I had to fill out a lil survey thing for Ben the other day and i asked him what his favorite subject was in school. He told me “Art”
for today’s flashback, an homage to my lil artist and how his brain works…
Scribbles (november 9, 2010)
I had a little moment today. Thought I would share.
Because we lack a magnetic fridge, I post Ben’s schoolwork on the pantry door. Right now it’s covered with work from last year, summer school, and a few items from this year. Today as I was making some tea, (Sadly NOT for a toddy) I turned and looked at one of his pieces from summer school. Its entitled Self Portrait.
Now, any 3 year old would have made a picture just like it. It’s a multitude of scribbled lines in multiple colors with no shape or reason. At the time he had no concept of the work “draw”–he’s just starting to pick it up now–and no idea whatsoever of “Self”. The ability to “draw” comes with time–typical or no. And as for the concept of self–well, he’ll get it one day. (hell, I’ve met some 30 somethings drinking cheap beer who barely had a grasp of it…) But it struck me this morning how this self portrait was a bit more true to life than imagined.
Lemme tell a story about the first time I saw a Van Gogh. (and don’t worry, this is not a preface to saying my son is an artistic genius) My mother and I were at the Getty, and we walked into a gallery that held one of Van Gogh’s iris paintings. Now, I’ll admit I’ve never been a big fan, but when I came face to face with this painting, I burst into tears. Literally. I am not shitting you. Tears streaming down my face. A blubbering idiot over a picture of flowers. Because in that moment–I got it. I understood his madness, his despair, his intensity. When you come into the presence (and I think you have to be right there, to see the color, the brushstrokes–a book just doesn’t cut it) of a Van Gogh, you suddenly see the world as he saw it–and it is so intense and maddening that, for me at least, it was too much. I have never forgotten that experience. At that moment, I understood all those damn art classes I had to take for my general ed requirements.
And today, as I stood and looked at this page, I felt it again. Ben experiences so much at once–his senses on overload, his mind racing from one thing to the next. All of it a blur sometimes, incomprehensible most of the time, a multitude of thoughts and emotions of which he cannot make sense. As much as this is the scribbles of a 3 year old who was told to draw himself–words he didn’t really understand at the time–he did create a self portrait. This IS my little man–in all it’s color and beauty, as well as its frenetic energy.
It was a fitting reminder to me today as we fight through this latest round of whining/growing/detox/general malaise that is being a child with Autism. I am finding that behavior can be cyclical. He can have weeks of fantastic behavior, and then a week of being demon spawn. Lately it feels like we’ve been getting the grand tour from Dante himself, but I know it won’t last. (at least I HOPE it won’t last) He’s had a rough couple of days, having given up gluten, probably going through withdrawals or he may possibly have a cold, or he’s hitting a growth spurt, or the time change has messed him up, or he ate raisins. As you can see, the reasons can be like his actions and subsequently, like this drawing.
I think when I start to remove things here in order to put more up, I’ll keep this one around. As a reminder to me of what it’s like to see the world through someone else’s vision–whether they realized they were showing it to you or not.