Monday, September 12, 2011

Exciting Discovery!

I've been going to write about this recent discovery for the past three days and somehow or other always managed to put it off for one reason or another.

This evening, I sat down at the computer around 5:30-6 p.m. and was intending to take the time -just a few minutes time is all I figured I would need -to write and tell about something we just learned about 3 days ago.

Well, that was my initial plan, but you know how that old adage goes about the best laid plans of mice and men -well, in this instance -women -and here it is now, after midnight and I am now finally getting around to the writing of this post.

I got waylaid by my Reader and the news that there were 72 new posts there, waiting patiently, for me to read and I thought oh sheesh, it won't take me THAT terribly long to read those posts, will it?

I should have remembered that today, being what today was, it would be a time of reading the memories of so many folks as they recounted where they were, what they were doing on September 11, 2001 and the heartfelt posts I encountered -well, it took me a whole lot longer than I had anticipated to clear my reader! Not that I am regretting doing that reading first -not in the least -but when so many people whose blogs I follow have such beautiful things to say, are trying (still, as am I) to make sense of a totally non-sensical event ten years in our past, I should know better too than to think about commenting on those posts. Why? Because they bring out the NEED deep inside of me to speak and when that happens and I am reading and going to comment, well -it also means the comments I leave behind then could pass for several different yet very similar posts of my own. Yes, I get even more long-winded in times like those!

But anyway, I'm not going to make this about my thoughts on this day but rather on the event I had initially planned to write about shortly after it happened on Thursday.

Mandy told me Thursday evening she'd just received a text message from Kurt's TSS about something that she had meant to mention to Mandy but had overlooked telling her about this so she sent her a text message about it.

It seems that Miss Dawn (that would be Kurt's TSS) had observed over the past couple of days that a little boy in Kurt's class, who sits directly across the table from Kurt, has been making overtures, so to speak, to Kurtis in class and out on the playground too, and has now made himself to being a "friend" to Kurtis!

And sure, that's a normal thing for a kindergarten kiddo to reach out and want to be friends, isn't it?

Pretty much so, yes I think it is but for us -and especially for Kurtis -this is a spectacular event!

Kurtis, who was five in April and had attended a pre-school program for the two years prior to starting kindergarten, has never had a peer who he regarded as being a "friend." What's more, he's never in those five years of his life had a playmate his age or even near his age, with whom he could develop a friendship of any type either away from his pre-school program nor did he develop any "friendships" so to speak, in pre-school that he actually referred to as a child being a friend!

Needless to say, both Mandy and I were really excited over this bit of news. Excited and also, teary-eyed too as social skills are generally something that autistic children are often very slow to acquire and let's face it, developing a friendship does take a wee bit of the social type skills, does it not?

This has been and still is one of the problematic areas for Maya -learning how to associate with and play with other children in her own age range in a way that the other child enjoys the encounter as much as Maya would. She's doing better in that respect but still it's a struggle -partly (I think) because Maya has a tendency to want to control these things, to have her way, to not comprehend others feelings either. Sometimes, she also comes across as being a bit standoffish, smug, arrogant even and well, even small children sense things like that too.

Kurtis though, has been pretty much only exposed to Maya -which in some ways is a good thing -I hope -but yes, it does have its drawbacks to his learning how to adapt to other kids and how to play together with other kids, etc.

But after getting Miss Dawn's message, Mandy asked Kurtis about his class and other kids and such, eventually steering him along to see how much information she could get out of him about this other little boy -named Ethan -and then he popped out with the information about this little fellow, telling Mandy that Ethan is his friend!

I thought about how Mandy, on her first days in kindergarten came to know another little girl in her class who rode the same bus as she did and the two girls struck up a friendship that first week of kindergarten that is so tight, 30 years later, they are still the very best of friends!

I thought too about my own childhood which in some ways could be compared to Kurt's of having no one around to play with at times because I was an only child and sometimes, Kurt almost seemed to have an existence similar to mine of no one close to play with. But then, I think back and realize for me, that was only true when it came to meals, to evening hours or days when I couldn't go outside to play because of inclement weather. But from the time I was about 3-4 years old, I was not lacking in playmates, not at all!

The way this neighborhood where I live today and which is where I grew up too, sixty plus years ago, has changed is in the fact there are very few children on this street now and when I was a youngun' there was quite an ample supply of children along this street!

