Let me tell you a little bit about my typical three and a half year old, Jackson. What a nut.
When I picked him up from school yesterday I asked him what he ate for lunch and his response was “fart pizza.” He was so impressed with his own joke that he laughed hysterically for the entire ride home (and peed his car seat a little). It took everything I had not to laugh too. I love that I “get” this kid, (and get to have this kid). Darn it that I should have to wait a few years before reading him Chelsey Lately at bedtime.
There isn’t a person on the planet more excited to be alive than Jackson. He shows this by waking up every morning ready to tackle the big questions (to which I NEVER can supply a good answer). How parents continually manage to come up with satisfying comebacks I will never know.
“Mommy, why does does (long, pensive pause) … does (long, pensive pause) … does (long, pensive pause) …Dino Dan (long, pensive pause) …does like dinosaurs and go to school and camping?” asks Jack.
“Uh…because he is on a sucky-ass show called Dino Dan,” my husband blurts out as I dive to throw my hand over his foul mouth.
“Well Jack…the reason is… um…(long, pitiful pause) hey is that bacon I smell?” I reply.
“Oh, OKAY!” Jackson answers with a giggle. He then proceeds to run in place for about three full seconds (closely resembling Fred Flintsone kickstarting his Bedrock-mobile) before he finally tears off to find his brother.
For our added entertainment there is Jackson’s penchant for incorrect correcting. It has my husband and I in constant stitches. And his delivery is classic.
“Jack, mommy LOVES your new (beat to shit hand-me-down that you refuse to take off or let me wash) Spiderman tee,” I say.
To the tune of Mr. T’s I pity the fool, Jackson snaps back.
“I TOOLLLLLLDDD YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU it’s Captain AMEWICA!” he insists. And is wrong.
My husband, the comic book nerd who is probably partially crushed on the inside, is absolutely beaming on the outside at this playful exchange. I live to see the love on Tim’s face.
Genetics never ceases to amaze me. I look at Jackson and think he is his parents’ boy. It’s no doubt the kid has inherited my hilarious personality (and my husband’s fondness of watching 12-14 hours of television per day). The kicker is that these and other fun, inherent traits are so obvious to me. Not necessarily the case with J.R. … Autism strips that joy away unfortunately. Which leads me to think is it the contrast that has me adoring my baby boy so much? Jackson couldn’t be more different than his older brother.
Don’t get me wrong there are days, (okay, sometimes several times a day) that I wonder if Jackson is “okay.” This all probably due to his constant comparing the shape of his poop to that of specific dinosaur breeds, and an unnatural (and unprecedented) fear of Shrek. And chameleons.
In all seriousness I do know Jack does not have autism, but do still worry about his future. My husband may not agree, but I don’t think Jack yet “knows” about his brother’s condition. Jackson is about as dense as his mother in my book, so he has that going for him…for the moment. Yet someday the questions will come. God give me strength to find an intelligible answer without having to quickly refer to a fried food. And Jackson the strength to bear the weight of being born the younger sibling of a child with disabilities. I refuse to imagine the effects…for the moment.
My daily comfort comes mainly from watching J.R. and Jackson beat the living shit out of one another. Yes I realize that’s messed up. Their mutual admiration for the WWE and UFC (thanks Tim!) has them engaging in a balls-to-the-wall, full on brawl EVERY evening that have our few valuables cringing. Their moves are frighteningly professional. If they weren’t choking on laughter I would seriously be afraid they’d choke one another OUT. The funniest part is that J.R. asks for it. He taunts Jackson with fightin’ words like “you want a piece of me?” and “bring it!” I have got to start videotaping this stuff. It may be material for trash television, but in my eyes it is interaction. Typical, boy interaction. What could be more awesome?
Jack’s presence sure has brought out the best in J.R., and I’m not referring to J.R.’s excellent command of the arm-bar and full-nelson. Their relationship often reminds me that J.R. is still in the game of improvement, even if it comes in the form of “Mommy, why does Jackson pee shapes on the sidewalk?”
“J ahhhhhh… J ahhhhhh ,” (not to be confused with J-WOW), Jackson will call out his brother’s name over and over to get him to come play. I cross my fingers every time that J.R will respond, even if it’s with a “No Jack, I don’t want to play Nerf guns. I am playing Wii right now.”
For now, Jack is still offering an “Oh, OKAY!” paired with his Fred Flintsone jog. As for me, I think I can finally supply an answer to my own question (miracle, right?): Jackson doesn’t just bring me the amount of joy that he does simply because his brother has such an opposite personality. It’s that he is unapologetically Jackson. Just as J.R. refuses to be anything but a J.R. As hard as we try to “fix” J.R., he too has tons of character, life, and fight in him. Those are the EXACT boys I wish for, and am proud to be raising.
Jackson, my love, may your life be FULL of unadulterated laughter, wonder, and worship of your brother. Never stop fighting with or for him. Oh yeah and don’t ever lose the potty humor, it has served me well. I love you. I love you both.