it is something else the way a day born in tense darkness, when one lies awake not wanting to wake, can bloom into something bright and rich. 6 hours of sleep seems to be my destined limit, between me going to bed too late and the kids waking who knows when. i brought them downstairs reluctantly after 9. then a 6-year-old girl just back from England with her parents and little brother, appeared and treating pax like her same-aged brother, took charge of play. she comandeered him, placing him in front of her on the peanut-shaped 'niu-niu che' (wiggle cars, roughly translated), and zoomed about. one of his feet dragged. he was ecstatic. toby, on his own niu-niu che, was quickly drawn in. i egged him on, telling him to chase her, go faster, catch up to her!
i said they were taxis. toby tried taking on pax as passenger. toby and carrie (her english name) raced here and there, colliding, veering, swerving.
no, i remember how it happened. carrie started by bringing out a beanbag, which she gave to pax. who threw it in a puddle. she began putting it on his head, which he quickly threw away. soon he was laughing each time the beanbag appeared from behind, and we were laughing. then she actually spoke some english to me for the first time. i had kept using it with her sometimes, figuring she had to be understanding me, in england for 2 years. then toby began grabbing the beanbag from her, and she threw it at him, and he at her, and oh how perfect it was, toby laughing and running and pretty soon, racing the wiggle bike after carrie. grabbing things from other kids is a skill they have been teaching toby at an an, the school for autistic kids he attends half-day five days a week. he literally did not know that this could be a form of communication or play.
this is the second time in 2 or 3 weeks that toby has really played with another child in the yard. i could put it another way: this is maybe the fourth time in 2 and a half years that toby has played with another child here. at one point during their play, maybe when carrie picked up pax for another ride, toby turned to me and said, 'this is a little game!'
then in the afternoon, when we came back from the park, carrie appeared again, and more racing of the niu niu bikes, which roar their solid plastic wheels on the pavement. he was so happy.
i had wondered this morning whether the wiggle bike makers would export to the US. except for that thunderous noise. then a couple of hours later, at the park, i saw a kid rolling by on a niu niu che with soft-rubber-rimmed wheels. purring by. look at that, i said to sara.
i don't know if it was the wiggle bike racing, but when i brought the boys to the photo shop for residence permit photos (once a year), toby was relatively calm. i had been dreading it. last year was awful. he couldn't stand still. the photos show him nearly in tears. luckily the embassy rejected them (the wrong size), and they didn't end up as his passport photo. today he still fidgeted, constantly scratching his head or ear, but at least he was not losing it. pulling toby's wiggle bike across the street in a break in the traffic while pushing pax's stroller with the other hand, i was in a beautiful mood. 'let's go get a scallion pancake,' i said as we negotiated the awful sidewalk, an obstacle course of parked cars, missing paving stones, and odd inclines. toby had begun saying 'wanna eat something?' while in the studio, and even though it is something he says when he wants to avoid something, it is also true that sometimes he is in fact hungry. he just begins shouting it when there is something else he doesn't like.
we made our way home, toby munching the greasy thing in one hand and me feeding pax little bits. the crowded, badly planned streets felt comfortable, woven and interwoven complexly with people and vehicles of all sort, and i was happy, far from the predawn tenseness.