Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 7 - Page 44

CLOSE-UP On the Edge of Thirteen Dear Elijah Bear, I know. Elijah Bear is rather sticky sweet for you, bearing in mind that next month, you will be thirteen. Forgive mom. It just slips out so naturally. I look at you and still see those bright, twinkly, inquisitive eyes of my cuddly baby bear. The eyes so brown they could melt me in a heartbeat, no matter how much mischief they held. I’d walk up on you industriously painting a mural (a la Jackson Pollack) on RENTED apartment walls and experience that instant frozen horror of the moment. Then, you’d turn with those eyes, and I would see that creative ambition sparkling, and I would somehow find strength and Magic Eraser (they invented those suckers just in time) enough to tend to the situation without rendering you incapable of any artwork altogether. I wanted you to learn right from wrong, very grateful you have learned and are learning, but, in the process, I never wanted to see that light extinguish. It was breathtaking to behold. Still is. Excuse me. I know it embarrasses your near-teen self, but every mama thinks her baby is a genius. Try to un-convince us if you dare. I know you won’t. Under the burning face you 44 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses duck or cover with your hoodie is a thirsting soul who needs to hear daily how awesome I still think you are. Nobody ever outgrows that. Trust me. Still, I am realistic enough to know there has been a gradual pulling away for a long while now. Childhood is fast slipping into memory books, adult matters rising to take its place. You long ago chose to pass on your beloved stuffed Spongebob collection for another kid to love on. Visits to the toy section bring out fonder remembrance than enthusiastic desire these days. You are developing your thoughts on this great big massively messed-up world, articulating better and better by the year your sense of outrage and championing of justice. You even display a bit more maturity in doing-and redoing-your own homework these days. Pass or fail, you recognize the responsibility rests in your hands. That is the beginnings of wisdom, son. growing. I hope you know that Dad and I are here, not merely for the cheering on, but also to shed light when the pathways you carve are dark, vision grainy. Shoot, we aren’t afraid to grab a couple of shovels and dig out some of that dirt alongside you. We believe in you. Even when you feel like you’ve royally goofed, we believe in you. Even when you can’t figure out which end is up on your endless emotions, we believe in you. As you approach thirteen and continue on in this fascinating, ever-winding journey to manhood, just remember this: Never let anyone steal the creative spark from those beautiful brown eyes, Elijah Bear. (Ok. So, it may take me a bit more time to stop that one. Bear with me. Wink, wink.) Growing up never has to mean letting it dim. Let it be your fuel instead. Thirteen in less than a month. Whoa. Forgive your old mom for misting up, holding on, still treating you so young at times. I hope you see we DO see you’re Marisa Ulrich is a married mother of four, two autistic. She considers writing on the joy of autism an important mission. She makes her home in rural Kansas. ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 45