ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
[personal profile] ninanevermore
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I met my son’s fiancée this last Saturday at the party for her 6th birthday. She seems like a nice little girl. A bit goofy looking, but judging by how pretty her mother is, I suspect she will be very attractive once she grows into her features.

“Are you [Sweet Pea’s] mom?” the mother of the birthday girl greeted me, “Mallory talks about him all the time at home. She tells me she’s going to marry him when she grows up.”

“He mentioned that to me,” I told her with a smile. I didn’t mention that he is not yet ready to commit to her daughter. There are so many little girls at his school that he’s not sure which one he will marry, he has confided to me. I told him he doesn’t have to pick one for a couple more decades, and not to rush. There is a good change (say 99.9%) that he will marry someone who he does not go to Kindergarten with. But his world is very small right now, and he has no way to imagine how many people (including girls) he will meet as he makes his way through his life. Right now the dozen or so girls in his class are overwhelming enough to him.

Sweet Pea was excited to walk into the Pump It Up party facility where the party was being held. It features large gymnasium-like rooms with those big inflatable slides and obstacle courses and bouncy rooms that kids like so much. When we walked into the room, though, Sweet Pea pressed himself up against me and told me he wanted to leave. There were loud speakers blasting pop music into the room, and the volume was pretty high.

“It’s too loud,” he said.

“What’s wrong?” a woman asked.

“The music. He has a thing about noise…” I didn't know how to explain, but it turned out I didn't need to. Not to this woman.

“Is it too loud? Is it bothering him?” Mallory’s mom asked. “I’ll see if they can turn it down.” She left the room to talk to the management.

“Are you [Sweet Pea’s] mom?” the first woman asked me. She looked to be about 50 or so. “I’ve been wanting to meet you. Hi, I’m ----; I’m Jack’s mom. And I’m the room mother in their class, so he sees me all the time at school.”

Jack is the little boy in Sweet Pea’s class who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Jack, Christian and Sweet Pea are the Special Needs Trio of their kindergarten class. Coincidentally, the Saturday before when I was at a local department store shopping for Mallory’s birthday gift, I ran into Christian’s family and spent some time talking with his mom and dad. Christian has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), another high-functioning form of Autism. Since I work full time and Jack and Christian's mothers don’t, these run-ins were the first I’d met either of them. I noticed Christian’s father sitting on a bench a few feet away, and I waved at him. He smiled and nodded at me.

The music volume when down a few decibles then and Sweet Pea shot away from my side to explore the room. Once the oppressive noise was subdued, he was fine.

Other children greeted him by name as he ran past. Sometimes he smiled a tight little smile and wave at them, sometimes he ignored them. He does not greet other children by name, even when he knows the names. Usually when we are out in public and another child greets him, I have to remind him to return the greeting.

Who was that? I will ask.

A kid who goes to my school.

What’s his name?

I don’t know. There are a lot of kids at my school. I don’t know all their names.

He does know the names of the children in his class, or at least most of them. A lot of work was put into teaching him their names. I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes. They greet him when they see him, but he is indifferent to most of them in return. On the other hand he is engaging and charming with adults. I suppose that there are just some people who don’t like children, and my 6 year old happens to be one of them.

The party lasted two hours divided into three parts; it started off in one bouncy room, they moved to another bouncy room, and then ended up in a room with cake and juice boxes with a large inflatable throne for the birthday girl to sit in and open her presents. I spent a lot of time talking with Jack’s mother. She was very surprised when I told her that the Meyer Developmental Center had ruled out any sort of autism and told us that Sweet Pea is (in essence) mentally ill.

“Really? That’s amazing, because he acts so much like Jack. I’m really surprised.”

“They didn’t run any test. We just answered a lot of questions for two hours. I wasn’t impressed with them.”

“They tested Jack for 4 hours and watched how he interacted with other children as part of their testing. I had to pay $1200 out of pocket for that doctor, but I think it was worth it.”

I don’t have $1200 dollars to spend out of pocket, but I didn’t want to say that. We are working to get ourselves out of debt as it is. I also am leery of the idea of shopping for a diagnosis; of going from doctor to doctor until I find one who will give me the right answer. I don’t even know if there is a right answer.

“I think I’ll just call it Sweet Pea Syndrome,” I said with a wry smile. “I don’t think any one label fits him; he seems to straddle several of them at once.”

Jack’s mom smiled. “Don’t they all, though? I think God just made each of our boys different, and these challenges we’re having now will seem like nothing once they grow up and show us the amazing things they will do.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” I said.

The party was a success. No one got hit or bit, and Sweet Pea had fun. He even had his picture taken with his fiancée, sitting next to her on the inflatable birthday throne. He had spent most of the time playing with a small (half sized) soccer ball he found in one of the rooms, and he relinquished it without a fight when I explained that it belonged to the facility and he couldn’t keep it.

“What was your favorite part of the party?” I asked him as we drove away.

“The soccer ball. I liked playing with the soccer ball.”

“Better than the bouncy things and the slides?”

“Yes. That was the best part.”

“I’m glad you had fun.”

“Me, too. I want to have my next birthday here.”

“We’ll see,” I said.

That seemed to satisfy him.

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