The product of 3 sets of grandparents without any other grandchildren is that my house is overflowing with toys. I have so many toys that I frequently round some up and take them down to the Salvation Army and donate them rather than have a Garage Sale, something I’d rather never experience ever. I just can’t haggle with someone over a 50 cent coffee mug and still maintain my already-tenuous grasp on sanity.

But Alex has chosen, out of the piles of colorful plastic toys, this small wooden car.


That he would find this car and choose it above all other toys touches me.

This car is a time-capsule.

I’ve made mention before that Ben had chosen my mother as His Person, which (thank you Internet) you all told me is a pretty common thing for autistic kids to do. You have no idea how much that relieved me to know that it wasn’t just my son picking up on my inherent Asshole-ness.

But I probably didn’t tell you that Ben chose another person as His Person. That person, of course, was The Daver.

We met Dave in the winter of 2003-2004 and Ben, my normally silent, distant child was immediately captivated by him. They hadn’t met until I took Ben to the airport to pick Dave up from wherever he was returning from, but once I had, it was like the heavens had opened up for that child. And The Daver too.

The entire ride back home to St. Charles (sans The Daver), Ben strung together one of only a few sentences he had in the most forlorn voice I’d heard, “Oh, bye Dave.” He didn’t say “Mommy” but he immediately learned “Dave.”

Several months after that, Dave and I packed Ben up in the car and we took a road trip up nort’ dere hey to northern Wisconsin to visit a friend of his. Ben fell in love with a marble contraption thingy made by the Amish who live up there and on the way home, Dave insisted that we stop and get Ben one.

Ben was asleep in the car, so he and I stayed outside while Dave went into the Amish store and awhile later he emerged triumphant, the marble contraption thingy in his hand. After he packed it into the trunk to be given to Ben after he awoke, he got into the driver’s seat of my car and opened up his hand to me.

There, in the palm of his hand was this wooden car.

Even knowing that the child he’s always thought of as his son wouldn’t play crash-bang-boom Drive The Car Off The Couch pow-zap with it like a normal child, instead using it to make intricate lines of toys snaking around the house, he bought Ben a car. Like a normal child would like.

That car was used in elaborate designs, sometimes as a stand-in for Io, sometimes as one of many cars in a long line of toys, sometimes perched on the stairs, where Ben would carefully line toys up, row after ever-loving row.

That car moved with us, carelessly thrown into a random box of toys, to three or four places. The puppy teethed on it, Alex gnawed on it, I imagine that Amelia will also probably chomp on it too. It’s been here for our best moments and our worst.

I find it fitting that our second son, Ben’s brute of a baby brother, would take the car and use it in the way that his father once thought his brother might. That the child we hadn’t even talked about conceiving would fall in love with this toy.

It feels like some circle is now complete.

There are days like today, when my eldest gets in trouble for the third time this week for disobeying rules, where my middle child’s diaper busts a seem and leaks silica all over the carpet, where I learn that the help I’d arranged for Daver’s trip to London is going to flake on me, where the dog pees on the carpet and all of the Miracle Blankets are covered in goo. Days like this that I need a reminder of where I’ve been.

And where I’m going.


What about you?

40 thoughts on “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

  1. I just made a $13,000 accounting error at work today. I don’t know where I’m going, don’t know where I’ve been, but I need to figure it out pronto!

  2. I stepped in dog shit yesterday when I was lost trying to find the bar I was meeting my friends at. I knew where I was going but had the wrong street number.

  3. Oh that is very sweet. In Henry’s room it a toy box that has been through the family starting with my father when he was three. It was built by my grandfather who passed away a year ago in October. It has made its way throguh out the family and found it’s way back to my son’s room on his First Christmas…. freshly refurbished by my father.

    It is the single most ‘valuable’ thing I own.

  4. What a sweet story…

    We just got a few things from my husband’s grandmother’s house that he used to play with when he was little. Now our daughter is having a good time with the stuff. We appreciate the connection, even though she just sees a new toy.

  5. i am the biggest fan ever of the miracle blanket!! are we talking the swaddle??? LOOOVE IT! my little one hasnt slept in two nights and last night at 4:30 his dad took him from my arms and swaddled him so I could get a few minutes of sleep… he slept like an angel from then on out! i had to get up at 5:30 but that one hour was priceless! I want to see this marble contraption you speak of!

  6. Still not sure where I’ve been, where I’m going or how I’ve lost my mind. If I find it I’ll let you know. I know I need a months worth of mrest and relaxation, and coffee;0

  7. That’s a great story. I admire your strength and the meaning behind that little car.

    Where am I going? In a circle that seems to be getting tighter and tighter. Where have I been? My utter lack of memory and fried braincells prevent me from even attempting to answer that question.

  8. Straight to hell. Wanna come?

    I puffy heart Ben and The Daver, but not in a sick, put me on a watch list kinda way:)

  9. Oh now that is too cute!!! 🙂

    I had a little trip down memory lane the other day when a friend emailed me a picure she had come across — of me and my DH on her deck taken back in 1998, our senior year of high school. We were laughing about something. Little did we know then all we would go through together, how heartbreaking at times, but how much more we could love each other than we even did back then.

