I had an interesting moment of reflection after talking to my son last night. It was a simple thing, really, but it struck me. Kyle, who just turned fourteen, was playing his vintage “Super Nintendo” System (remember those?) and I stopped to watch him for a while. He has quite a large collection of games, and always wants new ones for his birthday and Christmas. (I have to buy them from special game stores or order them from e-bay.)
After several minutes of watching him play, I asked, “Kyle, which of all these games is your favorite?”
He thought for a moment. “The Jetsons,” he answered with a big smile.
That’s when his younger brother chimed in, “Mom, whatever he’s playing at the moment is his favorite.” Sure enough, he was playing “The Jetsons” game. “Favorite” is a difficult concept for Kyle to grasp at times.
I thought about that word… favorite. To have a favorite anything, you have to use abstract reasoning. You must make a choice based on nothing but your own personal opinion. There are no rules to having a favorite. You could decide, “My favorite food is fried caterpillar,” and everyone might wince and gag. But it wouldn’t be wrong, because you chose it. If it’s your favorite, it just is. You have complete charge of selecting your favorite things, and they help identify you in some ways. People know us by our favorite things.
So how peculiar it would be, then, to not comprehend the ability to have a favorite. How strange it would be to not know how to use your own personal opinion. In the world of autistic disorder, facts rule. Rules rule. Everything has an order, a time, and a classification. Favorites don’t apply, or at least not much.
But then again, is Kyle’s way better in some respects? What if everything we ate, played, wore, and listened to was our favorite in that moment? What if we never wished we had something better, but instead were satisfied with the present state of things? What if I decided that the jeans and sweater I’m wearing right this minute are my favorite ones? And I’m sitting at my favorite table in my favorite house, looking out on my favorite kind of weather… rain? What if I couldn’t conceive of any better situation than the one I’m in right now?
Perhaps Kyle is blessed by knowing how to live in the moment.
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