Every now and again I find myself scrolling over old photos on my computer and when I happen to spot one like this above, I always stop and stare for minutes at it and sometimes longer. I gaze at how perfectly “normal” it looks like. Like anyone I know could have this same picture of their child walking the dog on a beautiful day. I shocks me some days to be quite frank and that’s because my child has been anything but a typical child, and when I see for myself just how well adjusted he is slowly becoming, I cannot help but stare in amazement of it all.
Now, before you beat me up for insinuating that my child is not “normal” as if something is all wrong, save it! He is just how he’s suppose to be, he is not broken and I am in no way trying to come across that way. However, he has struggled his entire life and THAT is the abnormal part I reference. Many parents have gone bat shit crazy over another parent pointing out that a developmental delay , such as autism , should not make their child be considered “broken!” I assure you, I am in no way speaking in those terms here.
Tonight was certainly a night of unbelief right before my very eyes. Tonight was the first night for practice at our churches Upward Soccer league. I was, as usual, the parent on the phone weeks beforehand trying to get as much information as I could, trying to get to the person in charge, trying to feel them out on if they thought they were equipped to work with a special needs kiddo like mine. Tonight was no different, we got there early, scoped the place out for things that could quickly turn the night into a disaster. I could not find anything, not one thing that seemed to jump out at me and scream “red alert!” Not only that, my child did as the others did as soon as he got into to the gym. Kids were playing basketball, he played basketball. Kids lined up to meet their team mates, he lined up and met his team mates. They all headed to the field to practice, and we didn’t head to our car to take him home kicking and screaming ….We also headed to the field to practice! I played cool because I could truly only think to myself “it’s coming, get ready, things will fall apart on the field!”
To my uttermost surprise not only did he get on that field and practice, he stayed the entire distance, He ran, he kicked, he paired up with other players ….and from a distance off the field, there I stood actually talking to the director of our churches sports and recreation, like a parent without a care in the world, I too “fit in!” There was no running on the field trying to explain my child to another, no grabbing the ball and handing it back to another child that he had taken it from, not even a yell from across the field for my child to “STOP IT!” Nothing! Even my husband was mostly tied up with our four year old and trying to help him get in the fun of soccer, as it should have been, and not worrying or helicopter parenting the big kid!
By the end of the evening we were asking the big kids coach if she needed my husband to be an assistant coach for the team so that he could be more hands on with our child and she simply shrugged her shoulders like it was absolutely no worry!
So, why is it odd to us parents when our children begin to “fit in” with the crowd? I think maybe it’s because we have seen the struggle, we’ve been through every moment of the anxiety and worry of the most simplest of task that our children have done (unsuccessfully) 1000 times over in the past, and we’ve lived it with them minute by minute until we are as beaten down as they are to the point we wonder if they should ever …….(fill in the blank!)
It really should not take us as much by surprise when they do, in fact, begin to find there way and navigate through a new task or experience on their own and ….(here’s that word we long to use more often) ….successfully! But, it does truly hit us squarely in the face when it happens! We forget all those hours in a therapy of one sort or another, all those prayers that have been prayed, all those tests and scores that mean something to someone, somewhere.
Our children are more than that …they are who they are suppose to be …they are not broken, They have challenges and hurdles that sometimes feel like a mountain for such a small set of shoulders to carry, …but just remember, in their own time …they will move those mountains all on their own!