Past, Present, Future.

Study the past, if you would divine the future.

Confucius

How much of your daily life do you remember from when you were in kindergarten?  I can tell you that I don’t even remember my kindergarten teachers’ names.  I remember nothing but a couple snapshots in my head.

This had to be before kindergarten but it was the best I could do... I look sooo Asian here. Even that changed!

I attended kindergarten at a church.  There was no kindergarten at the elementary school I attended.   But I also attended Vacation Bible School at that church so I don’t know whether I’m mixing up that Bible School memory with kindergarten or not, but I have a strong, persistent memory of singing “How Great Thou Art” from a HUGE storybook with the words and pictures of Jesus.  Now the book may not have been that huge but that is my memory of it.  I remember being both in awe of the book, and excited to sing at the same time.

The only other thing I, vaguely, recall is playing outside the church in an asphalt-covered, play area.  I know I finger painted and had show-and-tell.  I could not describe the classroom.  I could tell you the names of some of my classmates but that’s all.  Did I know their names during kindergarten?  I don’t recall.

For my son, kindergarten is a present, dominant and happy part of his world.  He loves going to school.  He is full of joy when participating with his friends on the playground, in the gym, or classroom.  Here he is for 30 seconds playing parachute in class…

Participation and pulling back.  There are so many things that set him apart from the rest of the class.  The other kids play together.  He wanders.  They talk to each other.  He talks, mostly to himself.  The other kids raise their hands and respond when called on.  He shows no outward signs of paying attention.  He does not answer questions the teacher asks to the class as a whole.  He often does not answer when addressed directly, until he’s prompted by his aide.

Was I a hand raiser in kindergarten?  I don’t remember…  I know I was a hand-raiser in grade school at some point.  How different was I from him at his age?  Do you ever ask yourself these questions as a parent?  And why am I doing it?

A lot of what I am doing is selfish.  I’m trying to calm my own anxieties and fears.  He’s such a little boy.  Always, despite knowing I need to live in the present, I try to imagine his future.  To prepare for it.  To guess how he will develop.  To guide and guard him.  To check out schools, to save money to invest in a business he can run, to wonder what will interest him when he is grown.

Future Scientist?

I wonder if many of the “tell-tale” delays will change as he grows and when.   I question- not how deeply he absorbs all that is around him – but the difference in his processing time for what he sees and hears.  I wonder about the degree to which the delay may hinder or place obstacles in his life path.

The thing about my son is that he seems to be two people sometimes.  He is both delayed and not.  It’s like he weaves in and out.  One moment he will be reading a book aloud, from cover to cover, doing math problems or shouting out an immediate response.  The next minute, I will have to call his name ten times, when he is less than two feet in front of me, facing me at a table, or he will mumble to himself, engage in echolalia or laugh at a joke only he knows.

One day, the very present which is so exquisitely encompassing and delightful to him now, will also be a distant memory, and most likely, more in focus than mine.  In comparing my past to his present, I’m doing something that has – in all logical probability – no relevance to his life.  It’s like peeking at the ending of a book before you get there.

I’m not missing the ride.   I know the joy of the moments of childhood.  I know how much I will miss it when he is older.  I love the high lilt in his voice right how.  The silly games he plays with me.  The way he grabs hold of my neck and hugs me tight.  The way he tells me ten times a day that he loves me.  Someday, those things too will be memories.  And, knowing that, in those moments, I live those moments, savoring each second.

But I cannot help wanting to know the unknowable – the future.  To know he is safe, secure, independent, cared for, working, and raising a family of his own.  I cannot say that autism will ever hinder him from achieving any of that.  I have read so many posts by adults with autism.  They are all articulate.  They range from bitter and cynical to intellectual, creative, and poetic.  I wonder where my son will land in adulthood.

I hope someday, that he will write a story of how he has looked back on the things his mom wrote when he was a child.  I hope he will recall his mom having a deep, nurturing love for him, and that she would do anything to protect, provide for, and comfort him.

Most of all, I hope, that if he looks back on what I have written, he smiles and laughs at how silly his mama was to worry so much, because he has grown into a strong, independent adult and is doing just fine.

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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15 Responses to Past, Present, Future.

  1. Mom2MissK says:

    Ok.. we’ve been watching Kung-fu Panda… a LOT — So forgive me in advance… but this post really makes me think of something the kung fu master says to the Po when he’s really upset about his future:

    Yesterday is history
    Tomorrow is a mystery
    Today is a gift — that is why they call it “the present”

    Every time I hear that line, I think of our kids. More than anyone else on the planet, our kids seem to understand the unique value of living in the present. No… I don’t think we can be responsible adults and give up thinking about their futures, but maybe we should take their lead and open that present set in front of us.

    • solodialogue says:

      I do love the present moments, but I just can’t help thinking about the future anyway! (and I totally remember that line from the movie and thinking how cool it was!)

  2. C... says:

    I couldn’t have written this better. This sums up a universal “mom-ism” 🙂 autism or not we can’t help the overflow of love and hope for our kids.

  3. Lizbeth says:

    Wait, that picture of you has brown hair…..

    I would so love to peek to see into adulthood but alas, that is not to happen. It’s a nice wish though. 🙂

    T will be everything you see in him and more. He’s got you right there with him. Having one person on your side? That’s over half the battle. And he’s got you. I’d say he’s set.

  4. Funny, because I see things that SensiGirl does and then remember myself doing them. I didn’t really remember much of preschool and kindergarten until I saw her doing it. I was not a seeker, or a talker, I was a drawer/painter and a reader. I pretty much kept to myself, as does SensiGirl.

    • solodialogue says:

      I’m glad you mentioned that! How many of us look back to our own childhood and see similarities or try to find them? It is a bit soothing, don’t you think? (And I pretty much kept to myself also – my 1st grade teacher sent home a note telling my mom she was worried that I had only 1-2 close friends!)

  5. utkallie says:

    This post just turned me into a teary mess because it’s so clear how incredibly in love you are with your boy. There’s nothing like that bond of a mama and her son.

  6. Loved this. Well written, and some deep thoughts. You know how I like deep thoughts. Cute photo of you. You sure don’t look like that little girl anymore. Still cute, though! And the same eye-twinkle.

    What stuck out for me were 2 things. (1) I don’t think you are being “selfish” in any way by reflecting back and wondering how you were the same or not; I think this reflects your deep love for your son and wanting to understand the situation more and to make a difference in his life. (Which you do everyday, just by loving him and being there for him.) (2) I think he goes in and out with moments of reading aloud and being “there” to moments of retreating because of the sensory and thinking overload; it is his means of escaping and surviving. That’s just my thought based on me and my son.

    Excellent post. Great photos. When do you find the time to write? I know for me it’s a stretch, and I don’t work. Hugs to you, Sam 🙂

    • solodialogue says:

      Thank you Sam! Your perspective on the “retreat” sounds very plausible. I write late into the night, after baths and homework… and sometimes I try to sneak time throughout the day! I used to post 7 day a week like you but it became overwhelming and I cut back after that. It has worked out to be more manageable 4 out of 7 days a week! 🙂

  7. Your boy really does seem so much like my girl. It would be interesting to see how they reacted to each other. No doubt in a way that would surprise us both. I try to avoid looking too much into the future, and our lifestyle keeps us focused only on the next 2 or 3 years, which helps. You know though, if that little Asian girl can grow up to look so different, who knows what changes can take place in an ever-growing brain? 😉

  8. eof737 says:

    Beautiful and I bet he will write… You look thinner in that photo Karen… Hope you are doing well. Don’t let the stress get you! 🙂

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