All of a Sudden, It Happens

Martin and I are on a flight to Chicago, to see Dr. Zelinsky. Two things happened in the airport:

First, the metal detector. I have my qualms about the effects of metal detectors, but I let Martin pass through them. It’s a nod to convenience, I suppose. Plus, at least it’s not one of those x-ray body-scan machines. I have even more qualms about them. Passing through the metal detector used to be a challenge for Martin. He might be scared, or refuse. When he agreed to pass through, he rarely succeeded without setting the machine off by touching its sides—either he clumsily bumped them, or his hands naturally flew apart for sensory input and balance. After one or two tries, the TSA agent would let me walk though with Martin, picking him up or holding his arms down and his body steady.

Today as we approached the metal detector, I lined Martin up and said, “Walk though carefully! Don’t touch the sides!” To my surprise, Martin stood ramrod straight, pasted his arms to his hips, and walked directly though the machine. Then he iced the cake: On the other side, instead of wandering away, he stopped and waited for me.

Second, the Windy City. As we sat at our gate, Martin watched the information screen and asked questions. “What does that number mean?” “Is that a picture of our airplane?” At some point, he looked at the destination name and said, “Chicago is the Windy City.” I couldn’t remember ever having told Martin that Chicago is called the Windy City, so I asked, “How do you know that?” Martin replied, “Because my daddy told me.”

What’s the breakdown? On and off for months, I have tried to get Martin to understand the question, “How do you know that?” If we are driving and he says, “That’s a hotel,” I ask, “How do you know that?”, trying to prompt him to say that he saw the sign or read H-O-T-E-L. Instead, he responds, “But-because it is.” If he makes an assertion beyond his experience, like, “All kids except me eat popcorn!”, I say, “How could you know that?” He responds, “But-because they do.”

This morning was no such exercise. I wondered how Martin knew Chicago’s nickname, and I asked without thinking about whether he could answer. His perfect response, missing even his trademark “but-because,” surprised me a second time.

Two big successes inside ten minutes! Still, you know me: I must always temper my enthusiasm. While we were waiting in the jet bridge, another passenger saw our seat numbers and remarked kindly, to Martin, that we were all sitting in the same row. This prompted Martin to ask me whether our row had three seats together, or two. When I told him that our row had three seats together, and that someone would sit next to us, he had a little meltdown and yelled, “I’m not ever going to sit in two seats again! Not ever!” He was crying as we entered the plane.

Did I mention the two successes?

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