This morning, the littles and I made a short trip to deliver something to a friend down the road. I was in a bit of a hurry, so we took the van. This is one of our good friends who the kids have grown up around, and they have a little boy who is between Richie and Maelynn's age. They love playing with him, of course. When I got back in the van, having made my delivery and visited a bit, Richie said that he'd like to play with "M". Being the mom who likes to talk to the kids like they're people who are capable of understanding things, I explained that I had to do laundry, M's mom had things to do too, and then I said, "You understand that, right sweetie?" You'll never guess what he said.
"No, I don't. I'm just a boy."
He's right. He is just a boy.
In my quest to do things well, without even realizing it, I measure my worth by performance. Is my house a mess? I must apologize and make light of my inability to keep that done. Is my child misbehaving? I'm quick to verbally and otherwise show my disdain at his or her behavior. Is my van a mess (yes, it is)? I quickly apologize and find some reason it's that way... "oh, you know how it is..." and attempt to make light and hilarity out of my failure.
There are so many problems with this. For one, my van and my house are pretty messy because they're lived in, and honestly, there are other things to do than freak out about how clean they are. Yes, I should do better. But I don't, and that's that. The thing that is rocking my core right now is the instant need to apologize for my children when they misbehave.... or just behave in a way that I think someone might not approve.
Please understand that I'm not suggesting that children should be allowed to run around doing whatever wherever with whatever and at whatever volume they see fit! I don't! But there are times, especially with Ryan, when I have to educate by example. My calmness has to match what I think others' understanding should be.
Yesterday after church and lunch we needed to find some new sandals for Maelynn. Her little toes are almost hanging over hers, and if you know anything about Texas, you know she needs 'em! So we went to Target. While we were there, I noticed that boys' flip-flops were on sale. Ryan's tennis shoes (his favorites) are wearing out, and he doesn't have summer shoes that fit. So I asked if he'd like sandals or flip-flops. He said he'd like flip-flops. Okay.
We proceed to his size, I select a few, then sit him (wiggling all the way) down on the bench to try them on. Storying the thing to death, as usual, I told him that we'd take off a shoe, see if the flip-flops fit, then put the shoe back on.
When I actually took the shoe and sock off he FLIPPED OUT.
After about five or ten minutes (felt like an hour) went by, I'd managed to keep him from injuring himself, help him calm, and choose a nice pair of flip-flops that he can even wear to summer church if he wants. But in that screaming, hitting, sweaty, red-faced meantime, all I could do was keep calm, hold his hands, talk to him, and try hard to not notice people walking by. I have to say, this time I only heard one person say anything, and that was to tell her daughter to "just keep moving", and honestly, that was great. That seemed to be that mom's way of saying, "don't stare, it's not nice" and I appreciated it.
For some stupid reason, I have the hardest time letting it sink to my core that these things just happen. Just when I think I've carved out all the preconceived notions of how life should be, it's time to buy new shoes or something else happens that sends Ryan into hysterics that reminds me how far I truly have to go. How far I am from knowing that God is bigger than autism, bigger than the messes, bigger than his fears and anxieties (and mine, for that matter), bigger than the school district, and that as long as He knows I'm doing my best, others' opinions shouldn't shake me. Too often I expect too much from him, or forget that something as simple as trying on new shoes is not simple at all in his world. I try to cover for him, or over-explain, when really all I need to do is remember what Richie said.
He's just a boy.
You know what the funniest part of that whole flip-flop thing is? Ryan loved them so much he didn't want to take them off, so I picked him up, put him in the shopping cart, and pushed he and his sister and brother to the front. When we reached the checkout, the cashier was cool enough to let me just rip off the tag and hand it to him, then let me borrow his scissors to cut the thing that held them together (hence the reason I didn't let him walk... and uh... I'm a little grounded from my pocket knife). He wore them to our next stop, then all the way home.
Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy in understanding that I'm just a girl.