22 hours ago
Thursday, January 5, 2017
When I am the stereotype and he is not
Dave woke me up the other morning with this announcement:
"iPhones are durable, but it's not a good idea to leave them out in the rain."
Groggily, I asked what the heck he was talking about.
He held up my phone, its case slick from water. He explained that Max had been looking outside our deck door and started gesturing at something.
"Yes, it's raining!" Dave had said.
"No!" said Max. "Mommy's phone!"
And sure enough, there was my iPhone lying in a puddle. I'd been out on the deck the night before, sweeping away poop specks from two sparrows who are spending their winter break nestled in our awning. I recall placing the phone on the tip of our outdoor table, then moving the table so I could sweep. After that, I have no memory whatsoever of my iPhone. Thankfully, the case protected it.
I lose my iPhone approximately eleventy billion times on any given day, which makes me the stereotype of the hot mess mom. My best phone finder: eagle-eyed Max, who has an uncanny ability for knowing exactly where I left it. This mental acuity makes him not the stereotype of someone with intellectual disability.
Among the many things Max has taught me is that children with intellectual disability are not just categorically children with intellectual disability. Every one of them has unique strengths, smarts, abilities, senses of humor, likes, dislikes, wiliness and the gamut of traits that is humanity. One of Max's special powers: an incredible visual memory.
Max often helps Dave and me navigate shortcuts in our area. If I wear a shirt twice in one week, he will note, "Same clothes!" (How many 14-year-old boys have any clue what their mothers wear?!) He has learned to read not just by figuring out how to string together letters to form words but because he visually memorizes words wholesale. And when I once again misplace my phone, it's Max to the rescue.
"Max," I'll ask, "do you know where my phone is?"
And he'll trot off to the living room to retrieve it or gesture upstairs and sure enough, I'll find it in the bathroom, on a closet shelf or, once, in the hamper.
My iForget problem reached new depths during last week's cruise to the Caribbean. Over breakfast, I realized I left the phone in our cabin and ran to get it. Within a few minutes of settling back down at the table, I realized the phone was gone. For once, Max's radar didn't help. When I turned on Find My Phone from Sabrina's phone, I could see that my phone was situated in one spot, but the app couldn't direct me to exactly where it was. It was maddening. When I went back to the dining room, the director of restaurant operations reminded me to activate a sound from Find My Phone. I did. Nothing. But as I was about to leave, Pedro said "What's that sound?" And then he found my phone beneath someone else's table. How it got there, I'll never know.
Meanwhile, at our house, I'm lucky to have the human version of Find My Phone. He is equally sharp and far more cheerful, not to mention, cute.