the liberty of thought and volition to see ourselves through our own eyes…and maybe find ourselves again.  While input and feedback are good, as those others’ eyes can see things that we do not or cannot see in ourselves, self-reflection can be as healthy…and necessary.

In this alone-time, we can also find confidence to persevere in whatever circumstances, or to re-orient ourselves toward earlier and possibly more important goals, redirect ourselves, reprioritize…or even resign, let go after the stress of life and reflection, because we know or understand that further effort would be a waste or a surrendering, or even a sacrificing of ourselves for something or someone who is no longer worth the emotion and energy to do more, or to futilely attempt to do more.  The quiet helps us regroup when a room is too loud, when our life is too loud, or even when it’s just too loud in our heads…our minds.

Sometimes alone is good, in that it allows us to empty our minds of the pressures or concerns that are so draining; we can remove those issues and simply be in a state of openness of mind that has nothing in it, maybe nothing other than an awareness of ourselves, or an awareness of nature and its awesome enormity that allows or urges us to see that our own concerns are nothing, or very minimal, in the grand scale of life and time that exists outside of ourselves, and out in the ever that is.

Solitude can also help us remember the precious or special things that exist in the people who people our lives; it helps us remember the things that drew us to them in the beginning and have sustained our desires to be with them since; it can give us a glimpse of absence and what comes after….  Sometimes, alone is good.


Don’t touch me, please….

Don’t touch me, please, just leave me alone, and if you talk to me, just look across the room when you’re doing so, because I’ll be doing the same, I’ll be looking away, but listening, and listening still, I’ll see the words in their letters bound, with all the possible meanings that might be there, I’ll stop, I’ll halt, I’ll run along, I’ll interrupt, I’ll be not calm, my hands will wander, my fingers will pick and pry, I’ll look at you when you’re looking away, but I’ll be listening still and listening still.

When you walk away from our talk’s circuitous talk, I’ll wonder still at the words and then.  I’ll wonder for a while and decide, and then I’ll send them away, like you, in their categories, their phrases and their speaking and thoughts.  I understood it all, or most of it and then, sometimes I got some of it, but not all of it, and it registers in some forms, but not in others’ nuances.  It makes sense most times or sometimes, but not in other times, and you won’t know which it is, in these or those, not now nor then.

Sometimes your words scrape the insides of my ears before they reach my brain.  I hear their clicking and crunching ways and the wet spit that sticks to their sides, I notice when some letters are missing, like when your mouth gets lazy or you talk too fast, they catch in my ear canals when you say them wrongly, improperly, incorrectly, out of place, out of tune, out of context, in error, in mis-thought, whatever, when you emphasize the wrong syllable or say coush instead of couch.  The letters get jammed up in my ears sometimes so the other words can’t get through and then I hear your voice rise and rise and the letters get more jammed still, they run and run and crash into the sides of my insides, my ears and veins and arteries, too, they make my lungs pump harder and harder and faster still, the words are still clogged in their letters’ catching and the thoughts are gone and the letters become numbers and I hate numbers and they’re all a-squiggle and mean nothing as my heart is pounding in my head and my fingers pick their other fingers and everything gets fuzzy from the inside, hazy and undefined and I don’t know what you’re saying and thinking and your eyes are piercing when I glance at them for a micro-second from my turned head and I hear the spit in the corners of your mouth squish and squash as your mouth flaps and keeps throwing other words and letters into my ears and I wish you’d just shut-up and leave me alone and please don’t touch me, just go away, don’t step any closer or any closer, don’t talk any louder or any louder, just close your mouth and leave before I explode in your face with my eyes wide wide open and hands curled into fists and I’m staring straight ahead but looking for something to throw or hit and my hands crash into my head and I scream at you and pull my hair and scratch my face and I’m suddenly strong with a stupid strong and you can’t hold me, no, get away, leave me alone, stop talking, don’t touch me, the letters are all stuck and I hate you and I hate me and you get away from me and what do you want and what did I say and my cat died when I was four and you went on those stupid interviews and it snowed today and it rained today and where’s the goddamned sun today and it’s okay if you’re shy and I didn’t have a melt-down so that I wouldn’t have to finish my homework and I said it myself and the baby was crying and I just wanted to help and go away, just get away, and stop with the words, don’t touch me, put your eyes away…and hold me, crush me, just wrap me up, hum a deep hum deep into my core and the parts of my cells, just be a nothing with me for a minute more, until I don’t feel these things anymore, just for a minute more, long minutes more, until the letters get unstuck in my ears and I can hear what you’re saying again, just leave me alone, don’t touch me, please…but don’t let me go.


