Susan's Blog

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Unexpected Gifts

This Chanukah brought new meaning to my phrase, “unexpected gifts:” pillows. Tonight, Ned surprised me with the gift of a fantastic new pillow. This is not as shallow or stupid as you are beginning to think. At my age, you cannot take a good night’s sleep for granted, and lately, sleep has been eluding me. But last time I went to my parents’ house, I slept on the most marvelous pillow (the same brand that Ned just bought me) and I had no aches, no stuffy nose, and possibly fewer face wrinkles when I woke up.

It is very easy to buy me gifts, consumer that I am. It is very difficult to buy Nat gifts, however, because we don’t really know what he likes, other than candy and Disney videos, and he has all of them. To be more accurate, we do know what he likes (pacing, talking to himself, a lot of spices on his food) but these things are difficult to put into a box.

Nat likes pillows; likes pillows as only a sixteen-year-old hormonally charged boy can like something. Recently Ned took Nat on a little jaunt to Walgreen’s for a few things, like wrapping paper and candles for the menorah. While in Walgreen’s, Ned noticed Nat fingering the small square pillows that lay piled in a bin near the cash registers. These pillows were neon bright and very squooshy and smooth. Nat caressed the pillows, smiling. Ned asked him, “Do you like the pillow?” And Nat answered immediately, “No like the pillow!” As if he had been caught with a Playboy magazine.

A few days later, as we looked at the tiny pile of presents for Nat, compared to the mountainous ones of his brothers, Ned and I had a desperate and bizarre conversation (“Should we get him a pillow?”) It seemed a little unsavory, somehow, almost like getting your kid an inflatable doll. But maybe it is easier to understand our feelings if you think about our autistic teenage son who has almost no friends, and certainly has never had a girlfriend. Nat, God bless him, has not yet put it all together, the feelings in his body and how they could possibly relate to other people. I guess I have to hope he never does, although that is sad, too.

But to be honest, we did not feel sad when we hit upon this pillow gift idea. We felt like geniuses.

At Ned’s suggestion, I bought Nat the green pillow and wrapped it up.

That night, Nat saw the big package and zeroed in on it immediately. He touched it, and his fingers guessed at its contents. He tore the wrapping paper off with a gusto I had never seen in him. His eyes lit up at the sight of the bright green, soft square. He grabbed it and ran upstairs to his bedroom.

I think if he could have, he would have said something like, “Don’t wait up for us, Mom and Dad!”



Not commenting on the pillow gift blog entry, but on your appearance on MSNBC. Let me say that you were lovely… 🙂

But better than your appearance, your words were lovely. Thank you.

— added by Camille on Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 11:02 pm

Thank you for a great laugh. Our autistic son is only 6, so we are awhile off from needing to consider any sort of “props” for him, but I appreciate your attitude in seeing that there really is no harm in giving Nat “the gift that keeps on giving”. Question, are the pillows washable or dry clean only??!!
Sam’s mom

— added by Sam's mom on Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 11:09 pm

Hi Camille, thank you.
Hi Sam’s Mom,
The pillows are going to be washable, despite the lack of a tag, and I’ll just have to hope for the best! Luckily, Walgreen’s has a ton of them.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 7:16 am


You are AWESOME. I did laugh out loud, but ya know what I think is the best part of this whole entry? That you and Ned are so comfortable with this particular aspect of (dare I say it?) ‘normal’ teenage development in Nat.

Keep up the good work.


— added by Petra on Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 4:21 pm


Thanks for bringing up this topic. Others have been mentioning it and asked about it on blogs. I have been meaning to write a blog post on my blog. My son is lower functioning than Nat so he is not as private about it. The first time I saw him do the “wiggle” I was thoroughly confused though it was obvious what it was.

It seems important that we, parents of older kids, need to be more open about this situation so that parents of younger ones are prepared more than we were. Thanks for doing that here.

— added by Peggy Lou Morgan on Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 5:02 pm

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