It looks as if I’m posting a bit more, these days; I can live with that. The day will come when I actually finish one of my half-completed/barely-started novels, and I’ll want to have an audience standing by *wink, but I’m semi-serious*
I thought I’d talk about my son, today; I can hear him in the other room, shouting excitedly and unreservedly about what’s happening on the Wii, rarely making the clearest, most linear sense, but always manufacturing joy as if it’s a thing that can be bottled; and he’s so loud and so animated that, if he keeps it up too long, the neighbours will likely bang on the wall.
I don’t care, to be honest…. the kids have lived in this house their entire lives, not counting weekends at their dad’s, and none of my neighbours has once asked me if I needed help raising 2 autistic kids (including during the period after I asked their dad to leave, and I was juggling a 10-month-old and almost-3-year-old with severe autism by myself, 5-6 days a week, on 3-4 hours of sleep a night…) bang on the walls, you small-minded, compassionless wretches.
Despite living next door and sharing a wall with us (terraced housing) you weren’t there, when my babies were actual babies, were you? You don’t remember a thing from when my 2 were tiny, and it was all I could do to keep them happy and healthy and safe. But *I* still remember that my Gabriel didn’t make a single purposeful sound (no babbling, no nothing, other than laughing or crying) until he was 3-years-old, and that his first “word” was, “1, 2, 3.” In a week, Gabriel could count to 10 and read the numbers. A week after that, he said, “Issa a dack. Wah wah wah.”
When he spoke for the first time, we thought it was a genuine miracle, befitting a child with an angel’s name… after all, by then, his sister (aged 5, at the time) had stopped speaking altogether; to this day, I believe it was only his determination to interact with her, that got her to begin trying to speak, again. (Nearly 12 now, she’s still functionally non-verbal, and far, far behind even her peers with complex needs, when it comes to spoken language–without my son’s encouragement, I very much doubt if she would speak at all. She didn’t, for the best part of 2 years, age 3 to age 5.)
That’s Gabriel, though. Whatever my feelings about the almost ludicrously fundamentalist way I was raised, the idea that I was right to name him after an angel persists. Even now, almost 10 years old, he is made of weather that’s mostly sunshine, full of bounce and energy and enthusiasm, and even when his skies are stormy, all he wants is to feel better, to be helped, to be better himself.
For my daughter, he can get her to smile and play when no one else can. I didn’t mean to have him be her caretaker; but it’s a role he seems happy to fulfil, and she reciprocates in the ways that she can. *She* might get cross with him, but woe betide anyone who tries to hurt her little brother… she finds her voice then, if the words still elude her.
For me, he’s everything that made parenting a little lighter. She was every profound and worthy and solemn feeling I’d ever had, rolled into one; he was no less deeply loved, but those same feelings were lit from within, by the light he generates simply by being himself. Between the pair of them, my light and my shade, my extrovert and my introvert, my morning sun and my evening star, they have taught me how to be a mother.