What about the remains…?

My little one questioned the pile of branches and limbs with their dead and rotted cores, the grayed sticks that used to reach and wave magestically above the surround of our yard…and house the denizen birds and whatnot that came to live in their shadow and shade.  He asked if he could have some of the sticks to build a fort and I told him no.  I told him no because “You already have your swingset-fort thing that I added to and now it’s a hideaway with all the walls and elevated table-bed…just like you wanted.  Don’t you remember how you cried and pleaded for it?”  Yes.  He didn’t ask where all the branches came from, he just entered the house and went about his “I just got home from school” routine that included going to the bathroom, hanging-up his back-pack and jacket, and then letting his dog in from the back yard.

My little one walked into the yard after opening the door for his dog and found that the cottonwood that had been his shade and companion for his entire eight years of life had been greatly diminished since he left for school this morning.  In the summer and fall, it covered his swingset-fort-house thing in full shade.  That far corner of the yard was always cooler in the extreme heat of our Arizona seasons.  Sitting on the bench beneath the grand tree was one of our family’s favorite pasttimes, enjoying the cool shade, the birds overhead in their many and favored spots, and the rustle of the millions of leaves clapping and shimmering in the many evening breezes.  Somehow, during the past summer, it either caught a bug or suffered more intensely from the summer’s heat than it has in the past.  Midway through the year, the leaves turned brown on one branch and then on another and another, until finally, the top two-thirds of the tree was dead.  The birds would still visit the tree in their more sparse numbers, but gone are the days of hundreds of them congregating overhead and chatting down the sun.

The last monsoon season blew down several large branches and we often wondered how much longer the skeleton tree would last.  Given that it’s in the corner of our yard and there are three other neighbors’ yards on the other sides of our fence in that corner, we were concerned that branches would break away and fly into their yards during another storm and cause some unknown degree of damage to the neighbors’ yards or houses.  Anyway, after trimming the date palm that reaches over and into our southern neighbor’s yard, I finally got out the chainsaw-alligator-jawed apparatus to cut the limbs, rope to pull them down into our yard precisely where I wanted them to land, in our yard, and the extension-pole-saw-thing that I usually use to trim the palm trees.  Four hours later, the bottom half of the tree was bare, the ground raked clean, and all the branches and limbs hauled out to the front curb, from which the city will soon take them away.

And my little one walked into the yard and surveyed the damage, climbed up into his cedar swingset-fort-house kind of thing, got a piece of chalk out of the can and lined-through his earlier printed sign that said “Cottonwood Observatory.”  He then wrote in his squiggly hand as he hung from the rock-wall-climbing thing, “Closed Permanently.”

The somber mood was cast.  Deliberate steps around the yard, walking around the swingset, climbing up to the top level, walking about, climbing down, swinging on the swing, eyes downcast, and none of his usual happy antics.  I had to ask/tell him to do certain things two or three times each in the several minutes that we’d been home, so I wondered if he was fading a little from not eating all of his lunch.  I finally managed to get him to decide what he wanted to eat and then set about preparing it.  He wanted “sopa,” or ramen noodles, “the kind that smells good,” which is the chicken flavored variety.

It was only a couple minutes after we both sat at the table until his tears started and the sobs came out as my little one told me that he didn’t want the cottonwood to be dead.  Between gulps of air and crying he told me that the tree has been there all of his life and that it always shaded his swingset from the sun and he wants me to get another one right away.  He wants the big tree to be there again because the yard doesn’t look the same, it’s different now.  He doesn’t like different, my little one.  He likes consistency and routine and to know what’s happening next; he’s less anxious that way…and now his tree is gone.

About a year and a half ago, when my wife and little one and a couple of his older siblings were living in Utah for a year, the landlord came to the house one day and cut down my little one’s favorite tree.  It was nearing the end of the lease and the landlord and his family were going to be moving back into the house.  He thought he’d get an early start on redesigning and landscaping the back yard…and he started by cutting down and removing some of the trees, and the one tree in particular that my little one climbed almost every day.  It was his hideaway, his place to recover from the storm of school and a life in a new house with new people in his life and without his dog and his dad and other siblings.  His world was upside down, or sideways, anyway…and he would climb the tree to be by himself, to find that peace again that he needed to be ok in his unsettled world.

So I thought about all of that today, limb by limb, and branch by branch, as I started “chopping down” my little one’s beloved cottonwood…and I wondered if he’d be ok, rather, I wondered how long it would take for him to be ok again.

