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Light was just beginning to filter into the green leaves that held up the ceiling of Mickle Smith’s pasture. For as far as one could venture their gaze, there was no color to be found except for the varying shades of Mississippi green. Deep greens shadowing tarragon shades of life fell out across the field until it was only subtle shading differences, leaves and grass, that were noticeable at all. Mostly it was a rolling, slowly waving green canvas named for Mickle Smith who fought hard but died with a traitor’s label on his grave during the Civil War. It was a misunderstanding and his name had carried forward through history without the stigma of his circumstances. His name remained current in Magnolia daily life even after most everyone forgot the man and his struggle.

From where he sat on the stack of river stones, still loading his gun in the open field, Elijah could see the outline of the dog’s body standing fifty yards away. The distance wasn’t unusual, it was a healthy hunting distance, but the dog charged wildly about the trees, and, for John Lander’s blue heeler, that was unheard of. Graham Fitch Jr. tried never to move too quickly at any time of the day or for any reason. Cats could cross his path without response and cars could drive by without causing a chase. It was just his way. Some had gone so far as to try appealing to his herding sense but it seemed as though Graham Fitch was a dog separated from his breeding.
Elijah looked hard at the line of trees in front of Graham but he saw nothing and, try as he may to knock the Vicks out of his nose, Elijah couldn’t smell either. He knew the importance of smell to a man in the woods but his hunting had waned over the years and he’d gotten lax.
Ever since he was a child, there had been talk in town. Stories had floated amongst the elder men about wild cats roaming the backwoods of the rural South. Elijah never wanted to believe them but with a shudder slowly sliding down his spine, he wondered if the dog might have discovered one straying from its path. It would explain the dog’s sudden dive into animation. Elijah was from Magnolia and he’d never come to fear much but a cat was an entirely different set of troubles when compared to the normal run ins with deer and turkey and even moccasins.
With his gun loaded and lifted level with his eye, Elijah held both hands tight, one balanced on the trigger, as he stood up and began a trepid walk over to the dog. His feet moved slowly, methodically stepping lightly through the snakey grass while his trembling courage wondered how he might stand down a panther. He’d never been that type of man who hungered to be proven.
He lifted his eye to gauge the dilemma and he could see the dog’s interest turning from the trees to the ground. His mind eased and his courage stood down at the same time as his shoulders fell because he knew, in terms of his own experience, it couldn’t be a live cat. Not even Graham Fitch Jr. would put nose to the ground in the face of a black panther.

His feet jumped and Elijah quickened his pace, closing the distance between he and Graham. He could feel his chest rise and fall with the heavy breaths such exercise induced. If he was honest, he’d have to admit he was a lot like John’s heeler. He didn’t like to move too quickly at any time of the day either. He liked rest and he liked hunting as long as the hunting was slow paced and leisurely.
Elijah knew something wasn’t right but from where he was standing he could hardly see the outline of the stranger’s face. He brought his eyes to the place where the dog stood trying hard to focus a shape but, covered in grime and a lengthy beard, it didn’t look much like a face at all. Lying in the ground the way it was Elijah could barely tell the browning face from the ruddy dirt.
“What’s it boy?” Elijah asked the dog but John Landers’ Blue Heeler kept rounding the mound snorting and sniffing and on occasion letting out a high pitched, come and help me sort of bark. “Hey ya, Peter Rabbit,” Elijah yelled back over his shoulder. He was still eyeing the face before him, as he carefully sat his gun against the crumbly bark of the oak tree and edged himself closer to the face, “would ya take a look-a- here?”

Thank You, Umbrella Corporation

autism sparkles-108

I know, I know…Umbrella Corporation?  Resident Evil? Sparkles?  What has happened in The Village?  I understand that the Umbrella Corporation and Resident Evil are not what you expected from Sparkles on a Sunday morning, right?  I get it.  Just hold up on firing off until you finish reading. Trust me.  Life has not turned completely upside down…yet.

Life is funny.  Life is a myriad of changes lately in our home and it’s been a crazy last few months.  The highs, the lows, ups and downs.  It changes from minute to minute.  The Spectrum Kiddo is in high school now.  Our first semester of our freshman year and, yeah…it’s been a bit of  a wow thing for mom.

Wow…we’re in high school.

Wow…my boy is as tall as me.

Wow…is that a moustache or dirt on your lip?

Wow…look how far we have come since that SPED kindergarten class.

Wow…when did I BLINK?

Wow…YOU got an A in ENGLISH?

Wow…you got an F in TYPING?

Wow…you ate lunch alone?

There have been many, many wows over these last few months.

Our school also prides itself on the dynamic variety of groups on campus that kids are encouraged to join.  There are oodles of clubs for kiddos to connect with in order to enhance their high school experience and bolster friendships for ALL kiddos.  It’s a great system so it wasn’t surprising that the Spectrum Kiddo and I had this conversation this week:

Mom: Buddy, have you checked out any groups on campus?

