Of Frogs and Family


December 25, 2020 by whirlyjoy

Mimi’s best friend since middle school lives two miles and several hundred feet of elevation away, up over the steep hill that is the spine of our peninsular neighborhood on Puget Sound. Their friendship held strong even when (or maybe because) they attended different high schools. Through those teenage years, Mimi spent lots of nights at KitKat’s house. There she could find relief from our family craziness by settling into the less threatening dysfunctions of another family. Other times KitKat bunked at our place, presumably for similar reasons. The girls slept in our open-plan living room on these nights. I loved seeing them under their piles of blankets when I came down for coffee in the morning. Mimi’s early teen secretiveness and scowls felt less threatening when I could catch a glimpse of her strong friendships in the making. They still hang out together daily in Animal Minecraft Crossing Island Twitchy worlds, even attending college in different time zones and with the socially distanced holidays.

Aida and her frogs all like to view the world from novel angles.

This year it’s KitKat who found The Best Christmas Gift Ever for Aida. It’s a challenge that many years has no winner at all, Aida’s attitude towards gifts being highly unpredictable, like so much else about her. Some memorable past failures include the Lite-Brite set, a huge box of Magna-Tiles, a deluxe wooden bead kit. I chose all of these for their potential to appeal to her love of patterning and visual stimulation. All were ignored, as she once again dumped her box of lego onto the floor to build simple towers in alternating color strips. The set of three rubber frogs I tucked in her stocking almost as an afterthought one year fared better, becoming a favorite until long after their painted googly eyes rubbed off. But no past gift compares to the yellow peanut M&M Santa guy that KitKat found while antiquing with her grandma, judging by Aida’s look of love.

Where have you been all my life?

I sent this image to some of my own greater family, two mamas with deeply neurodiverse young adults of their own. I knew they’d understand and appreciate all the subtext to these images. Didn’t Cece have similar feeling for the Quaker Oats man? one of them texted, about the other’s daughter. That’s right, the Quaker Oats man and the SunMaid Raisin lady were longtime crushes! Friendly commercial faces with immutable smiles and big, uncomplicated eyes, faces that don’t require any complex interpretation of the feelings and expectations behind them… no wonder our loved ones with autism crush on them.

To my real-world friends and family, all of you who lean into our complexity and enrich our lives immeasurably – thank you! Your curiosity and love help us stay rooted in our own. May you keep looking to the light even in the darkest seasons, and find quirky crushes and crazy blessings in the coming year.

2 thoughts on “Of Frogs and Family

  1. Diane Martin Rudnick says:

    I love this story!! And isn’t Aida a beautiful young woman! What a friend both girls have in KitKat!! Kai loves all Sesame Street, T Rex, zebras…..I guess popular culture would be Dora the Explorer, with her big brown eyes…and backpack, of course….And yes, would reach for the M and Ms bags of all the dancers in their bright primary colors…Here’s to a very happy new year ahead, for all of our neurodiverse loved family members!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aunt Kathy says:

    Thanks for the wonderful story Joy. And what a beautiful photo of Audrey. Such a look of love and serenity!

    Liked by 1 person

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