It's the way I have to approach him--softly.
I've taken on watching the landlord's two lads a few afternoons a week...it offsets my rent, which is always a good thing. I'd seen them off and on in my dashes to and from the house, nice boys, 8 & 6 sweet looking, they would wave and smile. When I was offered the job, I took it...it's a whole five steps to work, I like the boys, they both have deep, dark black eyes in beautiful faces.
We get along, doing homework, snacks, then they take to their own times... R (the elder) is content to play his guitar, play his Wii, chat with me, he rubs his close cropped black hair when he's doing his homework. C...ah, C works his way around me, sliding up, touching my hair, he sniffs me. He will crawl in my lap, ask for the dinosaur page I have bookmarked on the laptop, "Have Bob find the dinosaurs!" and he knows the name of every mammal I show him, he knows which dinosaurs are carnivorous or herbivores or omnivores. He knows what that means...he reads the pages, he is far beyond his years in reading skills. We talk of the habitats of various reptiles and insects.... all on his terms.
I cannot move quickly around him, or ask for a hug, as I can from R. C is autistic. He's on the border, dancing on the edge, functional, brilliant, socially inept. He will dash out of that private place where he lives, taking the chance to make contact, his deep, dark red hair catches the sun as he sits on my lap...and lean over and kiss me, hug me hard, hold my face and say, never looking me directly in the eyes, "I love you!" and those two milliseconds mean the world, because with a child like C, it is a hard won phrase.
Sometimes, he will lie next to me on the sofa, and we watch Discovery. Sometimes, he won't answer me no matter how many times I say good-bye. We share popcorn at the movies, no one else can touch our bucket, or he starts to growl. He is learning he has to ask to touch my things, and I can get him to do his homework... we do it in bits and pieces; I allow him a few problems, then I let him dance or sit and stare. I understand his thought process, didn't I raise one who had some of those issues? Don't I go to those places myself?
So, I have two boys again, in my life. I am back to little boy smells and little boy yells and little boy refusals to brush their teeth and wash their hands, and having to remind them to put the seat up and flush.
I have one who will meet my eyes and smile and say please and thank you... and one who will, when I'm reading and I think he is upstairs watching his dinosaur video, will come down, lean on me, and feed me a marshmallow.
I have to move softly around him. Never reach for him, never look directly at him, or ask for affection.
When I get it, though, it's spontaneous, and that much more appreciated.
Our Neville Fact:
Our Neville's daughter has decided she wants to become one of the horse set, therefore, she's signed up for riding lessons with a friend of a friend who once met Princess Anne's husband, Read Admiral Timothy Laurence. She feels this allows her to say she is a friend of the Royals, making her a royal pain to be around, for not only does she wear her riding gear everywhere, bringing bits of horse muck into the house, she tells people to "Naff off!", to the annoyance of Margaret, who thinks Princess Anne should have had her mouth washed out when she said it, much less have to listen to her own daughter spout the phrase.