Yet another study showing that children on the autism spectrum have roughly the same mercury levels as those without; a family, for their 15 seconds of fame, pretends their son floated off in a makeshift balloon (I'm not even going to bother linking this), and H1N1 continues to send chills up the spines of everyone I know, parents or not.
The truth is, we're in a good groove. "Mommy's happy," Isaac told me today. And then, "You look better." This because I have spent the last week fighting H1N1, trying by turns to rest, get some work done, and wipe down every surface I touch, which is harder than it sounds. But it's up to the fates at this point; I'm a petri dish, no matter how many bottles of hand sanitizer I go through. And every day that passes without Isaac showing symptoms is a gift, and so we wait and see if we can all get through this unscathed.
"You look better." If I could bottle the rush of feeling those words give me and hand them out to every newly-diagnosed parent I know, I would. Four years ago, when we were paralyzed with fear and grief, and experts gave us an endless procession of dark looks, pamphlets and assorted laminated materials, I prayed (and I am not, I admit, a religious person) for my son to look at me, really look at me, and tell me what was on his mind. I prayed for him to argue with me, to tell me how he was feeling, to ask a question, to snuggle up to me in a movie theater, happily munching popcorn. Now, at age six, he's done all these things, and worn the 3-D glasses to boot.
Now he lies in bed reading a pile of Arthur books before bed (six is about average these days), tells us when he's upset and needs a hug and asks everyone--even strangers--how old they are. It's not much, as social gestures go, but the first step is a doozy. I am grateful beyond measure.
And yes, for the sake of clarity, he's on the autism spectrum; autistic if you prefer. Still is, probably always will be. We're not talking recovery or magical thinking here. His autism is a part of him, as much as his sandy hair, his brown eyes, his impish sense of humor.
This year I made a 3/4 year's resolution, which I've never done before, being the sort of person who never makes resolutions of any kind. It came to me partly because of the economy, and partly because the kid is so full of surprises lately. And it's this: don't give in to fear. In these dark, celebrity-obsessed, culture-of-fear times, I'm going to drop a little "Greatest Generation" wisdom on you from FDR's first inaugural address: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." I'm not usually one for Serious Quotes from the Greats, but this one feels very personal right now, especially given the recent (ahem!) Autism Speaks video, which rivals Paranormal Activity for scaring the living crap out of people.
A box came from Amazon tonight. "It's my surprise!" Isaac exclaimed as J. opened it for him. Isaac took out the packing plastic, and then the packing slip (looking frankly a little dubious), only to find nestled beneath a pile of new Arthur books. He paused for a moment, not having yet been inducted into the mysteries of Books That Come in the Mail.
"Where did they come out of?" he asked. But that's a question for another day.