Friday, August 30, 2013

The Year that Didn't Matter

I've the opportunity to do a little (and I do mean a little) teaching every day for a few weeks.  Although I do not like the circumstances one little bit, I did happily accept the invitation.  Just one hour a day for a few weeks, pretty open-ended.  No big deal.

Well, that's what WE think.  Imagine my surprise when my husband comes home with a substitute teacher application.  Okay, so I'm happy that they're background checking even a band wife who happens to be an inactive certified teacher, because they're doing everything they can to keep the kids of the district safe.  As a mom of an autistic little boy, that counts volumes and I really can't complain.

But I have to list my work.  The last job I did was for the last town where we lived, and it was a contract-labor type thing.  I wasn't paid monthly, just a teeny-tiny stipend at the beginning of the year.  It was good work, and it was fun, and I did it because I loved those girls and they needed help.  I definitely wouldn't call myself a colorguard instructor, but there it sits atop the year before, which was even less who I am.  Registrar at a private school... yeah, I was the guard lady there too, but there were four of them.  Good, sweet girls.  And I worked with three precious ladies in the office, all named Michelle.  So that's a weird entry in the ol' job history.

Then comes the ones I'm proud of.  The actual, baton in hand, in-the-trenches band director work that I savored.  Those four precious years that actually say "band director" on them hang like perfect pearls on the string of my application.

Then there's the teaching certificate. I was one year short of lifetime certificates, so I have to recertify every five years.  But the thing is, there's no reason.  I have my hands full with three beautiful kids and the special needs of the one.

I was curious, so I looked it up on the website.  Under my maiden name, which looks so foreign.  There it sits... "inactive".

Sorry, folks.  It just looks rude.

Of the four years I worked, only three are recognized.  The first year wasn't recognized as teaching because I was technically an intern.  Yeah, right.  I was half of a two-man staff, other than his dear wife teaching our guard girls and the private lesson teachers that hung around.  That place was roughly the same size as this place, and I worked my tail off and loved every minute of it.  Sometimes I feel like I'm from there more than I'm from my hometown.

But that whole first of two years to the Texas Education Agency?  It didn't happen.

Call one of the kids I had then and ask if it happened.  Call me... I'll invite you over, and we'll go through the two boxes of stuff I have from there.  Pictures drawn from kids who have now graduated from college.  Photos of band trips with kids who are now band directors playing on the beach.  Thank you notes from kids and their parents.  Marching contest shots from the first year... the smiles of pride in their hard work that turned so quickly into wet faces with those two words over the stadium loudspeaker... "Whitesboro... Two."

Ask the piccolo player and the clarinet players and the baritone player who are probably still mad at me for making them stand and play through the show, marking time as usual, tears streaming down their sweet faces, because the most important audience wasn't the judges... it was the home crowd.  I'm still not sure they ever believed me.  I stand behind what I said, though.  I also stand behind being madder than a wet hen because they worked so hard and wanted it so much.  And they were good.

Ask the guy who took a chance on an eager girl just out of college.  Did that year matter?  I still thank him for that decision.  I know it was made with much prayer and deliberation, and I'm still thankful.

It did matter.  It mattered to me, and it was wonderful... but just like the kids had to keep performing to the home crowd with their whole hearts, I have to realize that's where the importance lies for me right now.  It's not even to my kids... it's internal.  It's the vertical relationship that makes it all right, all possible, all good.

As much as I loved it, as much as I still love it, and as much fun as I'll have in about two hours when I'm chasing my kids around the band stands in my band-boosting shirt instead of my band director golf shirt, what I do does not define me.  There are many things that have been added to my identity in the last ten or twelve years, but the thing that has mattered the most isn't achievements, it's about what God has taught me about living.  Breathing. Loving.  Tasting the moments.  Savoring the truths and the funs and the bests; studying, feeling, learning, and living through the whys.

Thanks be to God for the year that didn't matter and every day since.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Importance of a Number

This week has been a doozy.  It's been such a doozy, in fact, that it has taken this long to sort out the things that rock our little corner.  If you missed that and would like to catch up, click here. In the middle of all that, Ryan went back to school.

Yes, he was cute and it was fun.  We were tickled pink about who his teacher would be.  As a matter of fact, she had him for three years already.

Then there are the great pictures of all our friends' kids with the cute little signs depicting their kids' grade levels.  Did I mention they're cute?  Super idea.  Love it.  Only it won't work for us.

At one point, after about an hour long ARD (or IEP meeting, for you non-Texans), we grew curious.  After acknowledging the elephant of Ryan's inability to process anything or learn well in a regular classroom, we hashed through where he'd be and what he'd be doing all day.  It's seriously cool, y'all.  We picked and chose... and by "we" I mean the ARD committee, not Eric and I... the things Ryan would do throughout the day for his next year of school.  And the meeting only took place after I panicked and practically knocked over Ryan's dear CE aid at church, spilling over with "is this right for him?"