And he sat there at the table with his tears covering his cheeks and the little trails of snot running from his nose and down into his ramen noodles…and asked, “But what about the remains?”


Did you just call me a slob?

We were sitting on the couch, my little one and I, with his mom on the love-seat across from us, watching a movie.  We had a bowl of popcorn between us, and as my little one reclined into one of the pillows, he took handfuls of the popcorn and not so delicately or accurately plied the fluffy stuff into his mouth.  When the majority of the bowl was gone, he started playing with the pieces of popcorn, alternately flicking them into his mouth or smashing them in his palm and then licking-up the pieces like a dog.  We paused the movie occasionally to ask or answer a question, to run to the bathroom, get a refill of one of our drinks or the other…and then continued watching and eating and enjoying the movie and each other’s company.  The further into the bowl we got, the more broken pieces of popcorn there were on the little one’s blanket, pillow, pajamas, and surrounding couch area.

I reached over to pick-up some of the crumbs and broken pieces to put them back in the bowl…and made a mistake….

“Do you think you’re making a big enough mess, you little slob?”

Quiet.

Did you just…call me a slob?

My little one asked this with a quivering chin and downcast eyes as he picked a piece of popcorn off of the blanket beneath his chin and placed it anxiously into his mouth.

“Well yeah, look at the mess…hey….”

There were big alligator tears and an immediately running nose and the sobbing of words and half words that I couldn’t understand between his crying and the movie and his mom and my questioning and….

“Hey there…I was just playing….”

Why…did you…call…me that?  What was…why are you….

And more tears…and my heart was breaking at his breaking heart and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and oh….

“Hey, Buddy, look at me,” as I patted his foot, “I was only playing…you’re making such a mess here…hey…look…I was only playing.”  I reached over and dragged him to me….  “Hey…I call your mom a slob too, sometimes…when she makes a mess…I wasn’t trying to be mean….”

And his chest was shaking and he was wiping tears across his face and his mom brought over a Kleenex to blow his nose…and I was holding back a smile in my amazement and tears in my sadness at how I had just crushed his little heart…his daddy calling him a slob.

“Hey there…why are you crying?  I was only playing….”

I…don’t like…being…called names.

“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry, Buddy.  I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings or upset you…I was just playing with you.”

I accept your…apology.  Sniff….

An important aspect of my little one’s life and existence, at this point in his eight years, and possibly for many more years as he learns to decipher and remember the various meanings of our vast array of socially constructed and freighted expressions and intentions and nuanced meanings, is his acceptance of things as they are presented to him.  He doesn’t see the gray or shading in many of our words and intentions.  The idiosyncrasies of our speech and the subtle and not-so-subtle meanings of our paired words sometimes escape him, even when we’re joking around…they mean, to him, what they literally mean.  In my playing, I forgot about the concreteness of his brilliant little mind…and the tenderness of his easily broken heart.

Oh…how it hurts sometimes….


Field Day

When I was a child and participating in “Field Day” events at school, it was usually a full-day event and took place sometime during the last several weeks of class.  The races were timed, the distances jumped were measured, etc, and when it was all done and over, some people were awarded prize ribbons and certificates for their accomplished feats.  Field Day appears to be different today, at least different in measurements of distance and time…for the first and second-graders, anyway.  Maybe it’s still a competitive process in the higher grades, as it was when I was a child, and as it was when my older kids were participating in this annual event in the recollections of my memory, but today, as my little one partook of this pre-springtime event, there were no markings of time and distance…those things or notions were replaced with a lot of jumping up and down and handclapping and high-fives.  I guess everyone won…except in the tug-of-war.  It was double-elimination and the victors were celebrated as the “best” of second-grade.  They wore green shirts and appeared to be larger and were comprised of more bodies than the other second-grade classes were…and they won three times and didn’t lose once, so they were the best.

My little one asked me yesterday if I would be able to attend his Field Day events today.  I hadn’t been prepared to do so, given my normal middle-of-the-week-days-off routine that I try to maintain, but given that none of the routinely done things were of supreme importance, and given that this was not going to be a full-day event, I thought I could find an hour or so to spend at the little one’s school with him…an hour or so out of a two-hour event.  Ok.

