It is hard with little kids (and autistic kids) to know what is just a passing phase and what is a character trait that may continue for years to come.
Lately Graham has been showing some signs of fascination with the melodramatic and morbid. I first noticed it when we saw Frozen back at Thanksgiving. “Favorites” are still new to him so I asked him what his favorite part was. He said, excited, “When the girl turns into ice!!”
He’s since seen it several more times and will not budge from his opinion.
What’s his favorite part of Wall-E? “When he breaks down.”
And what about Planes? “My first favorite is the song. ‘Nothing can stop me, nothing can stop me…’ But my second favorite is when he crashes into the ocean.”
I had my own slight obsession with melodrama and death as a child. I’ve only grown out of it as an adult, and I think I’ve lost it only because I’ve stopped looking beyond a day or two into the future and have been in a very live-in-the-now mindset for the last 3 years or so. But as a kid, when I played with my toys there was an awful lot of tragedy and death in my pretend play. When I became an obsessive reader, I preferred books with heavy doses of weeping.
But it’s completely possible Graham is just going through a phase where he’s just kind of figuring out the possibilities of death and destruction.
Or he’s just seen too much Thomas, since that show always revolves around someone getting into trouble in some way.
He asks me about death a lot. Not in general terms, but specific ones. “What happens if you do that? Do you die?” (To be fair, he also asks about jail a lot. “What if you do that? Do you get in trouble? Do you go to jail?”
Today he reported that at school they read a book about a lady who died. It took me a while to figure out that they read a book of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. “She swallowed lots of animals,” Graham said. “And on the last page she died. People die if they eat too many animals.”
He’s also started to show a little bit of childish fear, which is honestly a welcome change from his anxiety. The fear has been manifested lately through a question he calls out from his bed, usually when I’m climbing into mine.
Like, “Are there monsters in our world?”
And, “Do crabs go inside houses?”
The big-ness and scary-ness of the world is something I can’t protect him from and I’m glad we’re easing into it a little so I have time to get my bearings. It’s still something that’s small and new for him, not something that legitimately scares him, just something he’s curious about.
Although the other day he asked me, “Mom, when do the days end? Do they go forever?”
I didn’t know what to say to that. But then it turned out he was just wondering when night was coming now that daylight savings kept it light longer.
Phew. One step at a time, kid.