Hearing speech in anything but the present tense makes A very anxious.
His teachers are starting to work on instilling a sense of time using visual aids, but it’s going to take a while for him to make the connection. He understands the days of the week, but not enough to stem this unease. It’s an abstraction that seems to send him into a spiral of worry–are they talking about a trip that is about to happen? Am I going to school now? I thought I just came home. A simple comment like “Did you have gym today?” can make him fret.
When that happens, he puts his hand on the speaker’s chin and makes us shake our heads. Take it back, he’s instructing us. I don’t understand, and you’re making me nervous.
There are verb tenses, and then there’s verb tension..
No wonder communication is such a minefield for him!
So, A, I want to say this to you:
“Thank you for asking us to live in the present tense. Bless you for making us mindful of what’s happening right now.
I’m sorry it’s not time for chocolate cookies yet. I wish there was time for a bath AND a shower. I want to say we’ll do that this weekend, but then you’ll make me shake my head.
Some things don’t need an auspicious time. I love how you interrupt all the tasks because it’s always time for tickles. And you’re always ready to go for a swim.
I wonder if there’ll ever be a vocabulary to say this–you make me feel like the guy in Groundhog Day. I keep experiencing the same moments over and over because repetition is what you love.
I wonder if I’ll ever move forward. And whether you know that I want to. And whether that will hurt your sweet heart.
Do you notice when we try to speak in the present tense?
Will you ever want to ask about the past? I see you surfing through old photos on my phone, so I know you’re interested. But you don’t let me talk about them!
We see you search the house for people when they’ve gone out. How you sit
at the door waiting for their return.
Then you return to the present. Our absence caused a ripple in the fabric of time. Our return smoothed it out.
What will you tell yourself when your sister goes to college?
Will you forget us and make a new ‘now’ when we die?
I think I’ll sit with you and watch the sunlight and shake my head at verb tenses. The present is what I have with you. I’ll smooth out the fabric and share it with you. Now.”