December 21, 2007 by Marj Hatzell
OCD-like behavior is part-and-parcel of Autism. Our Bugaboo can have some fairly interesting obsessions. He likes to carry around bags of dried pasta and steals forks and hides them in the cushions of the couch. He takes my collectible elephants from their place of awe and splendor and sits behind pillows, stroking their trunk and their feet (he also tries to ride them). The past three years, when we put up the Christmas tree, he takes various ornaments from the tree and hides behind the tree (in an attempt to remain unseen). This year he is particularly smitten with a bicycle ornament, which he takes from the tree and tries to ride down the hall way. For some reason this has not workedbut that doesn’t stop him from trying. HE WILL RIDE THAT BIKE.
Bugaboo was in his usual I’ve-just-arrived-from-school-and-need-a-moment-to-myself-so-don’t-come-near-me-spot (his room) and was a tad too quiet. Since Bug Boy was feverish and delusional (“It’s snowing! LOOK!” and the sky was blue and clear with nary a cloud) I let him do his own thing. As long as the upstairs bedroom doors are closed and locked he can play in his room without supervision. His room is as Bugaboo-proof as we can get it. It’s the one safe place in the house that he really does not have restrictions or limitations. But something told me, “Hey Mom! Come check on me! I’m getting into something and you are gonna be REALLY upset!” Up the stairs I went…
I found Bugaboo sitting on the floor of his room, stroking the angel from the top of our Christmas tree. The ceramic angel. The one that has adorned our tree each year from the moment we were engaged and had our first Charlie-Brown-tree in our first humble apartment (Yeah, we lived in sin. Shaddup. ). My mother purchased it for us and I am nearly sure that it is from Avon, but it is still sentimental to me, even if it isn’t the fanciest. Somehow Bugaboo managed to get the angel from the top of the tree and I am not exactly sure how he did it. There are currently two scenarios playing in my head. In the first one, Bugaboo climbed the (SUPERFAKE) tree like a ladder and grabbed it. In the second scenario, Bugaboo was attempting to climb the tree to reach another tempting ornament (Like the chili peppers. Don’t ask) and the tree swayed under his forty pounds and the angel came a-tumblin’ down. Bugaboo probably took one look at her cherubic, but decidedly Scandinavian-looking, face and claimed her as his own. Even with the fragile net-like wings that ran like a knee-high stocking and needed to be fixed. Even with chip on the back of her head. Even with the thirteen Christmases of dust that I cannot clean off. This angel was a treasure to him. Perfect, even.
Bugaboo does not seem to grasp much about holidays and has no real concept of time. He does not seem to notice much about gatherings and traditions. He certainly gets nothing from church and I cannot even enroll him for Sunday School, since he is not quite to the point where I can get him to interact there for a full hour. There is something about this angel that speaks to him. I do not know if my heart should be warmed at the sweet thought of him loving this angel or saddened at the thought that he may never know the Christmas Story. Either way, it’s sweet to watch.
This morning he was at it again. We found him sitting in the dark, illuminated only by the tri-colored chili pepper tree lights (Uh. Don’t ask again. Bug Boy. ‘Nuff said.), stroking the angel and kissing her. I watched him for a moment sensing great peace. Bugaboo has learned probably the most important lessons of Christmas. Peace and Joy. He may not be able to speak and he may not get the gift-giving and he may not get excited about Santa coming (which is fine by me!) but he has learned Peace and Joy. He is always at peace and his heart is always full of joy.
That, my friends, is what I wish for you this week. No matter where you are, where you come from and what you celebrate, I wish you the Peace and Joy that I have been given by this remarkable little boy.