Tag Archives: nostalgia

Leaving Walgreen’s this morning

10 Nov

As I was walking to my car, a bumper sticker on a car in the next row caught my eye.

“My kid has autism. What’s your excuse?”

I found myself thinking how incredibly handy that bumper sticker would have been when Max was between the ages of four and twelve. Man, did that ever sum it up.

Intrigued, I peeked into the car. There was a woman in the driver’s seat, on the phone. Without analyzing my behavior, I walked over to the passenger side, leaned down and caught her eye, making the universal “roll down your window” sign. She did.

“I just had to tell you that I love your bumper sticker.” I began, continuing “I have an almost-21 year old son on the spectrum.” Unexpectedly, I choked up and tears filled my eyes. “So many years, so many struggles, so much progress,” I continued as she smiled and nodded knowingly. Then she pointed behind her to a boy, seven or eight years old, in his booster seat.

“This is mine,” she said proudly. “Max, can you say hello?”

The little boy smiled through missing teeth, waved and said “He-llo!” in a high, singsong voice. I said hello in return, telling them MY son was named Max, too. He was blonde like your Max and mine, Chris; had those eyes, Terry, that we have always said are so recognizeable.

We said goodbye and I returned to my car. I can’t find the words for what I was feeling: a combination of familiarity, nostalgia, sadness, and a sense of inevitability, too. So many Maxes. So many children, born every day into families who together will find themselves walking a road they never knew was on the map. All to experience so much misunderstanding from others – misunderstanding that calls for a bumper sticker.


Child of Mine

10 Nov

Ooh boy – nothing like being reduced to tears on the drive into work! Dam*n cold day for tears, too – one runs the risk of them freezing to one’s face.

MPR’s “The Current” played that song this morning. It was dedicated by a mom to her returning adult daughter, home in time for the holidays and her dad’s retirement party. The DJ said how it didn’t seem to matter how old a child gets, they still love this song, as do their parents.

Then it started. And I was no longer driving up 50th in my Audi TT, I was sitting on the edge of Cole’s bed singing to him, along with the song playing on his CD player. It was one of a bunch of songs on this CD that entertained us on our cross country drive to the Jersey Shore (“You’ve got to give a little love, have a little hope, make this world a little better…”). The kids were strapped in the back of my dear old Celica convertible, slathered to the 9s (more like the 50s!) in sunblock, shades on, jammin’. The CD was on full blast to compete with the wind and the interstate truck traffic. We sang our hearts out.

Cole inherited the CD; it was in his room and he listened to it darn near every night for months. When I would check on him, if that song was on or about to come on I would sit on the edge of the bed and sing along, quietly, so as not to wake him up. I could never do that with Max; much as I might want to, he would awaken with a start. All my singing to him had to be during waking hours! There was no sneaking in and out of his room – even now as a lanky 6’3″ teenager, he senses when I so much as crack the door an inch to see if he’s sleeping.

Another song from that CD, another moment: Sitting outside the offices of the clinic we visited every week for about a year, over in the Como neighborhood behind the fairgrounds. Paul McCartney’s version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. We would eagerly wait for the chorus, and then 8 year old Max, 3 year old Cole and – hmm – probably 10 year old Mom would drown Paul out, substituting our much cleverer version over his interminable, 22 la la’s in a row: “You can hear them saying La La, Dipsy, Tinky Winky and Po… NuNu… NARRATOR…and the baby sun (and the baby sun)”

But Child of Mine. I know that song must tug at every parent’s heart, must feel so perfectly appropriate for their own relationship with their own child. I am not narcisstic enough to imagine otherwise, and yet – the line “I know you will be honest if you can’t always be kind” was written for me to sing to Max. Oh, how I would tell myself in those days of struggle; comfort myself as the tears streamed that while Max might never learn how to ride that mysterious, wobbly bike of sociability, “He will never lie”. That tiny yet noble certainty, the one ray of light blazing through our clouds. How far he has come. Riding that bike, and a real one, with agility and ease, making his way. He still isn’t always kind, but who is? And even those unkind moments stem from his core honesty, his inability to sugarcoat – for to sugarcoat is to dilute the essence of a fact. And facts are the bones of life.

As much as I used to straighten up with brave pride at that line about honesty, I bawled like a baby at the bridge. How to tell him that the world didn’t mean to be cruel, didn’t try to make it so hard just to even BE? How to keep his spirit strong when just getting through one day at a time was such a struggle? I didn’t know. I still don’t. But somehow he – and I – have come out the other side relatively intact.

Child of mine. Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine.

Carole King

Child of mine

Although you see the world different than me
Sometimes I can touch upon the wonders that you see
All the new colors and pictures you’ve designed
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine.

Child of mine, child of mine, oh yes sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine.

You don’t need direction, you know which way to go,
And I don’t want to hold you back I just want to watch you grow.
You’re the one who taught me you don’t have to look behind.
Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine.

Child of mine child of mine, oh yes sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine.

Nobody’s gonna kill your dreams
Or tell you how to live your life.
There’ll always be people who make it hard for a while,
But you’ll change their heads when they see you smile.

The times you were born in may not have been the best,
But you can make the times to come better than the rest.
I know you will be honest if you can’t always be kind,
Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine.