Monday, November 9, 2009

Common Ground

There are four vastly different individuals living in my house.

Mikel subscribes to no less than five different motorcycle magazines. He reads them cover-to-cover, and then rereads them several times after that. He attends rallies. All conversation ceases as his head swivels at the sight of another bike on the road.

It's not that the rest of us don't like motorcycles - we like them all right - we just don't know the make and model of every two-wheeled vehicle produced on every continent since before the first world war.

I'm pretty sure he does, though. He's amazing in that way.

I, on the other hand, am intrigued with the structure of the human brain as it relates to neuropsychosocial disorders. The fact that scientists are far from having all the answers to the ins and outs of mental disorders only functions to feed my fascination.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that when I start rambling about some recent research article on the topic, my housemates get that glassy look in their eyes and suddenly recall tasks that need their immediate attention.

They are not joking when they say, "Don't get her started!"

The Not-So-Litle One is middle-schooler. I probably don't need to say much more on the subject. The things in which she and her friends are interested defy adult logic, sticking their tongues out at us and daring us to try to figure them out.

She also happens to be a middle-schooler with a sensory processing disorder. There are many things about the way in which she deals with her world that are incomprehensible to the rest of us. And she has an uncanny ability to communicate with animals, beyond the ordinary human's.

She is a whisperer. She is my hero.

The Little One does not recall life before dance. Her earliest two-year-old memories include leotards, tights, ballet slippers, pig tails - all swirling about in a cloud of theatrical pink. Her first grade teacher complained that she never kept her feet still. Her daddy converted a bedroom into a studio in (vain) hopes that she wouldn't dance in the kitchen while I am cooking.

She speaks a different language than her parents. To me a Russian is a person who calls Russia his homeland. To her it is some sort of leap. A stroll down a grocery store aisle invariably includes a sequence of turns, combinations, and jumps.

She is gifted. She is a gift.

Somehow we four manage to share a space and a bond. We love one another, and we appreciate one another. Our differences are not perceived as threats but rather as a gateway to learning more about the world.

Our different paths lead us to common ground.