The Spinning Arrow
Here’s what I want.
It’s ten, fifteen years from now, early evening, mid-August. The sun’s still up, it’s warm, but not oppressively so.
I’m walking down a tree-lined street of old brick houses. Beside me, or maybe running in circles around me, is a sturdy little presence. Boy or girl, doesn’t matter. Maybe four or five, maybe older.
Talking non-stop about dinosaurs. Or trains. Or the War of the Roses. With an unsettlingly mature vocabulary and an alien cadence and a manic light in their eyes. They cannot be shut up. I wouldn’t want them to shut up.
The buzz of their monologue harmonizes with the sound of someone somewhere nearby mowing their lawn.
The kid tells me something I had never heard before. I’m surprised. It wasn’t so long ago that my wife and I were the only source of information this kid had.
And now look.
We arrive at the grocery store to buy dinner. We have to buy certain brands, we have to buy things in a certain order.
These are routines. These are rituals. This is holy.
The kid is not aware of how much their voice carries.
“Indoor voice, please,” I say. Maybe they listen this time, maybe they don’t. Oh well, the worst case scenario is that a bunch of shoppers get a surprise history lesson.
We walk home, using the same route as always.
This is important. This is necessary. This is order.
Dinner’s prepared, and eaten, and the three of us- myself, the kid, my wife- talk. About what, who knows. Doesn’t matter. We talk.
Afterward, maybe T.V. or reading or some kind of game. Maybe a little parallel play.
There are very specific bedtime rituals. I know them as well as I know the history of the Canadian National Railway, and for the same reason.
I know it won’t be paradise. Sometimes there will be meltdowns, and concerned teachers, and- as John Green once wrote- “great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet.”
This is acceptable. This is manageable. This is life.
I’m astonished when I encounter parents who do not want their child to have Asperger’s, or who would rather have a normal child.
I don’t know what I’d do with a normal child. I’m not sure I’d be able to cope. Asperger’s is not just a disability. It’s a way of perceiving and experiencing the world. It’s a way of thinking and feeling. I want to be able to share these things with my child. I want them to be able to share things with me that I don’t know anything about yet. I want that life.