One of the things we face with Dominic is age appropriate play. In talking with other sensory parents, they also face the same issues. For us, this poses concerns on two levels. One, I suppose, is the “vanity” of it? But also and more so, we want Dominic to be able to interact with his peers in appropriate scenarios and manners. We are “gently” trying to discourage play that would be appropriate for a 7 or 8 year old that he does.
On his own, for at least the last year or so, he has been developing his own self awareness. I can’t kiss or hug him at school. His language (not bad language), but the manner in which he speaks and the words he uses are more on the level with a typically developing 10 year old. He calls me dude and bro which I get a kick out of. He says, sup. Dominic does also test the waters on things he should not say. He may say a bad word then look at me waiting for a reaction. You can sense the hesitation in his voice before he says it.
Some of his activities and things he will try to engage his buddies in are still not up to age level. Instead of playing man hunt and sports, he may engage in pretend play, role and character playing. It may just be that I have a budding thespian on my hands. The concern lies partly in that there often times doesn’t seem to be that separation when Mario or Luigi is fictional and Dominic is really present. Some of his books too, are a little below him, so we are trying to filter out the adolescent content and bring in more things that will challenge him.
Recently, as we were cleaning up and out his room, we (I) took the opportunity to clear out things he doesn’t play with and things that were not for a 10 year old including a bunch of stuffed animals. I felt pretty confident that I was safe and he would surely not miss a single item I was donating to purple heart. That notion came crashing down on me this week when he got back into his Phineus and Ferb kick. Mind you, of some of the shows he has been watching lately, I like P&F. It’s funny, I don’t have to worry about language. Anyhow, he once had stuffed animals for P&F and Perry the platypus. They actually fell victim to my cleanup. Fortunately, I kept putting off setting up the pick up from Purple Heart because Dominic has been all over me the last few days to find his stuffed Perry toy.
Finally, Wednesday night, I went into my room and dug through one of the trash bags and found all three toys. I set them up on his bed and was going to surprise him with them so I called down for him to come up and change into his pajamas and brush his teeth. Foiled was I as he had already changed so he went right into the bathroom to brush his teeth. So I quickly dashed into his room and grabbed the toys then reset them in front of the bathroom door then I quickly took cover.
As soon as he opened the door, he froze in his tracks as he glanced down and saw his beloved Perry doll and let out a gasp. Hidden in the dark of my room, I saw him pick up Perry then hugged him. My heart melted and I was happy he found comfort and joy in this doll. I instantly embraced the purity and innocence of that moment, letting go of the fact that my 10 year old son is hugging a stuffed plush toy.
Needless to say, as I am sure many of you will understand and will be simultaneously nodding your head, Perry the doll has taken over our lives. He has made a bed for him. He has also made a toileting area thing for Perry to do his business. While I am home, I am to keep an eye on him. It’s a bit much, but he is happy so for Dominic and for Perry, I will let go and let him be him.