When My Son on the Spectrum Approached a Santa Lookalike in the Library
The last person that I expected to run into at the library in March was Santa Claus. I suppose it makes sense that, during his off months, he might research sleigh aerodynamics, time travel or something like that. Well, there he was, sitting in the lounge doing paperwork. OK, so maybe it wasn’t Santa, but it was easily his body double.
We were about ready to leave. My arms were piled high with the latest “Star Wars”-related literary offerings, so I couldn’t stop him fast enough when my son, Colin, caught sight of the bearded stranger.
“Colin, I know what you are thinking, but that is not…” Annnnd… too late.
Like some kiddos on the spectrum, Colin has no concept of “stranger danger.” Well, with one exception. He finds other children terrifying. He would sooner lose Minecraft than approach another child, but this Santa lookalike in street clothes was a different story. I got my apology face on and was ready to pull Colin to the car when…
“Hi. What is your name?” Colin asked.
The man smiled. Clearly, Colin was not the first to mistake him for the man with the bag. Blessing or curse, looking like a celebrity must carry a lot of power. As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.
“Why, it is Santa!’ The man answered.
“I knew it! What are you working on? Is it the naughty list? Am I on there?”
“Last name?” the man asked, leafing through his paperwork.
Colin told him his same and waited while on his tip toes, trying to catch a peek. Our “Santa” did not miss a beat.
“Well, it is still early in the year. I have not gotten to the Gs yet. I’m afraid that you will have to wait.”
I stifled a giggle and told Colin we had to leave the man to his important work. Just then, he noticed the man had a leg brace and cane.
“Santa, what happened to your leg?”
Without hesitation the man said, “Kicked by a reindeer.”
“No, son. It was a new guy. Those rookies, I tell you. Well, I see your mom is carrying a lot of books. You go home and read them. Reading is a great way to stay on the nice list.”
“Oh, I will! Thanks, Santa!” Colin exclaimed as I edged him towards the door. Santa gave me a nod and smiled. Was that a twinkle in his eye?
That encounter made Colin’s day, and mine. I know parenting him has changed me. Some of the changes have been good, and some… not so much. When Colin was a baby, people would smile and coo at him. Then he got older and… quirkier. The smiles and coos sometimes turned into annoyance and glares of disapproval at his atypical behavior. Sometimes I think it has made me afraid of interaction at all. I don’t want to be that way.
So, I’d like to thank library Santa. You reminded me that some people are still awesome and can manage goodwill toward men — and little kids… even in March.
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