Going with the Flow

Often I’m asked what is the most important thing we’ve learned in raising Nate. It’s this: go with the flow.

I was never the kind of person who let important things slide, but in raising a hyperlexic child, there’s only so much you can get worked up over. Most things become unimportant.

When we moved to Cooperstown, one of the benefits was that our kids could walk right down Delaware St., which borders our backyard, and be five minutes from school. At first we would walk all three together, drop Robbie and Joey off at the elementary school and watch nervously as Nate made his way down the path that linked the lower school to the high school. He made it.

Sometimes he would ride his bike, an Orange Crate Schwinn with its shiny, glittery banana seat. With each year, he would bargain with us.

“I’ll ride my bike until November 1,” he said at the start of ninth grade.

“I’ll ride my bike until October 1,” he said at the start of tenth grade.

I wanted him to walk or ride to school, but it wasn’t worth the struggle. There was plenty to fight about when he got home, so for his last few years of high school we drove him and picked him up.

Nate thrives on predictable schedules, so what do you do when he decides, quite abruptly, that everything has changed? For years he dragged me to every lousy kids movie. Ever seen Baby Geniuses? Don’t.

Nate’s obsession with the Simpsons is worthy of its own blog entry, but he would constantly ask if there was ever going to be a Simpsons movie. Every person he met was asked the question and, over time, we were all conditioned to look for said film. When it was slated for release in 2007, Nate had, as he said, “taken a hiatus” from movies. Each time someone asked, knowing that he would be excited about Homer and the gang on the big screen, they were met with a shockingly negative response. What happened?

I think An Inconvenient Truth is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, not because of content, but because it is boring as hell. For Nate, it ended up being the last movie he saw, giving up going to the theater after a family outing in 2006. Why? First we thought it was because his new braces precluded the popcorn part of his movie ritual. When his orthodontist said he could continue his munching habit, and asked if he could break the good news to Nate, he was crushed that Nate still wouldn’t go to the movies.

We still don’t know why he turned. He watches movies with us on DVD and is always scouring the TV guides for old movies on television. Sure, we were saddened, deeply, that he wouldn’t go see The Simpsons Movie with us. It was a hollow experience to go without him. (He hasn’t seen it to this day).

But, no matter how depressed Nate’s decision made us, we weren’t going to argue with him, or drag him with us because we really wanted him to go with us.  There were other things to tackle that were much more important.

Take my advice. Go with the flow.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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2 Responses to Going with the Flow

  1. Pingback: Two Years Since | Mission of Complex: Our Journey Through Hyperlexia

  2. gr82chat says:

    Too true. Typical parenting goes out the window when you learn to negotiate the best possible outcome for a kid with autism/hyperlexia.

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