One of the things Kirk and I talked about doing before we started this little blog was using this as a way to share both of our perspectives. Admittedly, we’ve overlapped on fewer topics than I expected us to. But after Kirk's post at the beginning of this week, I thought this was a great opportunity to tell you about Nolan as I know him.
Obviously Kirk and I both know the same kid. It’s not that Nolan is a different kid with Kirk than he is with me. Sure, there are some definite behavior differences—but I’d challenge you to find any family where the kids don’t behave differently alone with dad than they do alone with mom… But being different people, I think Kirk and I tend to see different parts of Nolan—or maybe those are just the parts that stand out more to each of us.
So who is Nolan? If you asked me, I’d say he’s a normal teenager who is anything but typical.
Heck like any teenage boy, he loves to eat almost anything. Especially if it’s spicy or salty. Or sour. If it’s got a big bold flavor, chances are good Nolan will love it. Then again, he’s kind of got a big bold flavor of his own.
I mean, obviously he doesn’t communicate in all of the same ways that his neurotypical peers might. But his body language holds nothing back with me. If I’m cramping his style and an eye roll isn’t enough to get my attention, he’ll yell and nudge me away from him. If I ask him to interrupt whatever he's doing to help with a chore, he will complain just as much as any typical teen. Like any kid his age, he can be as salty as the French fries he so loves to eat.
But I’ve never known a kid who works as hard as Nolan. Heck, I’ve known very few adults who work as hard as he does. And none of that work is being aimed at schoolwork or a career but just on learning to get by in a world that wasn’t made for him.
Mostly, though, Nolan is a flirt. Seriously watch out for yourselves, ladies. He knows eye contact is powerful, and he will use it to suck you in. And even if he didn’t start the interaction by flirting, he’s got a personality that’s just magnetic. You can’t ignore him when he’s in a room with you, and he can engage just about anyone. I’m pretty sure he gets that from Grandpa Doug.
And seriously, this kid can be silly. If he gets the giggles, everyone in the house will be giggling whether they want to or not.
He loves spending time outdoors… You might be amazed at how calm he gets when we’re out enjoying a hike in one of our amazing state parks or other local trails. Calm isn’t often a word I would use to describe Nolan, so it always amazes me to see him transformed by being surrounded by nature. Heck, even if it’s just some time hanging out in the back yard or walking to the tennis courts with Kirk, outside is definitely one of Nolan’s favorite places to be.
I do see a lot of Kirk in Nolan, too. He loves to know what the plan is and have some structure to his day. I also find him straightening and picking up things like, “THIS IS JUST NOT RIGHT.” That’s a total Kirk move right there. Granted, he overlooks certain things that I would consider a mess (in exactly the same way I see Kirk do), but there are little quirky things that have to be just right. Is this sounding familiar Kirk?
But I can tell he’s definitely my kid too. I mean, he definitely got my physique and not Kirk’s. Plus, this kid loves to just snuggle down in his bed (or on the couch) and get comfy—he never passes up comfy. Plus he loves a good road trip just like me (which is very convenient for the days Kirk has a lot of work to do from home).
Nolan is a sweet and affectionate guy, too. Maybe that’s why his flirting is so effective. But even on the days where he wants his space, if you ask him for a hug he’ll at least offer you a forehead to kiss. And there are other days where he’ll just grab my hand because he wants to hold it. Or he’ll ask for tickles on his arms or offer big hugs. Still other times, he’ll surprise me by just putting an arm around me and looking straight into my eyes. It’s no wonder he’s such a ladies’ man.
But overall, he’s my baby. He’ll always be my only child, and I’ll always be his mom. I’m trying my best to not coddle him and acknowledge that he’s growing and learning and maturing, but I don’t think that’s easy for any mom. He’s got skills and knowledge that never even occur to me that he would have picked up because somewhere in my head he’s still a toddler. And obviously, the kid who’s nearly my height is no longer a toddler.
He’s so much more than we give him credit for. He’s smarter and more capable than any of us (myself included) realize. And just because he can’t speak doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand the rest of us or what is happening around him.
So I guess we could say he’s complicated. And if you ask me, he’s perfect.