They were walking on the sidewalk as I neared my driveway, a mom and her little boy. He looked to be five or six years old. I pulled in to park and got out of the car. The little boy was running toward me, a tablet in his hand, his mother walking a few feet behind.
Uh oh, I thought. What are they selling? Can I pretend I don’t see them? Too late: the boy was just a few feet away. He was fast. I said a tentative hi, and he paused, lifted his tablet in a sort of salute, and rushed past me into my back yard.
“I’m sorry,” said the mom. “My son is autistic. We live in the house on the hill, across the street.” I recognized her expression: apologetic, worried, tired. Maybe she was wondering if I was going to be upset, ask why she couldn’t control her kid, ask her to get out of my yard… Or would I say something well-intentioned but insulting?
“That’s cool. My son is autistic, too,” I said. We talked for a while until her son was ready to leave, trading war stories, talking about school, sports, and music. She relaxed, but only a bit, her eyes frequently darting to her son, making sure he didn’t need her help or intervention. It was like seeing a video of myself from 12 years ago. I wish I’d known other moms in my situation, especially ones further down the road with their kids.
After a while her son came back, and the two of them continued on their zigzagging way.