Could it be otherwise?
I don't think so, for he is the big "E" in my life.
By one minute.
(Not that he ever lets me or his brother forget it.)
So, for once, this won't be all about autism, though it certainly informs and affects Ethan's life, presses in upon him. And he likes that not one bit, declaiming with wailing voice, "Why did I have to have a twin brother with autism? Why can't I have a regular brother, like other people?"
And I have no answers for him, no easy solace, no words of comfort, other than to agree that it is indeed hard. But also this rejoinder: that we don't pick the families we are born into, that we all just have to play the hand we're dealt.
And I hold him while he cries. And I remind him of the wonderful things about his brother, while making sure he knows it's OK for it not to be OK.
He is allowed to be mad at, even to hate and resent his brother. He is not allowed to be cruel to him, a line clearly drawn in the sand.
Ethan, the boy, will talk about his feelings. I hope this is something he can retain, that it will survive the rough pitch and tumble of male adolescence, let him grow into a man who will talk about his feelings openly with his closest friends, with the woman he loves.
Ethan, the boy, is passionate. He loves his friends, basketball, computers, and his toys/collections.
His current obsession? Gogo's Crazy Bones. Never heard of them? Then you're probably not living with a 7 to 9 year old right now.
He is of the age of changes. From one minute to the next, quick and quixotic, patterns long stable are shifting, tossed aside as he stretches his "big boy" muscles, both literal and figurative.
Conversations with Ethan are still so often delightful (except when he is going on and on about Basketball players and game stats, and then I am looking for the knitting needles to puncture my eardrums with).
I am still central to his life. And I hold my breath knowing that I will blink and he will be releasing my hand as we walk down the street, moving on into Tweendom; and then beyond.
Looking forward is a little scary; unknown adventures in parenting await. So let me look back for a moment, tell a story from the beginning:
Ethan was newborn, still in the hospital, maybe 2 days old. I was looking at him versus Jake, marveling at how vastly different they were from each other. Not quite night and day, but barely twin-like.
Jacob was a newborn straight out of central casting: a big-headed, Winston Churchill resembling, bald but for tonsure-like blond fringe, classic Gerber baby.
Ethan... not so much so. With his smaller head, fine features, visible and expressive eyebrows, scalp covered in dark but thin and sparse hair, including seeming sideburns (that led us to quip we should have named him Elvis instead) he resembled nothing so much as a miniature middle-aged balding guy. Seriously. But in a cute way.
So that day, when he was sleeping in my arms, I leaned down and whispered in his ear: "I know your secret: you're not really a baby. In reality, you're a tiny forty year-old man, somehow magically transformed into an infant. But don't worry, I won't tell anyone, your secret is safe with me."
As soon as those words were out of my mouth - I swear this is true - still deep asleep, his mouth broke into a giant grin and his eyes popped wide open then rapidly rolled back and forth in a crazy fashion.
This went on for about 5 seconds, a near perfect rendition of a Groucho Marx comedic eye roll. Then his eyes snapped shut, his smile vanished and he was once again, simply, a sleeping newborn.
But we had shared a moment; and I knew, I knew.
Here he is, then:
|Ethan, 5 minutes old|
|Ethan 8 years old|
E is for Ethan...
Energetic, enthusiastic, enchanting, exhausting, extraordinary, eminently lovable.
Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday writing meme. And now, of course, "E" is one of my very favorite letters. Bet you can guess the others.
I'm grateful for... because I am eternally grateful for my son, Ethan.
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