We had just come from a therapy session, where Ryan's therapist is using ABA therapy to help Ryan learn to overcome his fear of trying new foods. Yes, I'm serious; no, you couldn't solve his problem by refusing to give him what he asks for. There's a big difference in this and just being picky and stubborn. This is a problem for us. The other night, I decided I'd try to make peanut butter. Can't be hard. Stuff's getting more expensive all the time, and it's loaded with preservatives. So I whipped up a batch I thought tasted pretty great, and made him a sandwich with it and his regular grape jam.
Twenty minutes of completely melted-down Ryan later, we were both in tears. He tried it, and he even tried a second bite, but the difference was too great for him. It scared him to pieces. So my ambition of peanut butter making landed us both in tears. So yeah, the eating thing is a real problem, not fixable by good old fashioned "eat it or starve" tactics.
Now keep in mind that Ryan has some pronoun trouble. "Your" usually means "my", "you" means "I", and so on. He communicates, but you have to know him.
There, in the craziness of a Friday afternoon in a large, busy grocery store, I heard from my son's heart.
"You're trying to overcome."
I stopped, cart, groceries, two kids in the cart, one holding onto the hold-on handles, and asked him to say it again. He said the same thing. I immediately said, "I know, baby! And we are so proud of you!"
No response from him, no smile, nothing out of the ordinary. But he said it again later on the way home.
Sometimes I think he knows. I think he knows he's different, and he's struggling against the reins of autism... the anxiety, the routine, the need for calmness and familiarity. I think that inside is a little boy who wants to fit in and play with the other kids, but there's too much other stuff in the way. Or maybe he likes being himself, just wishes we'd all be just like him.
What I do know is that he's an amazing kid. He can play a mean drum roll. He has memorized nearly every movie he's fallen in love with. He loves on his brother and sister and his daddy and I, just when he's ready and on his terms.
I know that Richie is a wonderful guy. He has such a passion for everything he does, and he's completely crazy about his big brother. I know that he loves Bob the Builder, Elmo, Thomas, and animals. He totally digs squirrels! We can spend an hour watching college squirrels while brother's in therapy. He can melt a whole elevator full of Baylor undergrads with a "sic 'em!"
I know that Maelynn is super smart, sweet, and loves her family. She's quite a smart little girl, and often is mistaken for Richie's twin, though she's a full 20 months younger. And gorgeous. Did I mention gorgeous? Oh, my. We're all pretty crazy about her.
I know that Richie and Maelynn both love their brother to pieces, and often try to comfort him even though he's hitting and screaming. I've watched them both try. The one that kills is when you hear Maelynn say "It's okay, honey. Don't cry."
So I may not know what's in Ryan's head. I may not know how to reach him, and I may not get him the right therapies, and I may have a hard time even figuring out how to try. We may have some really rough patches in small ways every day, and in larger ways we may be completely re-working our lives to make things fit.
But I know that I'm grateful that having and loving these three makes me Mommy. And I wouldn't trade them for the world!
Happy Mother's Day.
Thanks be to God for our mothers, their mothers, and their mothers' mothers. And for the love He gives us to share with our kids... and for helping us overcome so much.
And to our Moms, our Nana, and the grandmothers gone before us,