We spent a couple of hours over at friend's house ysterday afternoon. His wife was away so he was home alone with his two boys, ages 8 and 6 for the weekend. Doing more than the regular amount of Mr Mom activity lately, I felt for my friend. I called him on Saturday and left him a message asking if he wanted a break on Sunday afternoon. I told him Gail and I would bring our boys, whom I have affectionately been referring to as Kayos recently, over and play with his guys and he could go get a cup of coffee or take a nap or something. He called back and said that would be great.
It was an unbelievably gorgeous day. The kind of day that makes you think of every other beautiful day you've experienced. The memories seem to magnify the beauty of the now. It actually got to the point where Kayos actually had to ask Gail to stop saying "what a beautiful day it was."
We arrived at my friend's house, our boys bounded out of the car and his kids came leaping out the front door of their house. After the initial confusion, we got everyone settled in the back yard to jump off swings, not swing on mind you, but jump off of and climb trees and jump on trampolines and blow bubbles, and chase bad guys. My friend decided he would use his kid-free time to hang some wall paper and cut the front lawn. It wouldn't have been my choice with a few hours of babysitting time but hey, it's his time.
My friend's 6 year old, P. is an amazing little guy; blonde 1950's crew cut, thickly built, like a little linebacker, and full of energy and enthusiasm. He and I spent most of the afternoon blowing bubbles. I held a 32oz bottle of bubble juice that he would stick the bubble wand into and blow with all his might. Whether it was a two or twenty, the bubbles were shiny and no matter what shape they came out of the wand as, they ended up as perfect spheres.
Sometimes he would chase the bubbles and step on them, sometimes he would try to catch them in his mouth. Sometimes he would release the bubbles from the wand and they would take off on little gusts of wind and we would watch them float above the trees and dissapear into the perfectly blue sky.
Gail had the other three guys well in hand. They had moved onto riding bikes and big wheels on the front sidewalk. P. and I were still in the back yard blowing bubbles. Over the course of the afternoon, P. and I exchanged maybe three or four words. We didn't really need much more than that. We had the bubbles, the breeze, the blue sky; at the moment it seemed like all we needed. Unfortunately, those are all the words P. really has. You see he suffers from autism; a disorder which drastically impairs his ability to speak, impairs his ability to interact with others, and effects his interests in a way that causes him to fixate on those things you and I might find inconsequential.
I am thankful for my afternoon with P., hopefully there will be many more like it. I went expecting to chase some young boys around the backyard, get frustrated with them for playing too rough, maybe have someone blow their nose in my shirt tails and hopefully help my friend catch his breath for a moment. I left having learned some things. I always respected my friend and his devotion to both his children but especially P. but I learned a deeper respect for him. I learned what a horrible disorder autism is, how it effects not only the child inflicted with it but his brother and parents, and their every waking and many sleepless minutes. Again something that I knew but only at a very superficial level. I learned or more correctly, P. helped me remember what an awesome thing bubbles can be.