(First time visiting during this year's A to Z Challenge?Start here.)
Note:Clearly, I am not going to make it to Z by the end of the month. I considered giving up entirely, but that felt lame. And I considered trying to catch up, but that felt impossible. So, I will persist as best I can, and though it may not be until the end of next month, I will complete the challenge. So stick around.
Noodles. That should have been my first clue that today was going to be one of those days. I walked into the dining room, my hair still wet from the shower, and there was my son, Elliot, seated at the table, napkin on his lap, necktie over his t-shirt, eating a bowl of pasta. For breakfast. He had sprinkled what appear to be almonds over the top, and had some sort of fruit, a peach maybe, sitting on a plate.
"Good morning," I said, attempting to make eye contact. He was staring at his pasta and did not look up.
"Elliot, we have been working on this. When someone says 'good morning', the polite thing to do is look them in the eye and say 'good morning' back. Can you try that, please?"
He looked up at me. Right in the eye. I held back an audible sigh of relief. I felt my shoulders relax, though I hadn't realized they weren't already. I waited. One prompt, said the therapist. Don't nag.
"Nice," he said.
This is puzzling. Usually, he either humored me and mumbles "Good morning," or said nothing at all.
"Nice what?" I asked.
He shrugged. "Nothing."
I realized at that moment that I needed coffee if I was going to continue this conversation. I walked into the kitchen.
I called into the other room. "Do you need a ride to school today?" Brooks Elementary is three blocks away, but sometimes, particularly when there is a chance of rain, or even a chance of a chance of rain, Elliot would rather not risk the raindrops. Cold and wet are his two least favorite sensations, and he avoids them at all costs. Personal hygiene is a challenge for us.
"Not necessary," he called back.
Not necessary. A complete thought. But there was something else that pricked my consciousness when he said that. Not necessary. Alliteration. I am, after all, a middle school English teacher. If there's one thing I know, it's poetic devices. I walked back into the dining room.
"Is today an N day?" I asked.
Elliot beamed. Jackpot. "November ninth," he replied.
Suddenly, it all made sense. Noodles, nuts and a nectarine for breakfast. A necktie. I looked down at his feet. Nikes. I felt triumphant. My son is a ten thousand piece jigsaw puzzle and for one moment, I had actually put two pieces together.