On & Off

Lights on, lights off. Search out any and every button or switch. Repeat twenty times.

F has always had a fascination with light. As soon as his tiny body could stand, he was reaching for light switches.

While most toddlers were stacking blocks and chasing friends around, F was hiding in a dark room with a flashlight.

On and off,

on and off.

As he grew, this expanded to calculators, computers, watches, tablets, phones. Despite this expansion, there has always been a unique magic about the simple light switch to him.

There’s frustration in simple outings as he seeks out every button or switch that he can. Strangers are less forgiving as his frame grows taller. However, there’s beauty in this simplicity. Warmth and familiarity when he seeks out his original toddlerhood wonder.

I think about ten, twenty years from now. Will he watch fireworks with the same awe? Will he sneak his flashlight off and on while camping? Will this urge to understand cause and effect spiral into a full career?

There’s so much unknown.

F has the kind of autism where his brain fixates on tiny details that matter to him, and blocks out the big ones. He instantly notices when I’ve hung something new on the fridge yet cannot find his shoes in an empty room. He identifies photos of foreign flags at a whim yet has never intentionally said goodbye to someone leaving our house.

At only five years and ten months old, he is filled to the brim with curiosity and potential, yet he resorts to the simplicity of toggling a light switch on and off,

on and off.

Maybe we should push him to use his fascinating mind for more. Or maybe we should let him bask in the magic, while his problems are small, in our protective bubble. It may mean that I’ll constantly be missing flashlights from their places, and I may find squiggly hand drawn light switches in places they shouldn’t be.

But this boy emanates light himself.

It’s only fitting that we let him control the switch on and off,

on and off.

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