Friday, July 12, 2013

Two Years

We were at a popular swimming area at a local lake for my friend's daughter's birthday party. I stood on the sand under the murky skies and looked out at the water. Anna was in the deeper area, giggling and whispering with a friend. Ethan was making a valiant attempt at actual swimming, fearless, going underwater at times, kicking his feet furiously. I looked a little closer. Not only was he swimming, he was playing. He was "chasing" two girls a little older than he, complete strangers who weren't there for the party.

We'd been here for the same friend's daughter's birthday party two years ago. What a difference those two years can make.

Two years ago, Ethan tolerated the people around him but didn't speak to them. He put up a big stink about being in the group picture, and threw a fit when he had to get out of the water.

This year, at the table: a little boy his age piped up, "What's your name?"

"My name is Ethan," he responded, looking away shyly. I whispered, "Ethan, you can ask him his name."

"What's your name?" he dutifully replied, and the boy told him.

The kids climbed on the rock for a group photo, and Ethan left his swing without too much protest to pose. With me as pitcher, we played "baseball" on the shore with two other boys after everyone was forced out of the water due to thunder. That was the other thing -- I thought for sure there'd be tears when the lifeguards ordered everyone out, and when the continued thunder in the distance meant swimming was essentially done for the day. But apparently pizza, cupcakes, baseball, and swings nearby were enough to hold off a tantrum.

Either that, or Ethan is just learning and maturing.

And then there were the girls in the water. Two years ago, Ethan only wanted to swim by himself and throw pebbles in the water. Of course, sometimes he was throwing these pebbles dangerously close to other people, and I spent a good deal of time constantly nagging him to stop and to be careful.

Now, he was relishing terrifying two little girls as he went after them in the water, again and again.

Later, back home, he confided that the girls had wanted him to stop playing chase.

"They didn't want to play anymore, but I wanted to," he said. "So I kept chasing them."

And with that, I saw that more and more we are moving beyond the stage of not being motivated to interact, to wanting to interact but sometimes not knowing how. This can be confusing; overwhelming...I dare say that at times for Ethan it may end up being heartbreaking.

But in that moment, it just felt like a very good place to be.

1 comment:

JAckie said...

I smiled reading your post. I've had those moments and when I'm down about my son's autism I take a moment to realize how far he's come.