“Two truths and a lie, Mama.” Isaac was engaging me in conversation, a skill he has mastered since those early days of minimal speech. The amazing present juxtaposed with the past is so satisfying. I wasn’t so sure this kind of conversation would ever be possible. “Where, exactly, is he on the spectrum?” I asked that first doctor that diagnosed him. “I’d say pretty significant but there’s really no way to answer that just yet,” she said. A nebulous future and I imagined the worst.
“I’ve worn the same underwear for 5 days, I met a friend on my 5th day of kindergarten, and I like to play with legos.” “Please let the lie be the one about the same underwear for 5 days” I said to Isaac. Turns out, that was true. I don’t know how I missed this. I guess the fact that he still has all the same clean underwear as he did last Sunday should have been a big clue. It is progress that he is actually wearing underwear and it is facing frontwards (he suggested that wearing boys’ boxer briefs backwards was optimal for gas release because of the open flap). Fighting his desire to “go commando” has been a struggle. I mean, I get it. Restrictions suck, especially when they come in the form of Spanx. Why we need to wear these undergarments is a mystery. But, cultural norms dominate and we, as a society, are expected to obey. Isaac included. Pocket pool is far too easy when you don’t comply and school is simply no place for that. Same underwear for five days. Yuck.
Reflecting on this conversation has made me realize that I have found more joy in the spectrum than I ever could have imagined. I see things differently now and am in awe of how our neurons make us such an incredibly diverse and dynamic species. Through Isaac, I have learned that the generally accepted reality is not always the one that is truest or best. He conceived of the multiverse theory before I ever explained it. How? By staring into a glass ball paperweight that has a bunch of little bubbles inside. If that doesn’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.
My boys have a habit of talking before they go to sleep each night. They share a room and although I wish they each had their own space, I am so grateful that life has never provided us with that opportunity. I firmly believe that our Isaac is who he is today because of these chats. Somehow J.D.’s need for conversation and connection rewired our Isaac at a crucial stage and changed the course of time for good. Tonight’s conversation was, for example, about the perils of constipation. Sure they should go to sleep and I yelled “STOP TALKING!” at least twice. But, as I sit here and write, I remind myself that it won’t always be like that. Writing has given me so much clarity on the simplest joys in life. After an endless day of laundry and chores, I see beauty. These little nuggets are why I power through and forge on in this spectrum of life, always taking time to notice the miraculous existence of trees and consider the sheer absurdity of undergarments. The more I think of it, underwear really is strange. I’ll still insist he wear and change those boxer briefs (to school at least) and I’ll still begrudgingly wear a bra. But I’ll ask the why right alongside him because everything should be questioned, even undergarments. Perhaps, in another universe, everyone goes commando and braless and happiness reigns supreme.