Susan's Blog

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Letting Them Grow Up

Our Pierre tape is really starting to deteriorate. I was watching with Nat, back here on the window seat because he had banished me from his area of the living room, and then I went into the kitchen to tell Ned I wanted another baby. “We should have had a fourth,” I stated.
“Why?” asked Ned.
“Because I love babies,” I answered. And our babies are so cute (were so cute) and I baby our sons a lot, probably too much.
“Yeah,” he said. It was then that I heard the Pierre tape stop and then restart a few times. Nat appeared, about to ask for help. Ned and I came into the livingroom and we both saw the horrible blue screen with the message, “Clean VCR heads…” Oh, no, I thought, we don’t have that cleaner cassette anymore! But Ned, my superhero, knew where it was, and inserted it. Meanwhile Nat was running around all over the place frantically. [[Ned then told me about this NPR story, about how the last company to sell VHS tapes is going to stop manufacturing them. In the story, he said, the reporter asked what people should do with their old VCRs, and the response was, “Donate them to schools. Public schools are still using them.”

If schools are still using them, as well as probably alot of autism families who prefer the familiar old technology, doesn’t that constitute a large enough population to continue manufacturing? Besides, haven’t we learned our lesson from vinyl LPs? Now people collect them, and there has been a resurgence of record players (seen in Best Buy and Restoration Hardware)! And truthfully, don’t we all miss the large album cover, with art you can actually see, and maybe a poster inside, real size? Don’t we all hate the little plastic cases CDs come in, wrapped up as tight as if it were as dangerous as nuclear waste (cellophaned and stickered)?

Sure VHS tapes are clunky and breakdown, but who of us is perfect? There is something so accessible about the VHS tape that you simply slide into the mouth of the VCR. You can just imagine its mechanism grabbing the tape and reading it. Whereas, what the heck is the DVD? It looks like a CD but comes in a bigger, equally impossible case. It has all these directions before it can even play: the infinte loop of a menu; the go-ahead-and-just-play-me; the scene-by-scene; the outtakes. Too much, too much! Which button, which remote?]]

…Anyway, Ned got the tape clean while I told Nat I was so glad that he had come to get us for help. His running settled down as we watched the tape settle into a reasonable straightforward presentation. I wanted to think about how long Nat has been watching this tape, and how that takes me back to the babyhood days. I wanted to kiss him for being so innocent.

But I also had in mind that even though he acts that way, even though this seemed like a babyish choice for a nineteen-year-old, it had a lot of meaning and significance for Nat. And that even though he is adorable and sometimes sounds like he’s talking like a baby, he is a man. And I need to respect that, to let him make his choices and stand back and let him enjoy himself without putting my interpretations, my needs, on him. How to let even Nat grow up, even when he seems so utterly young. He. Is. Not. A. Little. Boy.

This way of thinking is new to me and yet it brings me comfort. It helps me let him go/grow in a good way. It helps me let them each go a little bit. To realize that all of the still-adorable things my sons do makes me fill up with motherlove, but to them it is something else altogether.

And that if I fill up with that motherlove, it is about my feelings, my longings, and may not be relevant to them, to where they are now. (It may not even mean anything, or have to lead to anything…hmm.)


We still own tons of VHS tapes which I prefer because DVDs tend to get scratched and messed up easily in our chaotic universe and some of Jarrett’s faves aren’t available on DVD. The only good thing about DVDs is not having to rewind and the fab invention of the portable player that Santa brought that goes in the truck with us, uses headphones and can even be plugged into an outlet or run on battery power when gatherings are too much or too boring for Jarrett.

— added by cameramom on Monday, December 29, 2008 at 11:29 am

Yeah…I kinda thing that is too bad, that VHS has to go the way of the dinosaur. I resisted when the DVD switch was made.

— added by Kate on Monday, December 29, 2008 at 11:33 pm

I really understand the I wanna have another baby thing. One vasectomy reversal later I had my son (3rd child) at age almost 42. Now he is 4 and I feel like I’m 100! Spent 7 hours in the ER with him at Christmas and then got admitted. 27 hours and no sleep, I’m afraid people were wondering if I was his grandma!

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30, 2008 at 8:08 am

CDs are too fragile for my 14 year old autistic boy-giant. After playing one he likes to eject it and smash his face against the warm disc, loudly inhaling whatever machiney smell it has. Sometimes this sensory “tough love” cracks the disc. Disaster!

— added by Nancy Bea Miller on Tuesday, December 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm

We still have a VCR that Matthew watches as well but it’s more than ten years old and some of the tapes are older still. It’s not going to last.

We got Matthew an iPod nano a few months ago to watch his videos like Ratatouille and Cars. It’s tiny, starts instantly and uses headphones. Only downside is that you have to remember to recharge it. And Apple could use Matthew as a tester — he’s managed to get the nano pretty confused more than a few times. Fortunately, we learned how to reset it quickly.

— added by Bob on Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 1:16 am

My son Matthew has also been unable to start DVD’s by himself. When our old VCR finally stopped working instead of trying to find another one or buy a combo I gave up and sold all our VHS tapes in a yard sale. So, if I put the disc in the player (such as Polar Express) he just keeps hitting the play button on the remote until the movie starts. Like everything in his life, he slowly learns the concept but any change for him is so hard.

— added by Sharon L. on Friday, January 2, 2009 at 10:37 am

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