Wednesday, March 20, 2019

What this photo says about a boy and his passions

When Max has a passion for something, it is all consuming. Which he explains why he was standing on our block the other day photographing the license plate of some random car.

Max is in love with California. Since a visit a couple of months ago, he has decided he will someday move there. This is not to be confused with his passion for the state of Florida, which is sooooo three months ago. He has since moved on to a bigger and, in his opinion, better state. What both states have in common is that they are warm, and Max really loves warmth. It might be because, as an adult with cerebral palsy once pointed out, that his muscles feel more relaxed in the warmth. But it could just be that this boy likes warmth. And vacation vibes.

Max had been sitting on our porch when he opened the front door, poked his head in and shouted "California!" I realized a car parked nearby had a California license plate. Max was very excited. When we're driving around and he starts squealing, I know why it, as recently happened in a parking lot. Then Max said something else and I wasn't sure what he was saying until he came in and showed me on my phone. A picture. He wanted to take a picture of the car.

I was all, "No, you go take a photo of the car." Not because I was embarrassed—I mean, does any woman ever have any sense of mortification ever again after childbirth?!—but because I wanted him to do it. He said he couldn't.

"Yes, you can," I said, and I reminded him that he had to hold his iPad with one hand and press the white button with his right finger. Off he went. I watched him struggle to do it and I shouted directions from the porch. He ended up taking a whole bunch of photos of that beautiful license plate.

I don't know if Max gets so passionate—some might say obsessed—because of his intellectual disability or not. It doesn't matter, it's the way his mind works. Every one of our brains operates in its own unique way. The fascinations have come and gone over the years: the color purple, spaghetti, Lightning McQueen, car washes, the color red, fire trucks. We indulge him—because if it brings him joy, great. I appreciate that his passions have expanded over the years, as his sensory issues have ebbed, although they're not as cheap as they used to be. He loves to try new sushi places. He adores traveling. Oh, and he is quite fond of BMW convertibles.

A couple of hours later, Max's music therapist showed up and they hung out in the kitchen as I listened in from the living room. Max had suggested the song: California Luv by 2Pac. And then came Katy Perry's California Gurls.

"California girls, we're unforgettable, Daisy dukes, bikinis on top!" he sang, enthusiastically. And I smiled.


  1. I love your stories about Max's passion for other places! I live in CA and would be happy to take a picture or send him something (postcard?) if he'd like that! :)

    1. Aw, that is very sweet of you! Honestly, what he mainly wants is to (at the very least) visit there again but (ideally) move there! He keeps telling me that Ben needs to see Disneyland. And I have to try California's amazing mac 'n cheese. !!!

  2. California licence plates are so cool.

    I first got into them from the Casady and Greene game Speedway2000. They had fantasy space versions in the high scores. The default plates were blue and white.

    And BMW convertibles!

    Yes, that California Gurls from Perry has a vibe to it.

    His passions have expanded over the years as his sensory issues have ebbed.

    Another great song that Max and the MT might enjoy would be "California here we come" by Phantom Planet and the OC. The original version of the song is one I learnt from the Winter family in the Noel Streatfeild book THE PAINTED GARDEN.

    California here we come video

    Now, yours truly has only ever taken a few photos from/on the road. One of them was a wheat farm and a sorghum farm. That was three years ago now.

    "Does any woman have a sense of mortification again after childbirth" - that line made me smile a great deal, Ellen. #gleegene at work again!

    1. Oh, that song from The OC! I forgot all about it! Thanks Adelaide, I'll share with Max.

    2. Magnifique, Max and Ellen.

      And that Orange County show had such a memorable soundtrack even two decades afterwards.

      Listening along to 10 Songs about California which were picked by WatchMojo. "Are they the work of the devil or the angels in the skies"?

      And there is a 2Pac song with shoutouts to the cities of California - "California Love".

      "California Dreaming" from Mamas and Papas. Especially if you like big harmonies and cloudy skies.

      And "Goin' Back to Cali" by LL Cool J.

      Also I seem to remember that Max may be a fan of Lana del Ray.

      And it wouldn't be a California list without Hotel California from the Eagles.

      As for me and the OC - I did not really learn about the show until about 2010-11.

      See if this playlist stirs up anything:

      The OC playlist with 149 songs

  3. Ellen,

    I actually collect old license plates and can get Max an old California plate. Actually I collect wheelchair license plates

    1. Justin, that is very cool! Maybe you can give me some pointers on where to find an old California plate? Max might get a kick out of searching for one.


Thanks for sharing!