A Red Belt, and When

“What’s this one, Finn?”

“Su-chle.”

“This?”

“Ye-wow.”

Circle, yellow.

I’m doing flashcards with Finn because he pulled them out of the closet and suggested playing. I have no need for him to get every answer correct, and he doesn’t.

“Red!”

It’s a red belt and the flashcard says ‘belt’. He is half-correct, or maybe all-correct.

He smiles and we say, “Red! Yes!” We move on to the next card which is a square, and he says ‘squawre’, which is just as correct as saying, ‘red’ when shown a picture of a red belt.

We had his Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting today, and the entire team of us–parents, teachers, aides–sat around a low table while in kiddie chairs discussing evaluative needs and benchmarks. Finn slept in his stroller. I kept him up all morning so that he could sleep during the meeting. It’s funny that we were all in those low and plastic chairs–especially the principal in his full suit and tie–while Finn was sprawled out, comfortably and regally napping. We were hunched around a table and planning, talking in big words about everything, and there was something in the IPE about Finn understanding the ‘whats’ and ‘wheres’, but not exactly the ‘whens’ just yet.

Which is perhaps incorrect. I showed Finn a picture of a plant today; he said <sniff> while bringing a hand to his nose, after which he signed ‘flower.’

39

My therapist asks me again: “Did you turn forty this week, or thirty-nine?” (We are new at this).

“Not that you look forty,” she quickly corrects, but I’m in the habit of always playing with my beard, in a sense pointing out to everyone that my body is now melanocytically deficient and that it sprouts white on the regular.

Of course I look forty, then some. As an exclamation point I’ve already had cataracts surgered.

“Is that a big thing for you, getting near forty?” she continues. I raise an eyebrow her direction.

“Of course it is,” I retort. But I make a joke of it. I say I’ve been forty since I was twenty, and she confounds the whole mathematic by saying she really had problems turning sixty, three sets of twenty. Perhaps it’s because I grew up when I did: I can’t imagine not having been terrified before twenty-five. Forty, already, portends its own particular brand of catastrophe.

There’s ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’, there’s: ‘Is it possible getting to 64?’

‘Only existential at sixty?’ I think to myself. ‘What nuclear crisis was she unconscious through?’

(I kid, though. I very much like my therapist, and she is Cuban: by nature of 1962 she trumps my Reagan-era ill at ease automatically).

This past week, Heimlich had a first chance at using his own patented maneuver to save someone’s life; Heimlich is 96. I think: we choke and laugh at the same time, get scared at getting old, save each other regardless the age we ultimately admit to.

I tell my therapist, “I’m thirty-nine.”

“That’s what I thought,” she says, and we go from there.