    And DAMN if we weren’t skinny.

  10. I was rifling around my glove compartment today and found ‘the EB’…the emergency binky that would come out in a pinch.

    I could use a pinch right about now too.

  11. I find those reminders come about at just the right time. Could be a song, a letter or a toy car. You just never know.

  12. my mother was supposed to come and meet my daughter for the first time this weekend. my daughter is a little over two months old. she just called and cancelled. no explanation given.

    why the fuck do i even care so much?

    i know where i’ve been. i’m scared of where i’m going.

  13. I still remember my wooden toys. Ones my dad painstakingly made for myself & my (older) brother. I gnawed on the blades of the helicopter, drove the trucks into endless walls and down unforgiving wooden stairs (and maybe off a balcony or two). But, you know what? Those toys, unlike the plastics ones, are still there, collecting dust in a closet in a cabin on Montana. I loved those toys. They were (still are, IMHO) aweseome. I love those toys even more as an adult now, being able to recall the fun I had with them then and knowing now the love my father put into creating them. My dad loves woodwork, and took something he loved into creating something his kids loved (albeit he never knew it would actually happen at the time). As I recall, the only metal piece of the bunch was a screw holding the blades on the helicopter.

  14. I’d like to note, for the record, that the wooden marble thingy ™ is also still alive and well, and is now residing at gummy’s house where it is now the main attraction for Mr. Alex.

    Those Amish folks make some kick-ass toys.

  15. When my now-husband met me and fell in love, he told his papa all about me and my two children. His incredibly wise daddy said, “Son, if you fall in love with this woman, you have to fall in love with her children too.”
    And he did.
    And I fell in love with him. And so did my kids.
    That little wooden toy is a reminder of that same story for you.

  16. Oh, so excellent.

    And I think I love the Daver even MORE because of his Amish kick-ass toy comment. Those crafty Amish will surprise you every time.

    Where have I been, not nearly enough places. Where am I going? You left me a nice note today at my post, you know I have no. clue.

  17. Funny how one object can rewind your life meshing the good and bad so tight, you can’t separate the two, and all you seem to focus on is the good.

    You have been to heaven, (just stand back and look at your family), and there is more to come.
    Maybe some bumpy roads along the way………..but a wonderful destination.

  18. i constantly have that kind of stuff running through my head…sometimes spotting furniture or things i’ve had a long time and seeing the kids playing on/with (aka: ruining the fuck out of) it. i think it happens mostly because, during the infertility years, i lived with that stuff while considering the possibility i would never have children.

    i loooooong for the day i will get to have beautiful, new, matching (yet not too matchy), furniture and cool stuff i won’t have to wrangle children away from…and i will be sad, just like that post you had the other day said…you smarty pants. there’s just so much history in it all, and even the hurt is sometimes good to have close-by.

  19. While getting ready for a tag sale a couple of weeks ago, we scoured the attic for anything worth selling. My son spent hours playing with boxes of old toys, refusing to sell some of them, even. Yeah, he’s going to be 15 in less than 2 months. Too funny! He made more money than anyone at the tag sale, brat.

  20. It’s funny how something so small can remind you of so much. You never know what little item is going to be the one that carries all those emotions. I think everybody gives a child a toy of some sort hoping that it will be the one they treasure forever. It feels like magic when they pick the one you hoped they would.

  21. Aww! I love that story. As for where I’ve been? Everywhere. Where I’m going? Hopefully, nowhere further than my backyard for a few days.

  22. re: “I learn that the help I’d arranged for Daver’s trip to London is going to flake on me”

    * Actually it was Dave who arranged for the help

    * My exact response to Dave was “Sure. If I’m in town, I’ll help out. I may have a couple appointments & obligations (mom’s birthday, exterminator visit), but otherwise I should be able to be there to help.” I’m sorry if having prior commitments is considered flaky.

  23. Damn! Now I have that Whitesnake song in my head. And I’m going to the ice cream stand as soon as Cenzo gets up from his nap. Wanna join us?

  24. When I was little, we lived on the Blackfoot Reservation in Idaho (as total Caucasians; my mom was working there), and all my family ended up with Indian names. Mine is Sunflower. When I was in college and trying to sort out who I was and who I was going to be, I got a tattoo of a sunflower. Now, years later, my family of origin is a mess; I look back on those memories of the way I grew up, so happy and secure, and wonder if it was always a lie, if my impression of this person I was and this place I belonged was always a myth. And then I wonder if this tattoo, a reminder of where I came from, was a terrible mistake. But then I realize that whether we really were that wonderful happy family or not, my memories of that family make me who I am–and cotribute in no small way to making me the wife and mom who is making good memories for my family now.

    A few years ago, when my parents split up, my mom was sorting through the contents of the house and she realized she had thousands of children’s books, so my sister and I went through and took a lot of them before the remainder went to Goodwill. Lately one of my son’s favorites is “The Count Counts a Party,” and we read it over and over. And as I read it with him, I remember how much I loved it; and again I’m remind of where I came from and how I can pass the best of that on to my kids.

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