The number of houses on this street has changed slightly from then to now with there being five more houses along this road now than there were when I was a child. But back then, there were 12 homes where there were anywhere from 1 to 13 children living in those houses! So, even if each home then if the family living there had only 1 child, that would make 13 children on the street. Right? Today, there are 10 homes with families with at least 1 child -but 4 of those homes that one child is an only child. Today, only one family along this street has more than two children and that would be our next-door neighbor who has three children but, one of those three is now about 23 years old and her youngest is now 16 years old too -a bit too old to be a playmate for either Maya or Kurtis! The families along here with just one child -well the youngest of those "only child" families is about 14 years old now -again, just a tad too old for my grandkids. Actually, there is one little boy along this street -about 4 houses down the road from us -who is the same age as Maya and he, Maya and Kurtis are the youngest children along this road. So the pickings for a friend close to home are slim to nil for the grandkids you see!

Just for the heck of it, I just added up how many children there were living along this street when I was a kid -42, between the ages of from babies up to age 16-17! Compared to today's count which comes to 17! Heck of a difference there, wouldn't you say?

Maya does have two other friends -sort of -who are her age range but they live a good ways up the street from us and it's a different situation now in that you have to arrange play dates now -something that was totally unheard of in my days growing up here!

If we wanted a "play date" back then we simply went outside, over to whoever's house, stood out in front of the house and called out the other kid's name to get them to come out and play (provided it was okay with their parent at that time.) Those days had evaporated even when my kids came along and wanted to play because then, they would pick up the phone and call each other to make sure it was okay and then, they would venture out to do whatever!

So anyway, needless to say but the ability to have a peer playmate available has been a concern of mine for the grandkids but at least now that we know there is a little boy who sits across the table from Kurtis who has extended himself to the our little guy in friendship -at least while they are in school -makes the way  the world is being colored for Kurtis now anyway, just a little brighter picture for me to see in my mind's eye!

Definitely is the best feeling I've had for a long, long time with respect to the grandkids well being!


Suldog said...

I think back to my childhood neighborhood, and then compare it to the neighborhood where I now live. Back then, we always had enough to make two baseball teams, sometimes more than enough. There aren't more than four or five kids on our entire (much longer) block these days. How times change! And back then, everybody went out and played, roaming far and wide without a care. Now every kid seems to have a parent hovering nearby.

Glad to hear the good news!

Linda said...

That IS exciting news that Kurtis has found a friend in Ethan! May they have a long and happy friendship together doing all those things that boys like to do!

Maggie May said...

That is wonderful news.
It is always a worry when a child or (grandchild) has a problem as my oldest has too. He does have one or two people who he likes & who are concerned about him, but he does lean heavily on his brother.

When we were children we were free to roam the streets and hang about with lots of friends. However times have changed & in a city like ours, children cannot go wandering off on their own. It really wouldn't be safe.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Travis Cody said...

What a special thing for Kurtis!

TechnoBabe said...

Yay, Kurtis has a school chum and can add some social skills to his life. Nice post about how it was on your street when you were growing up compared to how it is now.

Rick Gleason said...

Of course I'm happy for you and Mandy, but happier more for Kurtis. Watching kids grow up and the friends they make is a fun thing. Important especially to be ever mindful of the friends they choose.

Your story about Kurt's and Mandy's friends hit a nerve, especially when you mentioned Kurtis' friend's name "Ethan." I thought to myself, "how ironic."

My son Matt when he was about 9 or 10 years old (I'm guessing) had a best friend, also named Ethan. Ethan was a scrawny little kid and wore thick glasses. The kind of kid that had you looked up the word "Nerd" in the dictionary, you might expect to see his photo, or at least something close to it. In many ways he was a lot like me as I was as nerdy as they came. I have proof!

Well one day after church and seeing the both of them together, as they normally were, I asked my son (and I hate to admit it, even though it was a bit tongue-in-cheek) "Matt, why do you hang out with Ethan, he's such a nerdy kid?" Matt's reply was tainted with a small sense of anger and maybe even a little hurt. All he said was "Dad, he's my friend."

Well, I backed off as Matt's response was such that there was nothing more to be said. In fact I immediately felt bad, really bad (and still do), that I had misspoken and questioned my son's choice in who he wanted to be his friend. Ethan after all came from a great family, his parents were our friends. He was nice boy.

Fast forward now about 20 years. My son Matt is married and although they don't live close to one another Ethan and he are still the best of friends. They see each other often and stay in regular touch through email, etc. as best friends do. Ethan, to say the least, is no longer that nerdy little kid I once thought him to be. He's a body builder now and I would guess can easily bench-press several hundred pounds. Whenever I see him, I always ask him to flex those massive muscles. All I can say is wow! He's grown up to be quite a man.

Better than all that though, Ethan today is an officer in the United States Army. As I write this he's serving in Afghanistan, a leader among our American troops. I'm proud to know him, prouder still that my son Matt had the sense and good-fortune to choose him as his best friend.

Boy was I wrong. Lesson learned? While it's always good to keep an eye on those your kids associate with, don't be too judgmental and things aren't always as they appear.

I think I have just created a great entry here for my own blog. Thanks Jeni for bringing up the subject!