Thursday, March 3, 2016

nothing good can come of feeding him.

J, at age 11, is well on his way to claiming his genetic birthright, which is to say that of being the size of a tree, or perhaps a black bear. It's unclear how gangly he'll be and for how long, but we don't expect he'll be under 6'4". He grows, in addition to taller, ever kinder, wiser, more empathic, and more aware of his own unique balance of strengths and deficits. He has actual friends, has made one friend all on his own with no parental assist, and he's disrupting class by talking with his classmates: music to the ears of the Asperger's parent.

He had a successful shadow day at an area private school! This is the first one that the school hasn't sent him home early from. Also unlike other shadow days, he was full of stories about all the interesting stuff they did. Normally the interesting part of his school day fits in a short sentence, so this is something to note. No telling if he'll get in, but this is progress.

J and I have had some major Dad time lately, which I value the way you're supposed to value these things. His biological father has been lowering the bar, but I am objectively awesome, and gentle and constructive where his father is...not. He has pushed and pulled and poked all these years, and I have still yelled at him exactly once (which stopped the bad behavior, but then required 20 minutes of reparative snuggling, so it wasn't all bad), so he feels justifiably safe with me. In addition to his using me as furniture--one of his signs of comfort and affection, signaling that you are an unthreatening part of his world, like furniture--we've fallen in lately with my reading Ready Player One to him at night. He was all nervous when we first came around to it.
"But, um...well, you probably won't read it, so never mind. Forget I said it."
"Why wouldn't I read it?"
"It's got bad words in it. Mama would filter them out."
"Well, I'm not going to do that. I thought you'd said you'd read it already."
"I have. I've read it like seven times. It's one of my favorite books in the history of ever."
"It seems a little odd to protect from words that you already know, and and have also already read in the context of the book. So let's try it and see."
(One of the special parenting features Anna and I pull off  is to have a bedrock unity of decision-making and boundaries, but different roles in the execution. Anna does everything as strict as she can manage (sometimes her patience is shot from dealing with the kid all. damn. day.), while I exercise broader discretions, if the boy can remember to ask me instead of freaking out. In the moment, I'm not sure the overall fairness makes us less infuriating.)

My reading met with his approval (it doesn't always), so it's been a Chris+John thing we do, and I am more frequently requested during this time of increased conflict with his father.

Far from our days when we learned there's only one Chris, the word "Chris" in our household has developed totemic associations of strength, reassurance, patience, a wicked sense of humor, and, of course, mind-blowing good looks.

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