I had a little moment today. Thought I would share.
Because we lack a magnetic fridge, I post Ben's schoolwork on the pantry door. Right now it's covered with work from last year, summer school, and a few items from this year. Today as I was making some tea, (Sadly NOT for a toddy) I turned and looked at one of his pieces from summer school. Its entitled Self Portrait.
Now, any 3 year old would have made a picture just like it. It's a multitude of scribbled lines in multiple colors with no shape or reason. At the time he had no concept of the work "draw"--he's just starting to pick it up now--and no idea whatsoever of "Self". The ability to "draw" comes with time--typical or no. And as for the concept of self--well, he'll get it one day. (hell, I've met some 30 somethings drinking cheap beer who barely had a grasp of it…) But it struck me this morning how this self portrait was a bit more true to life than imagined.
Lemme tell a story about the first time I saw a Van Gogh. (and don't worry, this is not a preface to saying my son is an artistic genius) My mother and I were at the Getty, and we walked into a gallery that held one of Van Gogh's iris paintings. Now, I'll admit I've never been a big fan, but when I came face to face with this painting, I burst into tears. Literally. I am not shitting you. Tears streaming down my face. A blubbering idiot over a picture of flowers. Because in that moment--I got it. I understood his madness, his despair, his intensity. When you come into the presence (and I think you have to be right there, to see the color, the brushstrokes--a book just doesn't cut it) of a van gogh, you suddenly see the world as he saw it--and it is so intense and maddening that, for me at least, it was too much. I have never forgotten that experience. At that moment, I understood all those damn art classes I had to take for my general ed requirements.
And today, as I stood and looked at this page, I felt it again. Ben experiences so much at once--his senses on overload, his mind racing from one thing to the next. All of it a blur sometimes, incomprehensible most of the time, a multitude of thoughts and emotions of which he cannot make sense. As much as this is the scribbles of a 3 year old who was told to draw himself--words he didn't really understand at the time--he did create a self portrait. This IS my little man--in all it's color and beauty, as well as its frenetic energy.
It was a fitting reminder to me today as we fight through this latest round of whining/growing/detox/general malaise that is being a child with Autism. I am finding that behavior can be cyclical. He can have weeks of fantastic behavior, and then a week of being demon spawn. Lately it feels like we've been getting the grand tour from Dante himself, but I know it won't last. (at least I HOPE it won't last) He's had a rough couple of days, having given up gluten, probably going through withdrawals or he may possibly have a cold, or he's hitting a growth spurt, or the time change has messed him up, or he ate raisins. As you can see, the reasons can be like his actions and subsequently, like this drawing.
I think when I start to remove things here in order to put more up, I'll keep this one around. As a reminder to me of what it's like to see the world through someone else's vision--whether they realized they were showing it to you or not.