I was at the doctors office today picking up a medical clearance form for the older one to play sports on her school team. In the corner of the lobby I saw little boy playing with some plastic dinosaurs. As little ones will do, he had them clomping and chomping around, roaring at each other – he was having a great time. He must’ve been no more than maybe three or four years old. This realization initially made me sigh, a sigh of mild depression. I thought about Brooke, who just now at the age of 10 is starting to do what this boy was doing. She plays with her dolls, they do imaginary play, she goes back and forth. Much of it is based on shows she has seen, but there is definitely adaptation and creation. She has lately been, for lack of a better word, back filling the gaps in her learning. The way she is acquiring skills and knowledge is not linear like the way many of us learned things, but rather she skips and hops and circles back and then does it all over again.
It’s tough to see your ten year old clumsily do what five, four and even three years old kids do with deft ease.
But then I thought of Katie. She is twelve…twelve going on what sometimes feels like forty three. She is flying at her teenage years at the speed of light while simultaneously trying desparately to hold on to her younger years. Thank who or whatever it is in the sky that she still thinks boys are essentially yucky. Both Jess and I can feel her growing more independent, and that is both a wonderful and scary thing (not just for her, but for her mommy and daddy as well). Katie will occasionally act like she would like to be five or six again, but it is always just that, an act. I’m not saying it is disingenuous by any means, but the bottom line is she is twelve and there is no going back from that.
But things are different with Brooke aren’t they? Perhaps her form of autism, perhaps the differences that make her autistic have a silver lining that we (Jess & I) have failed to see in our hurry to see our kids grow up. At some point, all parents realize that time doesn’t stand still. Even with that realization, we don’t fully appreciate it until we wake up one morning to find our children have become young adults. Even if we DO appreciate it, there is nothing we can do to stop the passage of time, the progress of growth, the emergence of maturity.
Perhaps, just maybe, this disordered path in time that Brooke seems to be walking on can be seen as a gift to me and to Jess…an opportunity to really see those moments when imaginative play emerges, to be able to witness the wonder of childhood discovery all over again and then sometimes yet again.
Quite possibly a hidden blessing indeed.