She watches him run, flap his hands, make unrecognizable sounds and drag me all over the YMCA as if I am a rag doll. She watches me watch the clock, check my phone and get up for the hundredth time to catch him before he dashes out the door into the night. I notice her but I know she has stopped noticing me so she can place her energy into him. She’s completely enthralled in this boy child of mine. This child with no name to her but strange. She seems to have become lost in that world he lives in. It’s my time to gaze upon her perfectly pulled back twenty something blonde hair and I quietly compliment her unmistakable perfect body. My stare is only broken when he pokes me and laughs inappropriately.
From the corner of my eye, I see multiple eyes upon us now. He has become the center of attention and he will never be aware of this. In his mind he is as a ghost that walks among us. He knows of no one else in the room but me. The only reason he knows me is that I have been there from the beginning. I will never know if he truly knows who I am. The one that carried him for nine months, the one that suffered through fifty plus hours of labor, the one that will love him even in death. In his world there is neither judgment nor sorrow nor drama; only a world locked in non-imagination and his only pleasure is to spin beads.
We are now the show of special needs to this packed YMCA lobby. This is a show I have become accustomed too. Children stop their teasing or playful banter with their siblings to stop and watch him. Adults attempt not to stare but their curiosity kills that demeanor so they oblige their curiosity and watch. However, the adults have trained themselves to peer through peripheral vision. I find this quite amusing. “I see you”, I want to shout however that would be in bad taste so I allow the eye gazing. His world is what they see; a world they don’t understand but are fascinated. I want to say, “This is autism. Curious world he lives in isn’t it?” Yet, I do not. In the early days of his autism, I would say what it was but the questions that followed from the people were overwhelming, ignorant and time consuming. So I stopped attempting to educate the public.
His sister’s dance class will be ending soon and I am relieved. I count the minutes while I move around the room to catch him, block him, chase him or sign “stop” to him. It is time to leave and I express a sigh of relief. He bounces like Tigger down the hall. The dance studio is enclosed so I let Tigger’s hand go to assist my daughter with her shoes. The teacher watches him for me while I perform mommy duties with the typical child. Then hand in hand in hand we walk down the hall into the dark cold Charlotte night. He yanks us forward and my grip becomes firmer. We go into the car and to our apartment home. The door closes behind us and so does the world with its stares, glances, and peripheral visions. Well, until tomorrow.