Saturday, July 29, 2017

Confessions of a Retired Human Roadrunner

Mu with AAC looking at a rainy sunrise. Image of a teen in a hooded raincoat, his brown hand holding an iPad mini bare trees mixed with evergreens white houses and a pastel sunrise in the background. ©Kerima Cevik

My husband, Mu’s father, was by all accounts, an angelic, friendly, impeccably behaved child. Then there’s me. If you want to know where Mu gets the hurling of his 200 lbs upward and spinning in mid-air, that would be from me.

When I was young, the adjective most frequently used to describe me was “exhausting.” As a toddler, I single-handedly brought a Panamanian Chinese restaurant to a standstill. 30 years later on my return to Panama, the owner saw me sitting with my father and family and called me by name from across the restaurant, laughing while telling me in Spanish that I was the only child he had ever banned from his bistro. I apparently loved running under tables and the poor waiters were frustrated Wile .E. Coyotes to my Roadrunner.

By age four, my weary mother took me in to be assessed in the hope that I could be put on Ritalin in order to slow my speed down to the legal US highway limit.  What she was told was I was gifted and should be challenged in school and at home so as not to bore me. Disappointed (and remember, exhausted) my mother took to beating me until I slowed to what she considered a compromise speed. Finally, too tired to chase me, she’d release me to the outdoors each day after school and piano practice and send my older sister chasing after me back in the direction of our house each evening around dinner time.

Like me, our son organizes his brain by movement. It seems to help his vestibular system and his focus. When he is running, jumping, spinning, that means he's happy and engaging his brain. After such activity, he focuses, studies, and processes a prodigious amount of information.

Here is the critical point. When I say he's a human roadrunner I am not saying he’s a burden. I’m saying he’s his mother’s son. When he stops moving, sits meekly, and quietly complies with every request it's time to call an ambulance because that means he's ill and it's an emergency.

A typical day at home involves a great deal of movement followed by periods of learning, studying and leisure time. I am in terrible shape but he puts me in the position of having to get in shape and this is an incredibly good thing, particularly since I’m trying to recover from a lifetime of health challenges brought on by past harm done to me by others. At some point I won't be limping after him, I'll be able to catch him at a flat run. That will mean I'm Senior Olympics material. That’s a good goal, and everyone needs a goal in life.

What does happen each time I see a carpet slide, or leap or spin, is I remember standing under street lamps as a young child in the Canal Zone, spinning on one foot endlessly before I knew what a Dervish was and before I saw my first ballerina en pointe. I remember and as he runs through his impromptu acrobatics I throw my head back and laugh in understanding and memory of the sheer joy in it!

In those moments of silent explosive movement, I think “that’s my boy.”

Don't fool yourselves. As Yoda would say, "Autistic he is. A burden he is not."

First published as a Facebook Note. Picture published with permission of the subject.

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