Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
If I was to give a description of my son, it would look something like this:
big blue eyes
Autism is just one label my son has. It is not him, not his whole self.
When people hear JT has autism, they apologize. I think it's what they assume they should do.
Think about the first time you saw a child with a disability. You probably were sad. In your mind, the child would never be normal. You were probably sad for the parent(s). How hard it must be to raise a child who will never truly fit in. With such a restricted existence, surely they must have to drag themselves out of bed every morning. You probably questioned how the parents could do it. They must be martyrs. Saints. Something. I could certainly never do that, you probably thought.
You'd be surprised.
I never thought I would be a special needs mother. Like every other parent out there, when I was pregnant, I decided I would accept and love my child regardless, while secretly praying he would be happy, healthy and normal.
When you have a special needs child, he is nothing like that kid in the grocery store. Why? Because he's yours. You have had him from the moment he came out. Even if you have to change his diaper for his whole life, it's not like you walked in on it when he turned seven. You have been doing it from the start. You love him. You, without thinking, have not only come to love him despite his differences, but somewhere along the way you have fallen in love with him because of them.
There is something beautiful about a special needs child. They give you perspective. They are the real teachers in life. They are the ones that touch your heart, but keep going, until they have tattooed their place in your soul as well. They are just like the rest of us, only different.
I read something once that perfectly describes having an autistic child, and probably fits the bill for most special needs kids. Having kids is like going on a trip. You go through life, and pregnancy, expecting to board the plane and get off and be at the beach. Only when you arrive, you're not at the beach, you're in Europe. Yeah, Europe is a great place, but it's not what you packed for. You're totally unprepared. You researched a trip at the beach, and what you would do there. You have no idea what to do in Europe. You're caught totally unprepared in an unfamiliar place. So now you have to start over, and you're already there.
My therapist told me I have a great sense of humor and complimented how well we're doing with JT. I laughed. I mean, The Hubs and I notice JT's funny tics. How he shakes his head no if he gets frustrated (he's not saying no, that's his 'thing'), the toe-walking, the lack of eye contact... But what are our options? We can either sit and mope and ask God 'Why me?', or, we can pull up our big girl (and boy) panties and be thankful we have a son that thinks we're as funny as we think he is.
JT has taught our whole family the true meaning of love and acceptance. He has taught us patience, and has given us faith. His sister has learned empathy unlike any other three year old I have ever seen.
Given the opportunity, I would never have chosen to be a mom of a special needs kid. But that was before I met JT. Now, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Sure, it gets frustrating. And I don't even remember what it was like to be embarassed, I've given up on that. But I would be so lost without him.
Every night when I tuck JT in, I remind him.
"You are perfect just the way you are little man. Momma loves you. Get some sleep for our fun day tomorrow."
It all started when he ate the penny. Then he broke his arm. He pulled our tv down on top of himself.
He has a new trick. He jumps off things.
Not a big deal when it's a bed and he's jumping into a pile of blankets and pillows. I can handle that.
Now he moved on to the kitchen table.
He climbed up, harassing a cat. Innocent enough. I mean, what two year old hasn't climbed onto a table? Then he remembered something. Mom isn't scared enough. So he stands up, looks me right in the eye, and walks to the edge. I wasn't close enough to stop him, so immediately the bargaining and pleading begin.
"JTmy - nonono baby! JTmy, can you get the kitty? JTmy, I'll do whatever you want, just don't..." Too late.
He lands, two-footed, and takes off running. And needless to say, laughing, probably at me.
My heart is still recovering.
Seeing the opportunity, I had to ask."Hon, why are you scared of Santa?"
"Because, mommy, Santa is a pirate," she replied.
At this point, I am completely confused. "What?" is all I can manage. I mean, maybe she didn't understand the question, because surely she doesn't think that Santa's a pirate!
"Santa says Yo-Ho-Ho. That means he's a pirate, mommy," she replies.
Even better? After thirty minutes of arguing with my three year old, she STILL believes Santa is a pirate and is going to TAKE STUFF on Christmas Eve.