The Day After…my children and their futures

Sharon November 3rd, 2004

It wasn’t like I haven’t been predicting it, or that I’d allowed my hopes to rise, but… well, I had the faint hope that the lesser of two evils (which is looking pretty good right now) might have won. It does not look that way. I know that the blogosphere is filled by thousands of people writing their opinion on this. Let me just say… I don’t want to talk about it.

Eli went horseback riding again today – he is the simple embodiment of joy on a horse. Although kind people have told me how to post pictures, I haven’t yet done so. So I doubt you will believe me when I say that my oldest child is transcendently beautiful. But so many people have told me so spontaneously that I almost believe my own natural inclination to think this. It helps that I do not believe that of my other two children, who are very cute (yea, I know, I’m their Mom – I would say that). Simon looks *exactly* like is Dad, who I happen to think is very handsome, and Isaiah is very round and Gerber babyish. But Eli is luminous – huge brown eyes, long lashes, the sweetest smile, tousled hair, very tall and lanky.

And he’s a luminous personality as well – that doesn’t mean he’s not an ordinary child – he misbehaves, he pushes and hits, he complains when he doesn’t get his way. But when is happy, it is whole body happiness. His sorrow is total as well. He loves completely, no matter how you behave (he forgives me my quick temper and failures instantly, to my shame), and wants nothing more than to play, cuddle, tickle, laugh, be with you. He has a sense of humor, and a devilish one, and a boundless capacity for fun. He is the most physically affectionate and loving child you can imagine. Eric and I have often felt that if someone came to us and told us that Eli was the reincarnation of some Lama or other great soul (even though we don’t believe in reincarnation particularly) we’d be inclined to accept it. A number of people who had heard about Eli and pitied us, on meeting him, tell us how wonderful he is, and that they wouldn’t necessarily want him to change. I feel precisely that way sometimes – although I want for my son all the ordinary joys of life that are not necessarily compatible with autism (I hope I’m wrong about that last), and particularly so today.

So watching Eli on a horse, his total delight and pleasure, has a way of moving me from the uglier thoughts in my head about this election. I will say, I believe with all my heart that we are laying the ground now for a longer term war, potentially a world war, in the middle east. I won’t be surprised at all if my sons grow to manhood in an era of drafts and wars. Although daughters don’t necessarily spare you the draft these days, I admit, today I feel particularly vulnerable because I have sons that I love so dearly, and history has not always been gentle to those sons. It is perhaps stupid, and predicated on way too many anticipations and guesses, but this morning I found myself feeling dually grateful to have Eli – because he is such a wonderful child in himself, and because his condition means that I will never have to send him to war.

I wish the same was true of Isaiah and Simon. I think I talk more about Eli than the other two boys, and thus give the impression that Eli’s needs are at the center of our world. But that’s not the case at all. Simon is sweet, sensitive, gentle, very, very high strung (everything is a crisis), hyperverbal and imaginative. We spend a lot of time making up stories with him, and he always (at not quite 3) knows exactly how they should go. Right at the moment, he’s being eaten by a stuffed shark (for the fourth or fifth time this morning), and he wants to know if winnie the pooh is a mammal.

Isaiah is a baby, and it is always hard to tell what of his character will last. He definitely has a prediliction for doing things the hard way – if he can insert an obstacle in his way, he does. If he can climb over something, or hurl himself off a piece of furniture, well, all to the better. I spend much of my day trying to mitigate the damage to a child with excellent gross motor skills, absolutely no fear of anything, and a tendency to greet the world face-first.

I’m rambling a bit, but all I can say is that I’m grateful as hell to have my perfect boys, and it scares the heck out of me that what we do now will shape their futures in ways I cannot control.


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