Yesterday Oliver was occupying himself by running in and out of the house. First to the swing then to the kitchen for a glass of water, then to the sandbox, empty now and filled with leftover winter muck just perfect for boys of a certain age. Then he was back in the kitchen for a handful of grapes, and so on. He was in the kitchen when I happened to catch him leaning precariously from a chair to the kitchen sink two feet away with a glass in hand. I stopped myself from instructing him to move the chair closer or from taking the glass and filling it for him, held my breath and just let him do it.
You see! I’ve come a long way.
Then, after he had a mouth full of water and watched as it dribbled out of the corners of his mouth to his now damp shirt I surmised that he wasn’t really thirsty and we could begin. "Oliver," I said, "let’s see if we can find some eggs!"
Then I waited.
He continued watching the drops of water wetting his shirt. I waited a bit longer not saying anything. After some time and without acknowledging me in anyway, he put the glass down, got down from the chair, walked to the refrigerator and opened it. So much time had passed since my request that I momentarily wondered what he was doing. Then I realized that he was scanning for the egg carton.
“Oliver," I said bending down next to him, "I see a different kind of egg! Look at that!”
He didn’t look at my face and again gave no indication that he heard me but slowly turned instead to look in the same direction and there he spied the plastic egg I had put next to the butter. On closer inspection he saw that inside the egg were two small pieces of candy of his favorite kind which I let him devour immediately.
“Wow! I wonder if we can find more eggs like that? Maybe over there,” I said while looking towards the doors. One door leads to the bathroom and the other to the hall. Oliver took my cue, shut the refrigerator door and went immediately out into the hall. I cleared my throat. He glanced up at me and I looked excitedly into the bathroom. He found the next egg nestled in the empty candle holder next to the bottle of yellow Listerine. In fact, he found a total of 10 eggs yesterday afternoon, scattered all over the house. And as soon as the last one was deposited safely into the little cloth bag that I had given him and Oliver sat happily examining his booty, I dialed the phone to share my joy with Nik: “You’ll never guess what your wonderful, amazing son just did!”
I was pretty hesitant to start the activity. This isn’t the sort of thing at which he normally excels. I couldn’t say, for instance: “I’ve hidden little plastic eggs filled with candy all over the house and now we’re going to find them.” His receptive language just isn’t there yet. And in the past he might have found one egg but not understood that there were more eggs waiting to be found. And until recently he might not have even understood that the other eggs all had candy in them. But this time it all came together and we had ourselves an Easter egg hunt.
Some time ago, probably without even realizing it, I let go of trying to fit Oliver into holidays and events and activities that mark the passage of childhood for other families. I realized that if I wanted to be happy – if Oliver was going to be happy -- I had to fit those things to Oliver if it worked. And mostly it doesn’t work for right now so we skip a lot of things and that is just fine with me. But something about this one little success had me thinking yesterday that just about anything in life is possible. Suddenly I could imagine him on a big green field with a dozen other kids looking for those silly plastic eggs filled with candy I don’t even want him to eat.
If I were a better writer or a better Christian I could probably come up with some seasonal analogy between what Oliver found yesterday and what I found. I'm not sure what that is, honestly. But it was something. We both found something.