We’ve Come a Long Way Since This Baby

Most of posts are of Nate Katz today, the 21, nearing 22, year old who is going to become a college graduate on Saturday. Sure, I reflect back on occasion, but I dwell on the present, both because that’s where we are and, I know this from reader feedback, Nate’s story is an inspirational one to parents of younger hyperlexic/autistic kids who are years away from their own daunting future.

Today I thought I’d provide an excerpt from the Mission of Complex book proposal.

He stands alone at his plastic Little Tykes workshop, screwing screws and turning thick yellow bolts with a blue wrench. Wearing nothing but a diaper, he is surrounded by his grandparents and parents, but he’s alone; he doesn’t say a word.

He tolerates his grandmother, my mother, as she sings to him and gives him a quick tickle down his chest. Always in motion, he runs to the small playroom in front of the house and sits. A tower of puzzles, puzzles that he had quickly solved and then piled high, slides to his feet. As he plays with his Thomas the Tank Engine die cast trains, he speaks intently in a steady stream of gibberish. Then, after frantically pushing the engines back and forth, saying their names out loud as he propelled them, he’s off again, in a mad to and fro frenzy, himself a speeding express on a track that leads to a secret depot in his mind.

“Hee hee hee hee,” he yells in the long molasses drawl he uses when he actually utters sounds. His mother Karen, already four months pregnant with our second child, sits before him and repeatedly calls his name–“Nathan. Nathan”–but he doesn’t respond. I can hear him in the hall as I watch the Cubs, another sad case.

We all have our dreams; we all have our hopes for our children. And we have our worries. How will they grow up, what will they do, will they be happy? I expected that. But I never saw it coming, the awful sinking feeling that came with Nate’s inability to come when his mother called. Or to look me in the eye when I tried to play with him. The simplest things were not so simple after all.  This child was not a child that we expected.

He’s almost two years old and there’s something wrong with Nate, our son.

That’s where we were. I’m crying reading it, though I rarely cried living it. And now we’re here, less than a week before Nate collects his diploma.

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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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One Response to We’ve Come a Long Way Since This Baby

  1. Janeen says:

    I still cry every time I read this. Thank you so much. You will never know how much your blog means to me.

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