Friday, December 4, 2009
Bob Comes Out Of The Closet
Bob didn't start life as Bob. He began by being a perfectly normal, chubby little baby who was co-operative enough to poo, pee, sit, crawl, babble, smile and coo all on schedule. My brother John and his missus used to joke that he had a developmental checklist secreted away in his person, which he ticked off for each milestone he reached (oh! I seem to be five months old, so this season I will mostly be rolling). He didn't walk til he was 17 months, but, hey, if someone was toting my big butt from rocker to cradle to car seat, I wouldn't walk either. Especially if that somebody fed me, loved me and seemed to instinctively know that I preferred to be left alone to go asleep, unlike my big brother and sister who caused my mother to have permanently elongated orang-utan arms from their constant demands for attention.
It was great to have a good baby.
Toad No.1 nearly destroyed my will to live as he couldn't break wind without a round of applause. It was like having my own personal J-Lo, only without the music and nice clothes. Toad No.2 came into the world an All-Knowing Granny and was practically knitting and dispensing sage advice by the age of 1. She was like a pretty Dr Phil.
Toad No.3 didn't evolve into Bob until he was about 14 months old, but his little builder's hat was hiding underneath all the time. I just couldn't see it.
My "good" baby was very happy to quietly receive cuddles and affection, but rarely looked for attention. I was thrilled! I was a busy mum with a house to run, and my beautiful baby was an angel...what's not to love about that? The delay in walking wasn't a big cause for concern, but when he celebrated his first birthday, James and I were a bit perplexed that he had no speech. Nada. Not as much as "mama". Oh, and he didn't wave bye-bye. And we got his hearing checked because sometimes he didn't seem to hear us. And sometimes he walked on his tip-toes.
But we knew he couldn't be autistic because his cousin Conor is autistic and isn't remotely like Bob...this was a few years before I met a certain EastEnder/Donegal lass (fabulous mixture - it was such a pleasure to meet her) who told me "when you've met one autistic kid, you've met one autistic kid". None of the little monkeys have the decency to be identical to each other...autie kids are such divas!
When Bob was 14 months old I was chatting to him in our front room. My blood froze when I realized that he wouldn't look at me. Now, I know I'm no Elle McPhearson, but most kids can tolerate looking at the wan who feeds and clothes them, no matter how aesthetically challenged she may be.
I lay under him...I approached him from the side...I tried to move his face with my hands. He would not meet my eyes.
And even though it would take another fifteen months before he was formally diagnosed, that was the moment that Toad No.3 shed his skin, shimmied into his overalls and reached for his toolkit.
Bob had come out of the closet.
Posted by Jean at 8:44 PM