If I could travel back in time and say anything to myself the minute before you were conceived, I would hide in the shadows and say nothing. I would not change a thing.
Life: It is about the gift not the package it comes in.
-Dennis P. Costea, Jr.
I initially started this post with the thought of writing about one of the most difficult challenges Autism presents for parents: Unpredictability. Skills that appear to be mastered one day, may be forgotten the next. Language that was flowing one day is absent the next. Things that bring joy one day cause frustration the next. One day we see beautiful blue eyes engaging us. The next, we are lucky to catch a glimpse of those beauties as he spins, twirls and jumps not realizing we are there.
But today, I can not focus on the challenges Autism presents to me or my wife, or our other beautiful little boys. No. Not today. And hopefully not again any other day. Maybe it’s the dawn of the New Year. Maybe it’s the bright rays of sun pouring in the window. Maybe it’s the refreshing chilling breeze that greeted me outside toady. Whatever it is, I feel like today I stepped back from the trees (which represent all of the curve balls Autism has thrown our way) and saw the forest (which is our life). What a beautiful forest it is!
Last night, I took the Little Man to bed. The plan was to tuck him in, give him a kiss, and sneak out to whatever else I thought was so important to waste hours of my life doing. Right now, our bed time routine consists of the LM falling asleep alone in his parents’ bed (a.k.a. the “white bed”)– then being air lifted to his own bed (a.k.a. the “blue bed") when sleep beckons his parents. But as I laid him down, gave him a kiss and turned to walk away he said “Where is the Daddy?” Clearly he did not want me to go. So, I lay down next to him and sang him a song (with a voice not even a mother can love). Nine hours later (thank you wife) I awoke with that little angel still sleeping next to me. It is so serene to watch him peaceful and asleep. I could have stared at him for hours.
He woke when I was in the shower getting ready for work and went down stairs. As I finished getting ready, I heard him call, “Daddy, Daddy, Where are you daddy?” You would not believe how long of a ride it has been to get to that point. First, wanting my wife and I to be with him when he is playing and, second, taking the challenging step of actually asking us to do so. I ran down stairs to find him sitting in our Lightening McQueen tent. “Yes, buddy, what do you want?” He responded with a line stolen right from Green Eggs and Ham, “Would you, could you in a car?”
He wanted me in that car shaped tent with him – and was asking the best way he knew how. The perfect way. Work could wait a little – so I got in. What a way to start the day – me, the Little Man, the characters from Yo Gabba Gabba, the Backyardigans and Charlie and Lola enjoying a morning in a tent.
Roller Coasters are daunting. They can be imposing, loud, scary and unpredictable. They require you to let go of your control and to trust in others. They are not for everyone. But, once you are on them, and let your self go, they can be fun, exhilarating, and create memorable experiences.
Time to stop focusing on what can go wrong and enjoy the ride!