Thursday, July 23, 2009

A dinosaur in a line of cars

David has been lining things up lately. (For all you amazing new readers, David is our 5 year old son who has brought the gift of autism into our lives.) Most recently he has been lining up cars on the living room table. He has quite an interesting array of vehicles consisting of all the characters from the Disney Cars movie and a couple of generic cars, trucks, and vans. He has an awesome ability to line the cars up in a very specific order, as perfectly aligned as humanly possible. What I have found most fascinating about his "Cars Lineup" is the large, white, plastic dinosaur figure that he places perfectly at the end of the lineup. I have been intrigued as I watch him so carefully line up each car, truck, and van and with equal precision, place the dinosaur at the end of the lineup. My first thought was "I don't get it, he is so particular about the lineup, how does the dinosaur fit in?" My mind was flooded with very vivid memories of Sesame Street and Highlights books with lots of games centered around the ability to choose which item does not belong. Clearly, at first glance, the donosaur seemed like the obvious answer.

The old me would have been concerned about the whole ritual and thought "OK the lining things up is a bit strange but the dinosaur....... that is really weird". The new me watched in awe as David lined everything up perfectly and then in a very specific order began pointing to different items and saying their names in his perfect little voice in a way that only a Disney Cars fanatic or a mom who has seen the Cars movie about 327 times would appreciate. The King, Chick Hicks, Sheriff, Lightning McQueen (sounding more like Niling Niclen), Cars (for all the generic vehicles), Mater, Luigi, and of course... dinosaur. Instead of thinking "the dinosaur doesn't belong", I began to wonder how the dinosaur fits into this picture. I am certain that he fits in otherwise there is no way that David in his ever logical, somewhat rigid, and specifically controlling manner would ever put him there. I began to think of all the reasons the dinosaur DID belong. He is big, David loves donosaurs just like he loves cars, he has a mouth and the fronts of each car in the movie are mouths, he is plastic, he moves around the table easily, he is fun to play with... etc. There are many more exciting reasons that the dinosaur DOES belong than simply thinking he doesn't belong because he is not a vehicle.

This experience is one of many that I am thankful for. Imagine a world where people are focused on similiarities verses differences. Where people are intrigued by what is verses what isn't. Where children's creativity and different ways of putting things together are embraced verses challenged. Where people challenge themselves when they don't understand something verses assuming others are wrong.

I have spent the last week "catching myself" everytime I interact with either of my children in a way that says "that's not right/ how you do it/ how it goes... this is". I do this A LOT! I do it even more with adults (SMILE). Here are a few things I have learned: A plain white piece of paper can be anything you want it to be simply by folding it differently; sharks are fun, not scary; flying without wings and while not being on an airplane is possible if you pretent the bed you are on is a cloud; and most importantly, according to Aly (and I have chosen to believe her), I am perfect just the way I am.

Love to all!

Kathy

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