Tuesday, November 1, 2011

now I'm going to say the E-word

Every night last week Calder had been counting down the days until my birthday.  After his bedroom routine, as I would  leave his room, he would stop me.  "Hey mom, I'm growing bigger".  "Yes sweetie you are, every day getting bigger".  "And Mom, 6 more days until your birthday".  Every night he said that.  "6 days...5 days...4 days...3 days ...2 days...only one more day!" . On Friday morning, the first thing he said to me after I woke him up: "It's your birthday!"

Friday was a regular schoolday.  Regular, with some halloween activities throughout. School party and costume parade, special activities and snacks.  I was involved in these things and so I was in Calder's classroom a lot this day.  As soon as we got home from school,  I handed him off to Grandma and Pampa, who were visiting from Denver so I could busy myself with more things.

I had volunteered to purchase supplies for the Costume Ball which was that evening in his school gymnasium....which meant, bake 150 cookies as well as buy hundreds of tiny trinket prizes.  After setting up for the party I hurried home for a quick bite to eat and to nurse Elodie.  As I was walking up to the front door I noticed Calder had written in chalk, on the sidewalk:

Eric and I had agreed to celebrate my birthday on Saturday since Friday was just too jam packed with other obligations.  But we hadn't explained this alteration to Calder.
The whole gang walked to the school together to attend the Costume Ball. I danced with Calder for a little while, but I often needed to tend to the snacks and prizes, running here and there.  At one point Calder turned to Eric and said "but what about mom's birthday?"

Now that last bit really gets me.  Empathy is this huge "attainment", which sits on the pedestal of human development,  like a trophy.  Some  young kids and adults even, do not have a trophy of the E. kind. In some autism circles, the E. word is a pretty sensitive issue.  Some say empathy can be taught.  Some say spectrum folks lack empathy.  Maybe empathy is simply a skill that we are all endowed with at some degree.  But on this particular Friday, I saw that my child is quite capable of empathy.  It touched me and moved me and I think because of those innocent words from such a young kid, I may have had the best birthday without celebrating my birthday ever.

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