I find him in the living room, a ripple of toys spreading from him. He’s focused on a school bus with movable eyes.
“Hi buddy,” I say. He looks up at me.
“Eyes,” he declares, because we both know busses don’t normally have them, so let’s just address this particular elephant in the room.
Everyone else is outside, and I’ve been in a room down the hall for a while. There are cousins his age out in the sunshine, with toys and sprinklers and funny little dogs and Nana and Dad and sister. He is welcome to take the all-seeing bus outside, but he doesn’t. He needs solitude sometimes. He needs to observe before acting. I understand all too well, which is why I don’t worry. And… I understand all too well, which is why I worry. I don’t fear that something is wrong with him, that he’s fundamentally antisocial or emotionally flawed, but I do know that it’s harder to be an In when the world favors the Out.
No one ever declared that “fortune favors the observant!” or that the aim of life is to live studiously, focused and musing. There’s little romance to the mellow, little focus on the ponderer. We love reckless adventurers and leapers who do not look, and we do not often center our stories around the ones who need all the facts first. But we, the considerers, thrill in the knowing of things. He spends several minutes of every new activity or environment examining, detecting, and perceiving, so that when he finally joins in, he has the exact experience he wants with little time wasted on trial and error. It’s not a perfect system, but from what I’ve gleaned, and I’ve gleaned a lot, science hasn’t decided on the perfect system yet, so I try to remember to honor his code.
I know what he’s up against. I know he’ll struggle with people, because it’s harder to be known when you’d rather be the one listening. He’ll be at odds with himself and the preferred way of Being, but he’ll almost always win at trivia games. He’ll be interesting, and liked by those who are patient. He’ll have to learn when to play a part and how to base those parts in some arenas of his reality, or risk becoming unacquainted with his joy.
I struggle when he doesn’t immediately light up around the Strange and New, because I so love how he is when he is alight and I want the world to see his novel glow, but I tell myself that he is me in this, and he will discover ways to illuminate that do not require flash. He always comes around and finds a way to make Strange and New into Comrade and Comfort. He is a bus with eyes, collecting and watching and journeying. I like that about him. I like him.
After a while, he notes that the activity outside has shifted, so he selects a toy and lets himself out, stepping into the swirling dance seemingly effortlessly, but only because he has been studying it for 30 minutes.