April 14, 2010

Sky Diamonds

Posted in AMT's Faves, Life's Little Moments tagged , , , at 2:03 pm by autismmommytherapist

Go fly a kite. This is a truncated expression of my youngest child’s exuberant exclamation of “Let’s go fly a kite, mommy!”, but you get the gist. He proclaimed this order yesterday as I tried unsuccessfully to keep up with him at a lovely local park, his three-year-old legs pumping relentlessly toward his desired goal. As he careened speedily toward the unsuspecting family with the brightly colored cloth diamonds, the trembling shapes apparently sensed his impending presence, and attempted to catch a current to escape both their earthly bonds, and my son.

These four words evoke such special memories for me, reminders of a simpler time and place in my childhood, our forays to our family’s cottage on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Every summer since the year I turned nine my father’s family made the pilgrimage to my aunt’s house just one short block from the beach, an event my brother and I anticipated eagerly every season. As we crossed the bridge that transitioned the modern world to the island I recall feeling even the air we inhaled was different than mainland air, as if it alone held the promise of all the adventures to come. I remember feeling we were “roughing” it then, the kids sleeping in the unair-conditioned attic loft, exchanging the television and boardwalks of home for marathon Monopoly games and long, languorous walks on the beach in the evenings. Most days and nights, the winds benevolently conceded to our frequent requests, and there was kite flying as well. Glorious, unfettered, kite flying.

Every summer my brother and I heralded the season by choosing a new kite from the nearby general store, a required purchase to replace the demise of the prior year’s airborne missile from the inevitable crash into the fence protecting the dunes, the irrevocable tangling of the string, or the occasional loss at sea. We both looked forward to the almost daily event, the feel of the wind whipping our faces, our attempts to enmesh our feet firmly in the forgiving sand, the familiar ebb and flow of string slack and taut, alternately dipping toward earth and straining toward the heavens. Flying a kite requires a serious amount of concentration, a focus on the activity at hand that precludes contemplation of anything else that was going on in our lives. Perhaps that’s why we enjoyed it so much. Its simple pleasure forced us to live in the moment.

My son’s joyful request delivers me back into that mode, that time when I could simply exist in the present, without worrying what the future holds for both of my autistic sons. I am hopeful that when I’ve extended the tradition to the new generation and purchased a kite for my child that the act of flying, the give and take of gravity, will return me to that simpler place, where the only push and pull I considered was the tether of white leash in my hand, not the intimate dance of meeting my own needs versus those of my special needs children. I hope that when we fly a kite he will be as engaged in the activity as I was, and will forget his struggles, as I once did mine. I hope that he will love the act of releasing his treasure to the blue beyond as much as I did, as much as I hope to do again with him.

He reaches his destination and approaches the unwitting family, asking with both assurance and authority to “try it please”. Their own boy graciously concedes, and without entirely relinquishing his hold allows my son to grasp tightly to his prize, encouraging him to tilt his head toward the clouds so as not to miss a moment of flight. His body remains earthbound, but I can almost see his imagination soar as he envisions what will transpire far above him. He is amazed at the distance, the singing of the string binding him to his new friend’s treasure. I am amazed as well, and grateful that my child can immerse himself in this event as I once did.

And I am grateful as well for this moment, this connection to my youth, and the ability to share it with my boy, my beautiful, complicated boy.