Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Autism diaries XXX: "You need to think about the future"

The temptations of short-term pleasure still often prevail. So, when J's tutor accidentally leaves her gmail account open, he can't stop himself from seizing the moment, "impersonating" her, emailing several of her relatives to tell them that "my house burned down," and elaborating the fictional details with her brother over g-chat.

But, miracle of miracles, he's also becoming aware of the virtues of delayed gratification. Lately, for example, he's been suspending his urge to charge through bottlenecks of trolley and train commuters to land the best seat available on the earliest train possible, and calling his good behavior to my attention, all because he wants me to start letting him travel to school on his own, with all the perks that that will bring him (a cell phone and not having to read The Story of the World with Mommy on the way to school).

Just this weekend, having read about the Battle of Marathon two days earlier (in The Story of the World with Mommy on the way to school), he observes, while walking by the Philadelphia Marathon on his way with me to Chinatown, that the winners of these races, running as fast as they can bear to, are "thinking about the future," and that if he ever wants to win a race he needs to do the same. I point out that this also applies to chess tournaments, where, even though he's doing better and better (earning enough points for a bronze metal in the city-wide public school tournament the day before), he's still tempted to open with the checkmate-in-four-moves gambit that no one at chess tournaments falls for and that ends up compromising his game.

At a shopping gallery a few blocks closer to Chinatown, after filming some of the ceiling fans he doesn't yet have on tape, he checks out the latest price of Wiis and discovers that he now can afford one. All those years of pining after, and jokingly pleading for a Wii ("Buy me a Wii or I'll call 911") and saving up money from yard work and snow shoveling (last year was particularly lucrative) have finally reached their happy conclusion.

He's got his Wii, his Mii, and his printout of "WII RULES!" ("Before you play: Wash your hands, Make sure you have no drink, Make sure you have permission; When you play: Do not eat, Make sure the control is away from everything, Wear the strap on the control, Share with other people; After you play: Make sure the CD is where I can find, Make sure the remote is where I can find, Make sure the console is off"), in which he wants all of us to think about the future--and, of course, his future in particular.

(We've reminded him, however, that Mii is not master of the Wii-universe: we still own the TV screen and control its power supply).

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