Sunday, April 01, 2007

A light in the darkness

One night last week, our power went out while we were sleeping. Bud woke up - luckily, he was already in our bed - and he got worried.

"Mama," he said, "I can't see."

I opened my eyes and looked around. We were hours from dawn on what must have been a moonless night, and without the artificial glow from the alarm clocks and nightlights, the bedroom was solid blackness.

"The power went out," I said.

"I can't see," he repeated.

"I know, Bud," I said. "The power went out."

Bud was quiet for a minute, then asked, "Can you fix my eyes?"

My husband reached over to his bedside table, picked up his digital watch, and pressed a button, illuminating its face.

"Its Daddy's watch!" Bud said excitedly.

"That's right, Bud," I said. "Your eyes are fine. It's very dark because the power went out."

We laid in the darkness and tried to go back to sleep, though I'm sure Bud and I both knew that we were awake for the day. As he tossed and turned next to me I thought about his reaction to the darkness: In the absence of information about what was happening, Bud assumed that the challenge he was experiencing was caused by some kind of internal malfunction (his eyes not functioning properly) as opposed to external conditions beyond his control (the power going out).

How often does that happen? How often does he assume that things are difficult because of some failing in him, and not because he is being subjected to overwhelming circumstances or unreasonable expectations?

How often do I assume the same thing about him?

I'll need to pay attention to that. I'll need to remember his response to the power failure. And I'll need to be careful that I'm not undertaking delicate eye surgery when all I really have to do is cast a little light.

17 comments:

Mamaroo said...

Ahh Bud! I seem to remember having a similar experience as a kid where I woke up on a very dark night and thought it was my eyes failing me. I don't remember the details of the experience, but reading this post jogged some memory inside of me.

This does give me something to think about though about the way Roo may feel sometimes.

mcewen said...

Oh yes, you're not alone in that one dearie.
Best wishes

Wendy said...

"Can you fix my eyes?" - so sweet!

I hate when the power goes off. It is such a disconcerting feeling. The lack of light doesn't bother me. I just don't like that extreme state of silence. I know that sounds weird. I just find it so creepy when the power is off.

Daisy said...

Isn't trust wonderful? Bud trusted you to "fix" his eyes -- or show him that the problem wasn't in him.

Connie Deming said...

Bless dad-nos and you!
I'm wondering how, or if, Bud processed the meaning of "the power went out." Does he have several concrete ways of understanding what that means?

Amy said...

Delurking to say how much I love this post--and how often I wonder that same thing.

I want to be close and connected and yet keep the perspective of distance, and it's not possible to be both much of the time. But these moments, when the lights go out and that cartoon lightbulb go on over my head? I notice them more because I have the luxury of reading your reflections on life with Bud.

Amy said...

Editing to add: "...lightbulb GOES on..."

Ms. Clark said...

#1, I think it's wonderful Bud was sleeping with you.
#2, great response from smart dad, remembering to show Bud his watch,
#3, great blog post about taking Bud's point of view.

Joker The Lurcher said...

this is just like something i was telling someone today about when my son said he had black hair as though we knew he had already (he has brown hair). we had always thought he knew his hair was brown so had not told him specifically about it being brown. he had always assumed we knew it was black so had not bothered to mention it. its all a matter of perception!

Agent M said...

"And I'll need to be careful that I'm not undertaking delicate eye surgery when all I really have to do is cast a little light." Thanks for that. I'm going to hold on to that one.

Angel said...

True that!
But he sure does have a lot of confidence in you if he thought you could "fix" his eyes... if there really had been something wrong with them!
:)

Mommyof3 said...

Ditto, Agent M. I have carried that with me today and will for a long time. Thanks again, mom-nos for making me think.
Mommyof3

kristina said...

Charlie did something similar when a tooth came out some time ago----he handed it to me and said "help fix!".

Very interesting observation about Bud's understanding of causality: Things happen because of something he did, rather than of something in the world occurring. I think Charlie understands something similar.

MileMasterSarah said...

wow, thank you for opening MY eyes. Really cool stuff there.

melody said...

You've just given me a light bulb moment...a view into one of my son's thoughts...his fear of the dark. He can explain many of his fears/concerns to me, but only after I am fortunate enough to push the right button, to happen to reason out his perceptions. Otherwise he just says "I don't know".

He lives with Asperger's and has many ---what others would call--- irrational fears and concerns.

I appreciate your insights, your willingness to share your son.

lolasmom said...

Posts like this one keep me coming back for more. Beautiful writing, just lovely...

kristi said...

My son has some problems and I think he may have a spectrum disorder. I just came across your blog and I'll be reading today. God Bless.