Score One for Riley

Tom and Jerry mistake
Say what? That’s not right. Or Wright.

In the midst of a lot of BIG decisions about Ryan — things like IEPs, classroom placement for next year, and what to do about meds — it can sometimes feel like we are overlooking our daughter.

Just yesterday, we had to engage her in a conversation about spring break plans, the gist of which was, “we need to accommodate your brother or this won’t work out.”

We hate these conversations. We hate feeling like Riley is getting the short end of the attention stick. But at least we talk a lot more openly about it than we used to. We encourage her to express her feelings. We try to carve out special activities and time just for her.

We know this journey makes all of us better, more compassionate people. But that doesn’t make it any easier to be a 10-year-old girl racing towards tween-dom and feeling like your parents aren’t paying you equal mind.

Riley is amazing kid. Smart, funny, compassionate, and with a style all her own. We have to remind ourselves not to take her accomplishments for granted. She thrives on praise and is very hard on herself if she falls short in anything.

She is also jealous of her brother’s occasional feats of amazing brain power. She called me excitedly at work on opening night of the NHL season, certain she had made her own discovery of a mistake in the standings.

It turned out she was misinterpreting the tie-breaker rules and hadn’t found an error. Riley was disappointed.

Maybe she was just looking in the wrong place. She loves to remind Ryan that she was a hockey fan before him, which is true, but hockey is still his thing. He lives, eats, breathes the sport. She is a fan, but has much more varied interests.

This morning, Riley was watching cartoons while eating breakfast. I smiled when I saw she was was watching a retro show: Tom and Jerry. Everyone my age knows today’s cartoons pale in comparison to the Saturday morning shows of our youth.

Suddenly, she paused the TV and called me to come look, sure she had spotted an error. The episode had something to do with the Wright brothers. There was a statue of Orville and Wilbur that said “Kitty Hawk 1918.”

Riley took issue. After two trips to the Wright brothers memorial the last two years, she correctly pointed out that the first flight took place in 1903, not 1918. She also knows that Wilbur wasn’t even alive in 1918, having died in 1912.

History is one of Riley’s things. After traipsing through every inch of the memorial in 2011, she insisted we go back in 2012. And if she wants to go again in 2013, I will take her once more.

We celebrate our shared bond over hockey a lot in my house — because it is one of the few interests all of us share. And while I treasure that common thread, I also appreciate our differences.

I’m proud of Riley for so many reasons. Among the things i love best is that she is not afraid to be her own person. But there’s a part of me that also loves that she wants to do something just like Ryan — to use her brain to find a mistake that most people would miss.

I’m just not sure who to contact about getting something corrected in a Tom and Jerry episode that probably dates to the 1950s. So there will be no public acknowledgement of her “find.”

The look of extreme satisfaction on her face will have to do.


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