From time to time, Alex goes through a phase where he revisits his past. For example, this week, he has been pulling out old books and handheld electronic games and enjoyed spending time reading and playing these former favorite activities, finding them interesting again. While I’m not thrilled that he strews these books and game all over the floor in this rediscovery process, I’m pleased that he’s entertaining himself with what he already has. It’s nice to see him engaged in books and games that he had put away for months, even years. Included in these books he’s been re-reading lately are his old homeschooling textbooks, especially his math books, which isn’t surprising since math has always been his favorite subject. In addition, he’s also been playing several electronic games, including Deal or No Deal and Jeopardy. I’m sure that his reawakened interest in watching the Game Show Network probably has motivated him to pull out his own home versions of these games so that he can play along as he watches them on television.
Unfortunately, these reminders of the past have a negative aspect. Along with the pleasure they bring Alex, he also becomes a pain in obsessing over past incidents. This week, we’ve had to listen to him complain again about previous obsessions: his typewriter, the computer game Monopoly Junior, and people’s voices. Although after his summer of basically self-imposed silence, we like hearing him speak again, we wish he’d talk about something he likes instead of things that bother him. For him, rambling on about when he got his typewriter in 2002, and how he hates Monopoly Junior because it’s a low scoring game, and how he doesn’t want to keep track of people’s voices [in his system where he assigned points for volume and pitch of voices] appears to be his attempt to banish demons through his own form of talk therapy. Listening to his repetitive diatribe is tiresome, especially when he becomes really agitated and needs us to write down his grievances and repeat back what he’s said in some sort of reassurance. Needless to say, we’ll be delighted when he gets past this form of revisiting of his younger years.
With all these reminders of his past, Alex has started a new activity that is actually nostalgic for me. Our cable company offers several channels devoted to various types of music through a program called Music Choice. I often have Music Choice playing on the television as background music when I’m grading papers, doing laundry, or working on the computer. Recently, Alex seemed to find my listening to Music Choice interesting because he would come running to the television when he’d hear songs that he liked and/or were familiar. While I like to listen to a variety of music, flipping between the True Country, Today’s Country, Solid Gold Oldies, ‘70s, '80s, Pop Hits, and Soft Rock channels, Alex tended to drop what he was doing when he heard country or '80s songs. Music Choice offers Alex an added bonus in that they list the title of the song and album/CD, the artist, and most importantly for him, the date the song was released. Since Alex is a country music fan, I wasn’t surprised he wanted to come listen when he heard Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, or Shania Twain, all favorites of his. However, his sudden interest in '80s music, the songs of my young adulthood—when I was his age—intrigued me. This past week, he’s opted to listen to Music Choice for hours at a time, and he’s become a devotee of the '80s channel. For me, these songs are nostalgic; for Alex, most songs are new. As the familiar tunes of Fleetwood Mac, Hall and Oates, and Lionel Richie play, I find myself humming along to those songs I played repeatedly when I was younger on albums, then cassettes, and later CD’s. One evening, I heard Alex’s voice while he was listening to Van Halen, and as I approached the room, where I could tell he was dancing around from the thumping sounds on the floor, I could figure out that he was singing the lyrics, “Might as well jump, JUMP!” When he looked up and saw me grinning at him, he quickly sat down, embarrassed that I’d witnessed his mini-concert. Not wanting to spoil his fun, I left so that he could once again enjoy the music, uninhibited. I hope he continues to find joy in the old songs, and perhaps music will soothe him so that the obsessions of his past will dwindle and fade away, allowing him just to dance.
“God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” Ecclesiastes 5:20