Today I let a moment pass by. A movie moment. literally. It was one of those moments that I would love to rewind and do differently, to feel differently, to be the parent I thought I was. I give myself the excuse of less that 3 hours sleep.. but really there are no excuses.
Today my master 5, gorgeous Jack went to school and it was a special day, a day where he would be having a visit from a magician puppeteer. The teacher wasn’t sure if she could attend to support Jack and let me know this, so we took him aside and prepared him for the event. We hoped he would find the expectation of a magic show positive and seemed to. I was pretty content when I left that he would be OK. Jack has ASD an so he needs to be prepared for change, for things to be different.
I went home. I called an accommodation place to arrange a rare family night away, and got chatting to the lady who owned the B&B as I tend to do. She and I realised than we both had sensory challenged children in common. (Kids with aspergers/asd/spd). The difference is her son was 15 and mine was 5- AND obviously they are DIFFERENT people, which makes all the difference in the world. Her son was diagnosed at 11 and mine at 3. BIG differences. STILL… I listened as she told me the challenges, the good, the brilliant, the breakthroughs.. She also explained her son didn’t have a lot of friends.
I commented.. “you know..my biggest worry is that my sweet boy will head down the same route of not having friends, being bullied and the like. BUT, I commented I was pretty hopeful that he would avoid this due to the fact that he seemed to be quite likeable and with early intervention there would be a marked improvement of his capabilities”.
(As a mum I know she meant well).. as she explained to me.. that her son also was like this once.. and she was hopeful of the same thing.. but today he didn’t really have any friends. We chatted for ages.. and I hung up.. feeling like I had chatted to an old friend, but also that I was FAR LESS hopeful than when I got on the phone.
I went to school to pick up Jack and was asked to wait behind- the teacher had something to show me. It turns out that the magician chose my Jack to be the star of the show (along with some other kids in other roles)- Jack raised his hand to volunteer and unbeknownst to the magician, Jack was the last kid you would probably want to rely on to carry a show.. But he did choose Jack… The teacher held her breathe waiting.. would he, wouldnt he- could he?
JACK WAS BETTER THAN OK! HE WAS AMAZING!
Jacks teacher explained with the heart of a parent how proud she was, how she sat their waiting, wondering if it would be ok, if he would be ok. She had videotaped the whole thing, not knowing that this tape will stand testament to the untapped potential that lies inside the label that can wrap my gorgeous boy til he almost chokes.
I watched him laugh, be clapped, be cheered and revel in the attention. The same boy that grows anxious entering a doctor surgery or a room of people. I watched as she conveyed the absolute joy in seeing the unlikely happen, in letting him take a risk and seeing him flourish.
At that moment.. INSTEAD OF BEING OVERJOYED WITHOUT RESERVATION I felt consumed with the possibility that this was a peak..an unrepeatable moment…>>>> MY fear that he wouldn’t have friends that …………………blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah…
I spoke of fear. of pain.. of future worry… My response to seeing my son thrive & succeed was to worry about future potential problems.
And god love this teacher she told me I shouldn’t assume anything. She told me I should live in this moment. She told me exactly the right thing.
As I walked away. As I got in my car. As I went home. As I hugged my boy. As he got out of the car. A he noticed the new shade sail we had installed while he was at school. He grew very anxious. “GET RID OF IT- I WANT THINGS THE WAY THEY ARE” – tears in his eyes- absolutely saddened that I would erect shade sails over his perfectly sunny driveway… he was so effected so deeply over something so trivial.
At that moment I realised that I had let a life changing moment to readily pass me by. It was at that moment that I stopped and realised how incredible his achievement today really was, standing in front of his class (several classes) in an improv’ situation, for a child with ASD was INCREDIBLE!!!!! WTF was I thinking that I didn’t take time to appreciate this huge movement forward for him!!??? Why didnt I inhale that moment as a wonder in his proud little life.
SO I PONDER
All children have challenges, all little people are learning the ways of the world. It is our job as parents, to constantly remind ourselves how mammoth a task they have to get used to the BIG things we expect of them. That every tiny success should be celebrated- that aside from success it is their wellbeing and happiness that matters most. That we should never assume, label, limit, or do anything that would write the story before it is written. Above all, we need to separate our own fears from the lives of our children.