"Look At Me"

"Look At Me"
monotype and screenprint

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Cowboy

We went to a wedding this weekend.  Not just any wedding, but my sister-in-law's.  Some parts of it were good and some parts of it were not so good; after all, I had a 6 year old and an 8 year old with me and sitting through a wedding ceremony was no cup of tea.  Both of them were bored and antsy.

However, I have to tell you about something that happened at the wedding.  Something that I thought was incredible.

There were two horse-drawn carriages to take people from the wedding to the wedding reception.  Derek was fascinated by them.  Every time one of them came around the corner he would gasp and say, "Der dey are!" Then he would run as fast as his little legs would carry him up to the carriage and try to jump in.  I had to be on my toes and grab his arm so he wouldn't get run over.  He was that excited.

The carriages were driven by real, live "Cowboys"-- or at least that is what Derek called them.  And they were nice enough to let Derek have several rides before the wedding even took place.

Halfway through the wedding ceremony, Derek decided he had had enough of the wedding and he wanted to go back to the horses.  He ran over to talk to the Cowboy.  He plopped himself into the seat next to him and started chatting away.  When the Cowboy asked him what his name was, he replied, "Peter Parker."  So I explained his obsession with Spiderman. Then Derek saw a number 4 on the side of the house (it's the Haythorn Ranch logo).  So he started counting things.  He discovered that there were 4 horses total and started flapping his hands.  The Cowboy told Derek about the horses.  He also let Derek pick up the reins and didn't even mind that Derek tried to make the horses go forward.

After a while, the Cowboy turned to me and said, "He doesn't miss a thing, does he?  He's autistic, right?"

Surprised, I said yes.  I mean, I wasn't surprised that he knew there was something different about Derek, that's pretty obvious.  But I usually volunteer the information.  Most people don't have the guts to ask.  It's kind of like asking someone if they are pregnant--what if you are wrong and insult someone by accident?

He then told me about a kid he knew growing up, who was also autistic, and reminded him of Derek.

The Cowboy asked Derek lots of questions and Derek answered the way Derek does--sometimes with a single word, and sometimes with a response that had nothing to do with the question.  (He asked how old Derek was and Derek told him "Spiderman.") Sometimes Derek didn't answer at all.  But the Cowboy didn't care. The Cowboy seemed to know exactly how to talk to Derek and what to say. 

I watched the conversation take place with tears in my eyes.

Too often I run into people that look at my son as if he is a bug that needs to be squashed.  It was wonderful to meet a man that wanted to talk to Derek.

Thank you, Cowboy, for making a little boy's day.  He is still talking about you four days later.