I stopped at the corner convenience store to get a bottle of water for my family’s Field Day participant and then parked in front of his school and walked around to the rear of the property where I had earlier seen groups of kids with similarly colored shirts running around or jumping in some organized and supervised fashion, as compared to lunch-time recess periods where there is no semblance of patterned behavior.  Anyway, I spied my little one on the enclosed tennis court riding a miniature skateboard type contrivance…on his knee, scooting about in his red shirt, away from the event participants…on his own…head down and riding about in a singular and individual event of his own.  I approached the chain-linked fence and said “Hey there!”  My little one initially jumped up onto the fence and started to climb, but looked up and realized the ten feet would be a bit much to scale and dropped to the ground and turned and ran out the gate and around to where I was on the other side of the fence.  It was a full-body hug that greeted me as I embraced him and noted his wet hair and shirt.  His smile was big and his speech animated as he told me what was happening and where he and his class were supposed to go, immediately, as the lady just blew the air-horn that signified that the classes were to change events.  The little one ran off to catch-up with his teacher as she marched in the direction of the long-jump track and pit that had been decorated with different colored construction paper signs that didn’t appear to mean anything, as they were not at marked intervals and nobody appeared to notice them until one of the contestants landed full-shin onto one of them.  The child was checked for blood and bruise and the little papered stick was again inserted into the edge of the pit where it had earlier stood unchecked.  My little one stood and milled-about with his friends, alternately drinking from his water bottle or recapping it and placing it into his shorts pocket.  Somehow or other, he managed to stay toward the rear of the group of children who were progressing ever forward to it being their turn to run and jump, and in a few moments, he came running over to me and leaned against me and started telling me about his friend Justin being a real dork…as he stumbled over his words to give me examples of such dorkiness, but couldn’t find any, so just reasserted with a laugh, that he really was a dork and could I stay there so he could get Justin and bring him over to meet me.  I told him that it would be ok, but asked first if he didn’t need to go and jump or something with the rest of his class.  My little one said that we would go over there and see, but didn’t seem too concerned…as he walked over to Justin and kicked the wall and said something and turned to look at me and watched as Justin also kicked the wall and they talked for a few seconds and then both came running over to me.  The introduction was less formal than I had thought it would be, given that my little one is very fond of making formal introductions with his friends, but greetings were made, the little one asserted again that Justin was a dork, and laughed and looked down at his shoes poking the dirt, and glanced sideways at Justin, trying to find an example, again, of his dorkiness…and still couldn’t…and then another kid came over with another less than formal introduction…and then the horn blew again and they all ran off together to participate in the Iceberg Relay.  Strange, I don’t remember that event from all of the Field Days of my youth.  Maybe it’s a new-teacher generational thing…or something more fitting of the earlier-than-spring-time Field Days of Arizona, as opposed to my early-summer Field Days of Germany.  At any rate, the kids stretched into a line, full class length, and passed a two-liter soda-bottle shaped chunk of ice to each other in the full-length line of kids from one end of the class line to the other and then cheered as they were finished and won or didn’t win and I guess it didn’t or doesn’t matter…as the train rumbled past the southern edge of the school ground and honked or blew its own horn and clattered and clattered in its passing of its freighted self beyond the groups of kids and their same-colored shirts.

And my little one came over to me and leaned into me again and said he wondered if he could go home with me when it came time for me to leave, as he looked at the ground and mumbled his words and kicked the pebble or grass or something down there by his kicking and poking foot.  He said the stuff they were going to do after lunch was probably so boring that he thought he’d fall asleep in class so wouldn’t it be better if he just came home with me…as it sounded like his chin was quivering.  I told him that he’d probably be fine…and that it seems to make him sad when I come to school to see him…and I wanted to take him home then, or take him to the book store, or run by McDonalds and get him his favorite lunch with an M-n-M McFlurry for dessert…I wanted to give him the world because he asked for it, because he asked me for it…and he sensed the emptiness or meaninglessness of the day’s events and wanted to read, again, the book that he was reading in the truck on the way to school this morning, or climb in his swing-set tree-house kind of thing in his backyard with his dog watching him…and when he came running over to me later, when he was supposed to be participating in the 40 yard-dash, with the two little girls from his class, Arianna and Paris, they asked me if my little one really was a scientist…and how could I do anything other than answer that yes, he was working on being a scientist and he studies volcanoes and the bugs in his yard and he holds a vet-clinic in his bedroom when his dog is sick…so yes, he’s like a scientist, really.

And I was happy and sad when the last event was over and the kids in all of their different and same colored shirts aligned themselves into those lines by shirt color and teacher and marched and skipped or walked and made it, somehow, off the playground and away and back toward the building where they would spend the afternoon…as my little one went dutifully away in his sad or thoughtful self, walking and tossing his water bottle from one hand to the other or holding it still and kicking the air with a black-belt-ninja karate move…and going his dutiful way, back into school as I walked and went away without him…and Field Day was over…so soon and done.