The Bog of Lost Scholars

September 11, 2006


Filed under: People, Culture, and Society — castiron @ 9:20 pm

For me, 9-11 was a wake-up call.

Not in the sense of awakening new fear for my safety and the safety of those I love, or of a reminder to wake up and appreciate the beauty and brilliance of life. Rather, as I listened to the reaction of friends on- and offline, I realized that I didn’t feel anything about it other than a mild sorrow for the bereaved; NYC is farther from me than Istanbul is from Brussels, and DC almost as far, so what was there for me to get freaked about?

When your reaction to a major terrorist attack on your country that kills thousands is basically “eh”, that’s a strong suggestion that you’ve got a major problem, whether it’s your brain chemistry or a plethora of troubles sucking up your energy.

Suffice it to say that I got some counselling and dealt with the problems, and by time the tsunami and later Katrina hit, I was able to care. But 9-11 still feels a bit like something that happened to other people. I only emerged in time to see the wreckage.

During the months before and after 9-11, I faced the growing realization that my son wasn’t just speech-delayed; something was wrong. In January 2002, we received our first official confirmation that his behaviors were consistent with those of autistic kids.

It’s been up and down since then. He still rarely uses words; he still isn’t toilet trained. He’s obsessed with shredding paper and grass; he’d rather do those things than play with toys. But he’s able to clean up after himself somewhat, to take his plate to the sink, to put his laundry in the hamper, to sing recognizable tunes, to remember a route through a park, to blow a raspberry on my neck, to occasionally look at me when he wants to know if it’s okay for him to do something.

And today, September 11, 2006, we were watching the Debbie Harry episode of The Muppet Show. In one of the segments, Debbie Harry and Kermit sing “The Rainbow Connection” together. After the song was over, my son got up, went to the video shelf…and selected the DVD of The Muppet Movie, the movie the song originally comes from.

It’s a little thing, that the average three-year-old could do, that even my two-year-old nephew might be able to do. But it means that my son made that cognitive leap, that he realized the two different versions were the same song. And it thrills me to tears.

…above all shadows rides the Sun
and stars forever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.
–J.R.R. Tolkien

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