Neurokin: a word used to describe someone who is the same neurotype as you
Lately, Rose has been saying things that reveal her loneliness and desire to have friends. This has been a tough year on so many levels. As we’ve weathered the pandemic, our already minimal social plans fell away one by one as Rose’s anxiety and overwhelm increased. The already tricky-to-navigate social world became too challenging with the additional necessary requirements of wearing a face mask, being outside (in the unpredictable Michigan weather), and maintaining social distance. For a time, and in certain ways, this came as a relief. I am a fan of simplifying life wherever possible, but after a while, the loneliness and cabin fever set in hard for my children.
Yesterday morning, Casey texted that they were heading to a park near my house with both boys in tow. Was there a chance we could meet?, she bravely wondered. Rose and Cooper had met before, but only in brief co-orbiting encounters that lasted less than ten minutes. Rose appeared at my side the moment I was reading Casey’s text and asked what it was about. Casually, I said that Casey and Cooper and William would be at the park and she wondered whether we might want to meet up. Rose quickly and emphatically said she did and offered to begin packing snacks while I got myself ready. As we discussed snacks further, we thought it would be nice to have something to share, and Rose felt that bringing popsicles on such a hot day would be a big hit. We had several kinds of popsicles, but they were not sufficient. Desperate as I was to help her have a successful outing, I ran to the grocery store before my husband left for work to pick up two additional flavors of popsicles that would adequately serve as a friendship-offering.
Casey had already texted me to ask if it would be OK for Cooper to give Rose a zip lock bag of potato chips, one of the few foods he was currently eating, as a symbol of his desire to connect.
Before I hopped in the shower, I said casually,
“You know, Rose, Cooper’s brain works like yours does! I mean, it’s not the same, because everyone’s brain is unique, but his is more like yours than others’...”
“I know!” she said, happily nodding her head. “He’s PDA too!”
Throughout the running around and getting ready, Casey and I texted several more times:
“Add fifteen minutes”
“Add another fifteen!”
Although I didn’t know it at the time, Casey was delayed because she was also making a quick stop at the CVS to pick out the specific kind of potato chip Cooper planned on sharing with Rose.
At last we arrived at the park and there we were all together. We brought Sati along with us, knowing that Rose and Cooper share a love of dogs. Sweet William, however, is terrified of dogs, and so our initial time together was a juggling act as always: the puppy who wanted to chase the ball, the melting popsicles, the dog-loving and dog-fearing children as they moved about, the skills to show off on the monkey bars, flying off of high-moving swings, crashing satisfactorily hard in the wood chips, the other children at the park to give space to... but then, there in the midst of it all, spinning round and round on the merry-go-round staring at each other intently, focused as if on stable ground, were Rose and Cooper, talking about dragons and unicorns and cake. Never was there a more beautiful moment in the history of the world.
They continued to roam around together, taking care of Sati, climbing on the structure, talking about the things they liked. Neither wanted to part when it was time for them to take William home for his nap.
But their time together had a deeply nourishing effect. Both Rose and Cooper seemed to be beholding the other with such interest, recognition and kinship. Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe they were simply two six-year-olds who were happy to be together. Casey and I spent the whole morning trying to be “chill” so as not to project our desires onto our children, while we were internally doing backflips and feeling major heart-swells and knocking on all the wood around us.
After the outing, Rose and Cooper both recuperated from the social interactions by returning to their respective homes and relaxing with their television shows. But for the rest of the day, Rose seemed content in a way I haven’t seen in a long time.
The world can be an awfully big, scary place. But how that changes when you find someone who understands you and can meet you where you are standing, calm and still while it all spins by in a blur around you.