Xander loves water. Summers are spent methodically traversing the edge of the city pool. His slender hands scoop water and let it drip from his fingers onto the cement in patterns he finds mesmerizing. He is oblivious to the shouts and games played by the other children sharing the water. He exists in his own universe, in his personal ocean. The sun shines only for him as it changes the shapes of his designs. It erases them gradually so the game can be played without end.
Xander keeps a bag packed by the door with a towel and swimming trunks. Once a week he attends a Sensory Swim program at the local YMCA. His internal calendar never fails and he knows when the time is near. He waits patiently, clutching his bag by the door for the young woman who takes him.
He carries a tattered map of the indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge where geysers erupt from the floor. Water flows through slides which snake across the ceiling. There are pools of all sizes containing water of differing temperatures. Great Wolf Lodge is heaven as Xander would construct it. His map finally lost all its’ pieces except for one frayed scrap. I recently watched him relinquish the remainder with sadness in the goldfish pond in our backyard.
Xander sees bathrooms as miniature safe havens in a world he often finds confusing. Bathrooms exist everywhere with certain prediction. Each contains a sink for drinking and a toilet with a unique flush. Bathrooms provide privacy and quiet. You get to close the door.
Xander had to have his teeth cleaned a few weeks ago. He is terrified of the dentist. Before we can enter the office, he always needs to stop at the bathroom. It is a spacious room without stalls. His favorite type. When he flushed the toilet, I heard him laughing before I witnessed the disaster. Xander sat spread-eagled,flapping his hands as water erupted underneath him Great Wolf Lodge style. We were both soaked to the skin before it was over and water flowed serenely down the hall.
I was glad he had insisted on wearing swimming trunks under his jeans that morning. The denim was saturated and I had to leave them on the floor outside the bathroom. I asked someone to call the janitor. Xander walked into the dentist wearing blue trunks with large red crabs and a winter coat. He screamed and refused to open his mouth. We both left wet snail trails on the vinyl dental chair as he fought and I struggled to keep him there. I signed a paper giving permission for the dentist to place him in a restraint for his next cleaning. The staff looked at me curiously after I burst out laughing when I found out it was called the “Rainbow Wrap”.
Xander and I left wet footprints and a thoroughly disrupted office in our wake. Once outside, he hummed in satisfaction. The ordeal was over. The air was crisp but the sun was shining in a sky without clouds. It erased our wet prints on the sidewalk without ceremony or hesitation.