Saturday, October 22, 2011

Benjy and The Striped Nickel

You might be wondering how this blog got its name.  When Benjy was of the usual age (12 months?) he acquired a few words. “Ruck” (truck). “Ma” (yours truly). “Ba” (ball). And then, he lost them. He would not speak again, except in his own alien language, until he was nearly three. This was a clue that he had autism.
But one glorious day, just before his third birthday, he did something amazing. Funny, too. He climbed up the stairs that led from our kitchen to our bedrooms, and paused on the landing. There was a triangular cut-out in the wall up there, and he often peered through at us as we sat in our breakfast nook, eating. And it was dinner time and he did not want to sit, so up he climbed. When he gazed at us through that triangle, it occurred to him to speak. And what he said was, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a striped nickel!”
Well. We looked at each other in amazed silence, Lars and Saskia and me. And then we started laughing. We giggled and cheered, and Ben felt very important, so he said it again, with appropriate gravitas. His first real sentence.
It took me almost ten years to realize what a striped nickel is. It’s Benjy, I think. And it’s really, really beautiful.

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