LAKE STEVENS — The email sent to the newsroom had “Weather” in the subject line.
It was buried in an inbox piled with lures of crime, passion and corruption.
What’s up with that?
The sender was Lake Stevens mom Tanya Stowell.
“My son who is on the autism spectrum loves doing little news bits,” Stowell wrote. “Recently he did the Lake Stevens weekend weather update and was awesome. I told him I would share it with the local news. I’m a mom of my word so here he is. Hope it makes you smile.”
It did. And I liked the part of her being a mom of her word.
“Welcome to weather channel, I am your local weatherman, David,” the 10-year-old boy said in the video.
He wore a bright blue Super Mario T-shirt. He told the highs and lows, nailing the body language with the pizzazz of a pro.
Weatherman David was even better in person.
This kid can make you look forward to rain. In the living room of his Lake Stevens home, David did a live show for me, wearing the Mario shirt and using a weather app on his phone.
It was unscripted and he performed flawlessly.
I thought of the promotional videos Editor Phil made us reporters do for the Herald website, and how many tries it took us to come off as barely presentable.
David was poised and unwavering in his forecast delivery.
“For Saturday, it’s raining,” he said with authority. “Like really raining. Raining, raining.”
Off camera, he joked, “That’s why we call it ‘Wash’-ington.”
David used to do newscasts of current events. His weather reports started with spring gardening season, when his mom was growing seedlings and keenly following forecasts on TV. He became her weatherman.
“He tells me what the weather is going to be so I can pay attention to the nighttime temperatures. He gives me weather updates all the time,” Stowell said. “He usually takes whatever is going on in the environment and he hyper-focuses.”
David attends remote learning fourth grade classes at Highland Elementary School.
He doesn’t broadcast the weather reports to his classmates. The viewing audience is Mom, Dad, his two older sisters and Maleficent the cat, who watches from her perch on the back of the sofa.
The family moved to Washington from Atlanta two years ago. David’s dad, Nate, is an AT&T roaming operations manager and his mom is a substitute teacher working on a master’s degree in education.
David doesn’t plan to be a meteorologist. He wants to be a voice actor.
He knows the names of those faceless unsung heroes of his desired profession. “Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob. Bill Fagerbakke, the voice of Patrick. Rodger Bumpass, the voice of Squidward,” he said.
David already has two years of voice acting experience for the hundreds of characters he created, each carefully cut out of paper.
The cutouts are used for family shows in the living room.
“He does full blown two-hour long episodes,” Stowell said.
The main character is Carrot, a tall orange guy with a big, green, floppy hat and stick figure legs and arms.
The cutouts are at the ready in his bedroom, which is his YouTube studio.
“In front of Carrot is Corny,” David said. “And Rocky, then Match and Leafy and Tennis Ball and Toaster. A block, which is Blocky. Then there’s Pencil, Taco, Eraser and Pen.”
He pencils out a storyboard to design and plan each frame. He then uses a tablet to create the story digitally with cartoon versions of the paper cutouts.
Unlike the weather reports, the YouTube animations are seriously scripted.
“Sometimes he’ll put a Post-it on his door that he’s recording so we’re not allowed to go in,” Stowell said.
She crocheted some of his characters into toys. She’s a fan of her word.
“He likes to make people happy and he understands that he’s on the spectrum,” she said. “There are so many misunderstandings about kids with autism.”
David takes it in stride.
“I think differently than people that don’t have autism,” he said. “I see the world different. I see it the same.”