Tag Archives: zombie apocalypse

What Becomes of Six and a Half Pounds

N 2121 years ago I held this guy in my arms for the first time and was paralyzed by the thought of how much my life would change, having no idea that it would change even more than I had thought it could. This guy, who was 6 ½ pounds, would set my life on an uncharted course and lead me to a place completely different from where I thought I would go, from where I had planned to go. (Where was that? Oh, yeah. An editing job in New York.) My career evolved into something I would have never considered, and I couldn’t feel more fulfilled.

Today marks 21 years of this guy leaving his mark on the world, on me, on our family. 21 years of trying to figure him out, wondering what would happen next, what I needed to do. 21 years of keeping up with him – and trying to keep my sanity. 21 years of wanting to “give him back to the circus” (as my grandmother would say). And 21 years of loving him.

Last year he turned 20 (I know that probably didn’t need to be pointed out, but stay with me), and the whole two-decade milestone was cool, but something’s different about 21. For many parents of kids with special needs, it’s when their kids no longer attend a public school transition program. (Nigel refused to attend high school longer than his peers, but when you’re voted by your senior class as Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, high school’s not really on your radar.) Anyway (thanks for staying with me), turning 21 is not always about drinking (because when you have autism, epilepsy, and bipolar – and take meds to treat them – any amount of drinking is ill-advised, with emphasis on ill).

But turning 21 is about adulthood. For the last five years I’ve written on my websites about Nigel’s “transition to adulthood.” And – my God – we’re here. This is what adulthood looks like for my son. Yes, he will continue to grow and evolve as everyone, regardless of abilities or disorders, does. But for right now, I look at this young man who has come into his own, I look at the hurdles he has faced, the mountains, and what he still contends with every day to navigate this world, and I marvel at him. I marvel at his tenacity, evident in infancy, his adventurous spirit, his creativity, his insightful musings and comments, his wit (have you read the Nigelisms?), and his steadfastness as he envisions his dream of having a career in filmmaking.

Twenty-one. I went out to dinner at Red Lobster with my dad and my grandma. I moved to a different state (for the third time). I changed my college major (also, I believe, for the third time). That was 21 for me. For Nigel: dinner at a gourmet burger joint with his family. Later in the year, maybe getting his GED. Maybe working at Home Depot and starting to save for film school. Adulthood on his own terms. Making his way in a world from which he constantly needed relief, but in which he always desperately wanted to be.

Happy 21st Birthday, Nigel. It’s all you.

Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

zombie2bThere are plenty of things for which I am proud of my son. But this, by far, is the coolest.

A few days ago Nigel came home with his yearbook, and I began flipping through it, gawking at all the kids I had watched grow up with him during our eleven years in this district. They are adults now, graduating this weekend (more on that next week). Then I got to the superlatives page for the senior class – Most Likely to Succeed, Best Smile, Most Artistic, Most Athletic. There were twenty categories, each listing the boy and girl who had won. And there on the right-hand side was listed a category called “Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse,” and Nigel and a girl who I remember from his second grade class were pictured.

Yeah. That’s my boy.

zombie4bWho better than someone who faces the challenges of autism every day of his life? Who better than one who stares down the demons of epilepsy and battles the reality of bipolar? Who better than someone who has dealt with rampant bullying? Who better than one who powered through years of sensory bombardment and came up with a filtering system so that he could ride his bike on a noisy highway? So that he could be in a loud, echoing gym with his peers? Or even just walk down the hallway between classes like everyone else?

Then again, he’s always been kind of a badass.

There is a story that in his early grade school years, some boy had been teasing him and Nigel held him by the shoulders, swung him around, and shoved him away. On the third day of school in seventh grade, two boys ganged up on him. When he verbally tried to defend himself, one of them socked him in the face. The fight was broken up before Nigel could retaliate, but lots of kids saw him take that punch, and he didn’t back down. In high school he rode his bike to school, by choice, nearly every day for four years. For someone like him, that took courage and fortitude. During what was probably a manic episode, at lunch time he would climb trees and fences and rode his bike in front of the school on the sidewalk, forcing people to jump out of the way. Not cool, and of course that behavior was reprimanded, but still, it was the kind you might expect from one most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Not only that, he’s conveniently memorized all of the original Evil Dead movies. So we’re set. It’s our variation of “most likely to succeed,” and it rocks. I am the proud mother of someone most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse. It’s good to have the bases covered.

zombie6*image credit: Cierra Hoover