Upside Down

2/10/21 Reflection

“He lifts himself into an upside down position on the couch, his legs cycling in the air, then stop, bent and relaxed. “I’m getting too long to go upside down on the couch.” His legs flop over the couch back. “But I have to do upside downs or I’ll stress out.”

I set a pillow on the floor next to an empty wall and suggest he try it. “Clean socks please.” I imagine with regular use the painted wall rubbed supporting this sacred place marred by dirty feet could start looking pretty nasty.

Self-aware for an eight year old, I learned from him everyday. Maybe today I’d call him self-absorbed, like myself, who as teenager falling asleep wondering how my hair would look when I got up for school. (fluff compared to his concerns) The first thing I did when I got up was look in the mirror. I wondered what others would see. Not my grandson. He checks in with himself for himself. “Do I need more sleep? Did I sleep well? Am I hurting anywhere? Takes a survey, belly, knees, back, headache?

He sits on the edge of the bed like an old man, readying to stand, readying to approach another day. Then fifteen minutes later, stands up and feels the floor against his bare feet, feels every fiber of the rug, grimaces at the cold bathroom tile. Some days it’s too much sensory input and he pulls his knees up and returns to bed. I call him again, to come downstairs as his breakfast gets cold. Most days.

Something snags his attention, an idea needing a solution. Often an architectural question he’s exploring, an engineering problem sits in the chute and must be solved before his mind can refocus on an any immediate request.  Come down to breakfast.

“Your voice scares me. I can’t come down.”

Is he crying?

There’s that, his tenderness. “Honey,” I call up the stairs, ever so sweetly, “breakfast.” Each day I must break through a bubble of thin glass he’s blown around himself. I gently request his attention. “It’s a school day.”

How will this fast paced, loud, time scheduled, chock full of transitions world with more and more expectations embrace this brilliant, sensitive and reactive young man? He deserves a world that opens to him, offers him options. Can we support him, teach him what he must know and listen to what he has to tell us?

Will he thrive?

The world seems unready. He and I work to understand and set the stage, create space, identify the elements of a world that responds, that holds him dear, a world he learns to bear.   

This is the world I’ll build for Jess, my fictional character. The world she stumbles through and finds her own way.

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