Kitchen Confidence Man (#140)
The Charlie School of Thought (#142)

The Ball's In His Court (#141)

It was a strangely warm, grey-clouded Tuesday, and the fluorescent lights at Target were the brightest seen all day. The aisles sparkled with metallic Christmas gear--ornaments, wreaths, stockings, plastic trees in various sizes pre-strung with little white bulbs. "Issth-muss, issth-muss time iz here," rang out the speakers--or was that my memory of Charlie singing the Chipmunk Song yesterday?

We were there for mundane items--shampoo, Shout, a plastic mattress cover--and walked out with a super-sized hackysack: "I want" said Charlie when I showed it to him, and promptly rolled atop it on his stomach. He chose a jigsaw of Ernie in the tub and Elmo in his PJ's over a slightly damaged box with Chicken Little and three three-eyed blob aliens. But the giant knit ball was the thing.

Charlie did not ask either for "Barney wideos" or "green drink" (a Sprite) at this Target trip. He often chains getting a specific item or doing some specific thing to a certain place and "go Target" has been tantamount to "standing for a long time in the video/DVD section" and then "running to the refrigerator case" for the drink. This afternoon, Charlie held onto my mom's arm and leaned against her as we walked past the aisles from where he has often required firm coaxing to leave. He reached for the new ball in the car, and ran upstairs with it when the therapist (whom he had been waiting for in the front yard) came to work on his reading program and his activity schedule. He called clearly--alertly--for the bathroom on his own and ran in.
I am never quite sure whether Charlie will like a toy or not; Jim and I have learned to show him to see the fun in anything, from bike-riding to brushing his teeth. This does require us to be reasonably good bad actors ("Charlie! Coolest thing ever!" when I first bought him his boomwhackers two years ago.) My mom and I put our heads together to help him put together a 3-D chameleon puzzle (she studied the instructions, I fiddled with the pieces in their slots, Charlie poked and pushed and gripped the little green plastic lizard tightly as he made his runs round the room). He fell asleep peacefully before 10pm, after we had sat quietly on the couch together and listened to "Amazing Grace," another song Charlie sings so clearly, purely, simply.

You just have to send the ball Charlie's way, to give him the chance and know that he can manage to bear the burden of proof of all that he can learn, do, and be; how a day with Charlie makes the ordinary very, very special, indeed.


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