I got a job a few weeks ago, working at a day center with Autistic adults. We pick up our clients at their homes, drive them to the day center, and often take them on “field trips” to the community: bowling, trampoline jumping, and such. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be a challenging job, working with people with special needs. Since my only sibling has Downs and Autism, I kind of feel like I’m just being paid to go bowling with friends. Life is good.
So on Wednesday, we went to Wheeler Farm in Salt Lake. It’s basically a working farm exhibit for small children. Imagine the greatest two-year-old birthday party you’ve ever seen. Ducks. Chickens. Sheep. Horses. Geese that look and sound like they belong in Jurassic Park. (I spent a lot of the time carefully staying between the geese and my clients, just in case. The geese didn’t seem to be aggressive, though.)
And also, there’s a working blacksmith. As in, some guy named Mike with a ponytail and a short biker beard is just chilling there, waiting for groups of toddlers to come watch him get some iron red-hot and make a chain with it.
Mike: “What kind of things can you make with metal?
Kids: “Um, bikes! And nails!”
Mike: “Right! So let me get this hot, and when it gets hot, it’ll get soft, and then I can bend it!” (Bang, bang.) “Now, what does this look like?”
Kids: “A hook!”
Mike: “Yeah! Like, a fishing hook? Or maybe Captain Hook’s hook? Or maybe a metal candy cane? Or a runner on a sled?”
Mike was like a kindergarten teacher, I tell you. The man would be the greatest grandpa in the world. We watched Mike freak out some kids by letting them touch the cooled metal, and he looked like he was just happy to be a celebrity to a one-year-old.
Then Mike looked over at my client, who is nonverbal (doesn’t talk). The client was signing, joking about killing Mike, cutting him up, and cooking him with salt. He would be delicious, he signed. I told him that was gross, and the appropriate response was to say “thank you.” As I encouraged my client to thank the kindly kindergarten blacksmith, Mike looked over, saw my client signing, and signed, “no” at him, telling him he couldn’t eat people. Then he started signing to him, asking if he was going to kill the farm chickens and eat them with salt as well. My client was tickled pink. I was stunned. This blacksmith was bending every stereotype I had in my mind. A signing children’s blacksmith. I wanted to ask if he did birthday parties, but then I thought it would be weird if I asked a complete stranger to come and… smith… for my unborn children’s life events.
I was even more stunned when, in the afternoon, Ethan and I saw three horses, saddled and packed and dusty, just chilling outside the bar on Center Street in Provo. There was a cowboy outside, tending his horses in the marigolds.
And then we drove to Salt Lake, where three Mormon missionaries (including my brother-in-law) were putting on a rock concert to raise awareness that Mormons have talent and good taste in music. An outreach to the awesome young crowd, I believe. And they were actually pretty awesome.
What a weird, weird, weird Wednesday. ♥