This past weekend we had family visit us from out of town. They stayed with us for about 3 days and overall, the monkey did pretty good. Other than one meltdown while we were all out and about, he tolerated our guests.
My brother-in-law has a little girl the same age as my monkey. She is the sweetest, cutest, smartest little girl. She is sassy and loving all at the same time. And I noticed I spent a lot of time this weekend just staring at her. I was mesmerized by the many things she did, her ‘typical’ behaviors of imaginary play with her stuffed animals, of coloring her favorite books, of talking of her favorite teacher at school. She just amazed me.
And I hate to say it, but this also saddened me.
Special needs parents are always told to be grateful for what they we have. That God gives special needs kids to special parents. To not compare our kids to other kids since we all have different roads and different ways of getting there.
I have heard all of these things. And I agree with all of these things.
But sometimes they do hit me hard.
I’ve realized that at home, we have surrounded ourselves with people that love my monkey. In the mornings the bus driver and the aide that pick up our son, they love him. They praise him when he has good days and are patient when he doesn’t. We receive notes from his teachers and therapists at school telling us about his day. Since they know our monkey, they understand how the little things mean so much to us. So when he tries a different food, or when he helps another student, the notes we receive have so much praise for my monkey.
My parents take care of him after school. Lately, the monkey has started to babble more and I get calls from my mom excited that he is babbling “tatata”. My cousins tell me in excitement that the monkey looked at them in the eye while greeting him. My sister will call me about how he listened to her when she went to visit him (of course she has to bribe him with candy first.)
His private therapists also get excited when my monkey is able to get thru an entire hour of therapy without any incidents. They understand how much self control he needs and they praise him for his achievements.
Our beautiful friends. Many of them who are single, with no kids, love my son. They try so hard to acknowledge him, to interact with him, to simply be there.
We have surrounded ourselves with people that love him, that understand him, that acknowledge him. They are there for when my son is excelling, and are there for when my son regresses.
And I am grateful. More than I can express.
So when my five year old niece stays with us for three days, and I see her typical behaviors, it floors me. It is so easy to see the huge difference in levels that they are in. It is so difficult no to compare, not to secretly wish my son could do the things she is doing. I read that many special needs families get in a bubble. They don’t want to be put in these situations so they stay in the safe bubble, to protect themselves and their kids.
And I understand them.
And although I have had some low points throughout my autism journey (https://monkeynismakaautism.net/2016/02/09/sometimes-this-just-sucks/), this time I was able to bounce back quicker. In my three years of this autism life, my monkey has taught me to open my eyes. To see the small things that we always miss because most of us are always in a hurry.
So yes, it is hard to admit that my son still can’t talk, still not potty trained, doesn’t understand imagination play, and all of those things. But one of my favorite sayings is: When you are down, the only thing left to do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going.
Lately, the monkey has been putting on his shoes on his own, grabbing his jacket, and then taking us by the hand to the door. His way of telling us he wants to get out of the house. The simplicity in all of this is that all he wants is to go for a drive. But not just his mama, he wants his dad, and his sister to join us too. And when he sees we are all in the car, he can’t control his excitement.
And that is the definition of love.