Day One: MJ’s Juice

When MJ was in preschool she would spend time in Nana’s kitchen mixing ingredients to make unusual, undrinkable concoctions. She’d put on a sport jacket and use the cardboard puppet theater to pretend she was in a commercial selling “MJ’s Juice”. All of her life, until the demands and pressures of high school and the stress of conforming and trying to keep up with her peers, and to learn how to “do life” the way we expected of her got in her way, MJ had fun creating. She would mix things up without a care in the world.

She’s managed to create some cool stuff since high school…projects that made it into the juried student art show at college, 3-d models of experimental spacecraft, and plenty of personal digital projects. But we haven’t seen the type of childlike abandon we saw before high school.

Today we seem to be coming out of what the Asperger Experts call “Defense Mode”. MJ has the creative juices flowing again. Yesterday she showed me an idea for a computer mouse in the form of a conceptual diagram.  It included descriptions on the way it would work and why it functions the way it does. It was really impressive. We talked a bit about how we could take it to the next level, like who we might show it to to get some advice. We also discussed going to the assistive technology center at Service Source to see what they have there and see what information we could garner. She said that assistive technology is a special interest of hers and mentioned new technologies that use eye tracking. She’s also been obsessed with keyboards for a while and a couple of weeks ago invented an unusual keyboard and continues to investigate them. She has extensive knowledge of the mechanics and all the nuances of keyboards and tells me way more about them than I can ever comprehend. I can see she is having a lot of fun creating and that makes me happy.

I try to show my joy but it’s hard to stop being Mom when she’s still wearing the pajamas she had on yesterday and the tools are all over the floor mixed with bits of trash and an assortment of beauty implements. “That’s great MJ, but can you please change your clothes and clean up a little?”

Today MJ is tinkering with electronics. There are all kinds of tools surrounding her bed and table, including a soldering iron and a Dremel tool. I made her promise to keep her electronics and tools mess separate from any clothing or other messes. She would like to set up a better place to make her prototypes. We have plenty of places that could work but it’s hard for her to envision the spaces transformed into something she’d be comfortable in. I told her to think about what she needs it to be so we can help. I’d love her to have a space where she can feel free to tinker with things and leave them out until she’s finished.

In the meantime, I continue to pray that MJ continues to develop her sense of self and discovers that the gifts she has are unique and run deep. I pray every day that she finds her purpose and God’s path for her life. I really hope that MJ’s juice continues to flow for a long time now.


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