Editor’s note: I wrote this piece from my son Jack’s point of view, based on many conversations he and I have shared.
One time my mother told me about this movie she watched. It was by a man named Alfred Hitchcock.
In the movie, a woman is lying in a hospital bed. Her face is covered with white bandages. For she just had surgery.
She is the only person you can see on the camera.
The doctors and nurses started to take off the bandages and underneath, the woman was very beautiful. She had a full mouth and smooth skin.
They gave her a mirror and she right away started to scream and cry. She screamed as if tomorrow was gone forever.
Then the camera moved to all the nurses and doctors in the room. Their faces were like hideous monsters, with horns, and long teeth and big, bushy eyebrows.
I don’t know what this movie means. Except maybe the woman wanted to be something she was not.
Sometimes I want to be something I am not.
When you look at me, you see a boy who talks to himself and is jumping around and flicking his fingers.
You see my autism.
Maybe you see chaos. While your life is calm regular order. But the things you think are good and right, I find weird and uncomfortable.
An unexpected change in plans.
Bright loud fireworks.
Casserole foods with peas and carrots all mixed up with the chicken.
I say what I mean.
I have no secrets.
I cannot tell you a lie. It is for me impossible. I have to speak the ideas in my brain, or the words will turn to fire on my tongue.
When I am hungry, I want food that tastes good to me.
A cheeseburger with no tomato and no lettuce and a side of French fries.
My favorite place for a cheeseburger is called the Common Place Eatery. We always go there after we see my doctor. The tables are shiny. My mom and me, we sit quietly and we have our lunch.
Eatery is another word for restaurant.
I like quiet.
When I want to know something, I ask.
And about bad words. Why? Why is one word bad and not the other?
What makes H&^^ and f^%$ and sh#@ so terrible, while other words. Like rainbow and sunshine and cupcakes and puppies are good?
Who decided this? For me, it makes no sense.
These are the words I think should be bad: school, eggplant, homework, and swine.
A swine is a pig. It descends from the wild boar.
These are the words I think should be good: puppies, shiny, pizza, and Febreze.
I love Febreze. Especially the lilac one. It smells very good. When my mother and I go shopping I always try to sneak it into the cart.
The other day I was in Target and I saw a man walk by wearing his pajamas. They were very bright red like Christmas and had dogs all over them.
Pajamas! In a store. It was 3:30 in the afternoon and not the dark night or even time for bed. To think. The doctors say I have no idea of social norms.
I jump a lot. Jumping makes me feel good. It makes me feel loose, and happy, and alive.
I bet it would make you feel good too.
Try it. Try jumping in the middle of your day. Take the air from your lungs and move it around your body. Feel your heart beat strongly. Breathe very deeply.
Jump like you could touch the stars with your fingertips. Jump like you don’t care about who is watching.
Someone is always watching.
I do not care.
Someone is always listening.
I do not care.
I do not care who hears me yell F^&% when I bump my elbow, or who sees me rub my hands together fast.
This is who I am.
This is who I was supposed to be.
Maybe. I was meant. In some small way, to set the world alight.
When you look at me, you see a simple life.
But really, it is a life full of simple pleasures.
Salty fries covered in ketchup.
A soft puppy in the early morning light.
The fresh smell of purple flowers on a winter afternoon.
You can have these things, too. You do not need autism for it.
Say what you mean.
Do not wear your pajamas. In Target.
Eat food that tastes good, and sit in the quiet. Every once in a while, move to clear your thinking.
Don’t try so hard to be like everyone else. That you wake up one morning and forget. You are already beautiful.
Come, jump with me.
For a moment, take a seat at my shiny table. Imagine the ideas we might have.
And please, do not forsake me. For all you thought before we met.