These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

This week I am participating in the WEGO Health “Advocating for Another” carnival. Over the next few days, I will be answering blog prompts to talk about our life as an autism family. All of the posts on my blog this week are dedicated to my son James, in recognition for what an amazing brother he is.

Today’s prompt: A few of my favourite things – Write 5-10 of your favourite things about your loved one. Celebrate their uniqueness and be sure to tell us why those are your favourite things.

I make a big deal of the fact that my boys are great brothers to one another, and that is something that means a lot to me. I try to encourage a positive relationship between them in whatever ways I can. Today, though, I want to celebrate them as individuals.


A few of my favourite things about James

1. He is snuggly. When he is sleepy, or simply wants a cuddle, he climbs into my lap and his body relaxes completely against mine. At those moments, he is like my very own teddy bear, all softness and warmth. No matter how bad I might be feeling on any particular day, those snuggles bring a smile to my face. Because how could that not make me feel better?

2. He has a natural sense of empathy that goes beyond his own family. He truly cares about what is going on with other people, and he has an uncanny ability to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. This is one of the things that makes being around him such a magical experience.

3. He has a great imagination. His mind travels to places that would be beyond my wildest dreams. He creates stories about dragons and princesses, about magic toucans on faraway worlds, about unicorns that glitter and shimmer in the dark and fly to the tops of mountains. If you ever want to escape for a while, all you have to do is ask James to tell you a story.

4. He likes running. This interest may or may not stay with him, but for now, I am really enjoying the fact that he likes to go out for little jogs with me. Running was an interest that I shared with my dad, and to be able to share it with my son as well is tremendously special. It is a lot of fun, and it gives us a bit of time together, just the two of us.

5. He is passionate about what he believes in. OK, sometimes the passion comes across as a drama queen kind of attitude that drives me insane, but I love that James speaks his mind. I love the fact that he has strong opinions and a willingness to express them.

A few of my favourite things about George

1. Many people think that children with autism are not capable of affection, but George definitely is. He has a heart full of love and an endless supply of hugs for those dear to his heart. He is tall and gangly, but he is still just about able to clamber onto my lap for a hug. When he outgrows that ability, I will be truly sad.

2. He is a very funny kid. He finds humour in the oddest places and is so enthusiastic about it that we cannot help finding it absolutely hilarious. The humour is handily packaged with the most infectious laugh you ever heard. Once George gets going with his laughter, that’s it. You may as well cancel whatever plans you had because you’ll be too busy rolling around on the floor.

3. He’s a technogeek. Some people just have a knack for figuring out how things work, and George is one of them. When he was about five, I was trying to get the DVD player to work. George watched me wrestle with the thing for a while, and then he clicked his tongue impatiently, elbowed me out of the way, and pressed one button to get the movie going. It is useful to have a built-in tech support person.

4. He is determined. George has definitely inherited a stubborn streak that is in both me and in his dad. If he wants something, he will find a way to get it. There is no problem that he gives up on, and he can be very resourceful in how he goes about finding a solution. Sometimes this is not great from a parent’s point of view, but I love the fact that George just does not give up. On anything.

5. He has a fantastic memory. He only has to go somewhere once in order to know its location, what there is en route, and how long it should take to get there. It can be a little awkward when we’re trying to get from Point A to Point B and George knows where every single donut shop in between is, but if we’re ever in doubt we can just ask him for directions. Who needs a GPS when you have a child with autism in the car?

(Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle)


A Kind Of Magic

I am participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

When James was about four, he got himself an imaginary friend. The friend’s name is Albert and his age varies from 3 to 12, depending on the day. According to James’ descriptions, Albert is a yellow monster with tall hair. He stays at home and sleeps while James is at school, and he is responsible for every single mess or piece of mischief-making that we blame on James.

Although Albert the monster features less in James’ incessant chatter these days, he still makes the occasional appearance – inasmuch as an invisible, imaginary monster can make an appearance.

I have come to recognize that Albert has served an important dual purpose in James’ life. First, James talks to him when he’s lying in bed at night, using him to process the events of his day and work through any conflicts he might be experiencing. And second, the monster fuels his imagination. James makes up a staggering variety of monster stories, and it is enormous fun to see where his mind takes him.

Monster hasn’t been around for a few days, but yesterday, someone else showed up.

I was industriously working wasting time on the Internet, and James was dancing around, chattering away to someone or something that only he could see. All of a sudden, he was by my side, telling me about a giant pink rabbit that was bouncing around in the kitchen.

“You should see it, Mommy!” said James, quivering with excitement. “Come on, look at it!”

“But I can’t see it,” I said to him, raising my hands palm-side-up in anI-don’t-know gesture.

Without missing a beat, James said, “Close your eyes and you’ll see it.”

His words instantly infused me with a sense of that childlike magic unique to six-year-olds who still know the true meaning of imagination.

As adults, we only see with our eyes. Most of us don’t take the time to look beyond what is literally in front of us. Children know how to see things with their minds. They can see possibilities of magic where most of us don’t even know there’s anything there. They are the ones who truly have vision.

I did what James suggested. I closed my eyes and really tried to look. And sure enough, there was that giant pink rabbit, dancing around my kitchen.