My boy: Why?

Mom: They have lots of groups.  Anime, comic books, robotics….lots of different groups you might like.

My boy: Mom, really, I’m fine. I have friends.  I don’t need the groups and you don’t need to worry.

And he did…he put me in check and I had to take a step back and let my Mom-Worry-Machine take a breather and let him be who he is.  Don’t think it was easy because it wasn’t.  The Mom-Worry-Machine wants to grab back some control and set up some play groups and force the boy to have F-R-I-E-N-D-S….right?  Yeah…I had to step back.  Way back..no matter how much that ran counter to how the Mom-Worry-Machine is designed to operate.  Deep breath…

 

And then today, this happened…and it changed the Mom-Worry-Machine forever….

Spectrum Kiddo: Look what my friend gave me.

Mom: A shirt?

Spectrum kiddo: Yeah.  He out grew it and I’d always admired it so he brought it to school and gave it to me.

Mom: Wow, buddy, that’s pretty cool.  What’s the umbrella corporation?

Spectrum kiddo: It’s from Resident Evil.

**And here it is.  The moment when we let go as parents.  The moment when we stop splitting the hairs and keep focused on the big picture lest we miss the point of life as a whole.  The very moment when I had to let go of the mom-speak that confines life to the appropriate, the PC, and the do-the-right-thing rule repetition.  This is the moment when I had to let go of the speech that begins to line up all the things wrong with Resident Evil for a 14 year old spectrum kiddo and, instead of reminders and admonitions, my response went something like this…..**

Mom: Resident Evil?  Really? I like that umbrella.

Spectrum kiddo: I really like it.

Mom: Me too.  What a great friend.

And despite the fact that the game is rated M and is not a rating allowed in our house, I didn’t say one word to my boy about THAT because the Mom-Worry-Machine was smiling pretty pretty darn big because, despite the fact that the shirt is from a game we don’t play and covers issues I don’t particularly embrace, the bigger picture fact that can’t be missed is that MY BOY IS CONNECTING AND HAS FRIENDS and my boy is cultivating friendships and that’s a big old win-win for this momma.  And despite my personal views on the game I’d even have to throw a big Thank You out to the Umbrella Corporation for offering this wholly unexpected connecting point for my boy.

And here’s the bigger truth:

My boy isn’t joining the campus groups.

My boy isn’t following the mandated path and he isn’t always going to take the easy route BUT

….my boy has friends.

And they may not be the typical friendships and they may not follow the accepted “rule” book but these “other” friendships are what works for HIM.  So the Mom-Worry-Machine is going to take a few steps back and let the boy live HIS life HIS way even when I may not always see the forest for the trees.

So thank you, Umbrella Corporation, for being so much more than just an M rated game that I banned in my home.  So. Much. More.

Sparkle On, my friends.

 

 

 

Reasons To Love Autism: Moment #23 (on making friends)

Everyday my boy who is supposedly “disabled” teaches me tremendous lessons.  Language does not come easy for him and he does not volunteer a lot of information so where you, as a parent, might be able to simply ask questions and get a whole diatribe of what went on in your child’s day, I have to go through a mild interrogation.   Inside these mild interrogations, I learn a lot and, if i am lucky, he leaves me speechless.

It started like this:

Mom: How was your day?

The boy: Good.

Mom: What was the best part?

The boy: I didn’t get in any trouble.

Mom:  Okay, that is what didn’t happen now can you tell me about something that did happen that made your day good?

The boy: The boy who sat next to me at lunch ate a fly.

Mom: How did that happen?

The boy: It was in the rice.

Mom: Did you eat rice?

The boy: No, he had cold lunch.

Mom: Which friend was this?

The boy: I don’t know his name.

Mom:  Aren’t you sitting with the same friends?

The boy: No, I was sitting at a different table.

This is where mom gets a little nervous because he is not sitting with the same boys he was with at the beginning of the year.  The safe boys from the elementary school we attended.  We are in seventh grade now and the social ramifications are more immense and I worry he will be targeted or bullied or made fun of and I appreciate the sameness of our lunch crowd because I know with them he is safe.  So naturally my radar goes onto high alert and I ask more questions.

Mom: What tables do you sit at now?

The boy: Any table where there are only boys.  Just boys, no girls.

Mom: And you don’t know the people you are sitting with?

The boy: No.  They are boys.

Mom: You sit with people you don’t know?  Why buddy?

The boy: Mom, I have lots of friends at lots of different tables.  I change tables so I can see them all.  How could I know all their names?

And that is when he knocks my socks off.  In my mind’s eye, I am worried he is the friendless boy who moves from table to table but, in his eye, he sees that everyone is his friend and he is trying to move from table to table to see different people.  I am not sure if he truly has devoted friends like you and I might define them but, in his definition, he has a lot of friends and I like that.  I love his eyes, I love his view of the world and because of his grace and who he is… he teaches me the big lessons, the really important stuff.  Love that boy.