Oliver fell off a slide today and his face looks like he went a couple of rounds with the neighborhood bully. I didn't see it because I had stepped away for a minute to help another child on a swing so I wasn't sure how badly he was hurt. Oliver has a high tolerance for pain and rarely cries over minor injuries. But when I heard that shrill panic-hurt cry my heart did flip-flops. My frantic "Where does it hurt?" refrain went unanswered and I searched him up and down for what might be a broken limb. Sickness, injury, pain, fear. These are things that are really hard to mother when you aren't sure about the diagnosis. Two minutes later he was fine and stealing someone's strawberries.
The scene of the slide incident was a birthday party at the home of one of the children from our playgroup. I was very hesitant to attend with Oliver because he doesn't do particularly well in that kind of environment and also because I wasn't sure I was up to spending a lot of time with a group of typical three-year olds. It is too easy to compare. But Oliver did really well: no tantrums, no non-compliance, no retreating to a remote corner of the yard. In fact, he was right in there playing on the playset with the rest of the kids. Oh, and I also realized again that three-year olds are just weird, autism or no. I shouldn't have been so worried. In fact it was good for me because I tend to now pathologize just about everything the poor kid does. And what is normal afterall? I had to leave early and on my way out I ran into balding, middle-aged man picking his nose in the foyer where he thought no one was looking.