(Photo credit: This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)


The Princess And The Dragon

A few days ago, I was play-wrestling with my kids in the living room. They were beating me hands-downs. I mean, it’s hardly a fair contest, is it? There are two of them and one of me, so I was at a mathematical disadvantage right from the outset.

So anyway, there we were, rolling around on the floor. I was lying face-down trying not to choke on bits of carpet. James was sitting on my legs poking his very pointy elbows into my back. And George was trying to pull my head off my neck. All of a sudden, James lost his balance, rolled off me, and bumped his head lightly on the table.

Instantly, the wrestling came to an end (much to my relief, it must be said) and James started screaming in outrage, underscoring the theory that he was born with the drama queen gene that runs in my husband’s family. When I had managed to calm him down and convince him that not only was he not bleeding to death, he hadn’t even broken the skin, he said to me, “Do you know how much that hurt?”

“How much did that hurt?” I obligingly asked him.

He replied, “That hurt more than a pickle falling on my eyeball.”

James’ use of words is just incredible. His extensive vocabulary coupled with a colourful imagination results in word pictures unlike anything I’d be able to come up with. I mean, a pickle falling on your eyeball? How do you even think of that?

It beats the time we asked him to tell us a story, and he said, “Once upon a time there was a poo. The end.”

His imagination clearly wasn’t firing on all cylinders that day, although for a week after that, I couldn’t get the South Park song “ Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo” out of my head.

More often than not, though, James does come up with really creative stories. It used to be that he would provide the plot and I would turn it into a coherent story, but now he doesn’t even need me to do that.

Yesterday evening, while I was cooking dinner, James was sitting at my desk busily working away with a piece of paper and a pencil. When he was done drawing, he joined me in the kitchen, showed me his picture, which depicted a girl standing at the window of a castle and a dragon flying by, and solemnly said, “I am going to tell you a story about this picture.”

I sat down with my boy and listened as he spun a wonderful tale…

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who lived in a castle. She had long black hair and the prettiest dresses in the whole wide world. One day, Dragon came to visit the princess. She wasn’t scared, because this was a friendly dragon and she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. She took him to the back yard, and gave him tea and cookies.

The dragon told the princess that he wanted her to give him one of her pretty dresses. The princess asked why he wanted a dress, and he told her it was a surprise.

The princess had lots and lots of dresses, so she gave one to the dragon. He finished his tea, played in the sandpit, and then left with the dress in a plastic bag.

The next day, the dragon came back, and he had the handsomest prince in the world with him. The dragon said, “You were lonely so I made you a prince to marry. And my granny turned your pretty dress into a wedding dress.”

The prince and the princess loved each other, and the princess put on the pretty wedding dress, and they got married.

The end.

Personally, I think the princess was kind of slutty to get married to someone she didn’t know, but I still think it’s a lovely story.

(Photo credit:


Another World

My son James, who is all of five years old, has a wonderful imagination. When he’s lying in bed at night, after the lights have been turned off, I lie down beside him and as he snuggles up against me, he and I come up with bedtime stories. Well, James comes up with the basic plot, and I just turn said plot into a coherent tale.

Here is last night’s story:

Once upon a time, there was a little boy whose name was James. James was a very good boy who loved his family, did a great job putting his toys away at the end of the day, and gave lots of hugs to his big brother George.

And so one day a giant magic toucan came to see James. The magic toucan said, “James, you have been a very good boy. You ate all your dinner and put your toys away, and you’ve been super-nice to your brother. And so I am going to take you on a special trip.”

James climbed onto the toucan’s back, and the toucan took off and started flying. Together, James and the toucan flew over the fields and oceans, going higher and higher into the sky. They went so high that they went all the way into space. But James was not afraid. The toucan was a magic toucan and he would keep James safe.

After flying for a long time, James and the magic toucan landed gently on another world. It was a planet of brilliant green grass that was soft to walk on, white beaches where the sand wasn’t too hot, and blue, blue seas. There were beautiful flowers and many, many butterflies of all colours. Even though it was daytime on this world, when James looked at the sky he would see twinkling stars that looked like diamonds, and far, far away, he could see the Earth that he had just come from.

On the grass there was a picnic table made of gold, and on the table there were all of James’ favourite foods. There was pizza, and sandwiches, and chicken nuggets, and fruit, and ice cream. There was apple juice, milk and hot chocolate.

As James looked at the picnic table, he heard the sound of children laughing, and then he saw his friends running towards him. James and his friends sat down at the table and ate the delicious food, and drank the delicious drinks. As they ate and drank, they talked and laughed and had a great time together.

When the meal was done, James and his friends went to play on the beach. They frolicked in the water and built magnificent sand castles. They ran around, playing tag and having races.

All the time, the magic toucan was there, making sure the children were safe and having a good time.

Eventually, it was time for James to go home. He said goodbye to his friends, and then the magic toucan took James around the corner, where James saw the biggest slide he had ever seen. The slide had walls going all the way around, and little windows in the walls.

James climbed into the entrance of the slide, counted to three, and off he went! Down, down, down the slide went, turning this way and that. James had a fantastic time on the slide, and he looked out of the little windows as he went down. The slide went all the way back down through space, and ended – in James’ bedroom!

When James came out of the bottom of the slide, he landed right in his bed, and his Mommy was there to put the blankets over him and tuck him in. James was so tired from his adventures, and he drifted off to sleep and had beautiful dreams about all of the wonderful things he had seen and done.

The end.