My son, a funny and sweet 10 year old, is moderately autistic. For those who do not understand what that means, his ability to communicate with others is impaired to the point of having the verbal equivalency of a five to six year old. Abstract concepts are completely foreign to him with every single object, act and word having literal meaning. This is not to say that he does not posses intelligence, however, what it does imply is that when he learns something, it is the physical or visual and literal form that he makes a connection with.
That said, I was completely caught off guard when I saw him knelt down before the seeder pots we had planted a few days before with his hands pressed together as though in prayer, whispering 'please grow, please grow' repeatedly. For a brief moment, I thought it endearing how much he wanted his little seeds to sprout already, just as sister's had, but then the dread hit. Where did this come from? It's practically anti-religious around our house and the kids' dad is resolutely agnostic, also toeing the anti-religious line, and daycare and school were also ruled out.
I redirected my son by pointing to the sun then taking him to the calendar where we marked four more days out as the seedlings' potential 'birthday'. This cheered him up and off he went. I stood and scowled at the dirt-filled containers for awhile longer before deciding to let it go. He didn't know what the underlying meaning of his physical actions were anyway, why stress it?
A few days later just before bedtime, we were watching a rerun episode of Spongebob on Netflix. That squishy square of innocence has a way with kids, and some of us child-like adults, that I cannot give a solid reason as to why our family likes him so much. He's just dumb fun that doesn't get stupid, I suppose. Regardless, I finally found the source to my son's learning about 'prayer'. That little squishy square of innocence was on his knees, squealing his heart and soul out to make Mr Crabbs change his mind, sobbing 'Please Mr Crabbs, please Mr Crabbs' repeatedly. Just as my boy had done with his not yet sprouted seeds.
Ah yes, in my panicky anti-religious state I had misread what was actually going on. That gripping fear of trying to explain how ridiculous and useless the act of praying to an invisible being to make things happen is—to someone who couldn't grasp the abstract concept in the first place, no less—had an irrational hold on me that I'm quite embarrassed by but must admit to having. Mimicry and repetition are the norm around here, and has been for the past eight-and-a-half years, so I should have recognized it for what it was.
Damn squishy square of innocence, anyway.