So what were we curious about?   We had received and shared more about our son's education in an hour than most parents get in a year.  What was the big question?  It loomed on my mind, but I felt it might be selfish or insensitive to ask.  I didn't want to care.  I just wanted to be wholly grateful for the people not just accommodating, not just tolerating, but boosting our child in ways that will cause him to thrive.  They spent hours if not days preparing for this meeting, talking, studying, comparing... and we want this one thing... just this one more thing.

During a conversational lull, my dear husband finally asked.

"So, when people ask what grade he's in, what do we say?"

They all looked at each other.  Twenty eyes, darting to and fro, looking to each other for answers.

"Well, he's going to be at the intermediate school, and they're all 3rd through 6th graders."

"Can't call him second grade, because he's not in a second grade classroom."

"If we call him third grade, he has to take the state testing..."  To that one, I must add, we all quickly agreed that we don't want that.

Then it got quiet.  Being who I am, knowing my husband wanted an answer and so did I, but we weren't going to get a clear one because there simply wasn't one, I had to say something.

"I've got it.  His grade level is pi."

And we laughed and laughed, masking our slightly stunned, moderately confused minds and kept pedaling with the important stuff.

But when people ask, it becomes the important stuff.  It's a little number, but it's huge when you're thinking about what to write on that adorable little sign.

In my mind, I know we did the right thing letting him go to Life Skills.  It's been great so far, and he's still getting the academics he needs, but in an environment where he can thrive.  He's also learning stuff like how to do laundry, wash dishes, and seemingly endless other tasks he could have to perform at any given time.  All these things are great.  Really. He's working on motor skills, planning, all kinds of things he needs to function in the world.

But the lack of that number still hurts a little.  Why?  

No matter how long we do this special needs parenting thing, no matter how long we live in the club we didn't intend to join, no matter how many posts about how great Ryan is and how amazing his mind is and how I wouldn't trade him I write... no matter how far down I think I've crammed my preconceived expectations about what our children would do, be, and how they'd do them and be them,     every now and again we're surprised by their presence.

Every time I wish I had a grade level to tell people... every time I remember all the great things about typical classroom settings that are different for him... every time I think about band coming up, and that he might not be able to handle it... I panic a little.  Then I remember what an amazing child he is, and immediately I'm so disappointed in myself.

I'm realizing, slowly, that there will always be disappointment in this world, and this is no exception.  But the important thing to remember is that it doesn't mean I don't love him, and it doesn't make me a bad mom.  It just means that I'm a mom.  I had dreams and goals for my kids, and still do.  I'm grateful for all my kids and who they are, but the truth is that Ryan's normal still flies in the face of my normal, and that's... well... it's normal.

So I've enjoyed all your pictures with the cute grade-level markers in them.  Adorable!  And I'm going to do that with Richie and Maelynn.  But for Ryan?

I'm just super excited that he's learning and happy.  There's no number that's more important than that.

Thanks be to God for the cultures in which we live, and for the contrast that grows our worldviews... sometimes within our own homes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Yesterday, after I snapped this pic of Mr. Cheese, we hopped in the van and headed to his first year in the intermediate school.  

The morning was easy, he was great, and super excited to get to school.  No arguments about brushing teeth, getting dressed, not a thing.  So proud of him.  He even had a great first day in a completely new place!  It's the first year he and his daddy have been in the same building during the day. 

The evening was great, too.  No big deal, no major meltdowns.  Not here, not at school.  

Since he's in a new school, and we had to drive by the old one to get there, he did say "You will turn!" when we passed the place we've turned for the last five years to take him to school.  

He didn't complain when we had to stop and talk to the nice sheriff's deputy who had to stop me to let me know I couldn't turn down the place I thought I would.  Meh, okay, so I have to back up to start in the mile-long line.  Cool. 

Fast forward to the afternoon, and I'm in the place he described.  Turns out he was wrong.  I waited for close to thirty minutes to get to where I needed to be to get Ryan after school, and it just wasn't getting better.  Finally, I just parked and got out, walking to where my boy stood with his faithful (and very patient with clueless mothers) teacher.  

Turns out all I had to do was go another way.  It's not hard.  It's quite easy!  Today I was able to both drop off and pick Ryan up with such ease.  

With the right information, things are a lot easier. 

There's been a lot of talk about an unfortunate choice in performance by a certain young woman lately.  Along the way, somewhere, she got some bad information.  She bought into it, and now there she is.  

I've done the same thing.  

Okay, so on a much less world-rocking stage, yes.  My own pains are here, in my own house, and before, in my own apartment.  My own mistakes are just as bad, they're just not advertised.  Yes, you can argue that she's under a far greater scrutiny and therefore has a greater responsibility to be, well... perfect.  But there's just one problem... she can't.

I also can't.  I can't brag that my daughter or sons will never do anything wrong, either.  They do not wear halos, nor do I.  I've done a lot worse and embarrassing than take the wrong route, causing me to swim upstream through hundreds of cars.  

So, while I'm shocked at the behavior that, thankfully, I've only seen still photos of, I'm more saddened than shocked that this is such big news.  As a believer in the need for and the power of the gospel of Christ, I hope I'll take this and all the surrounding talk and not only concentrate on teaching my daughter and sons respect for themselves and others, but also keep teaching them that they will never do anything that will make me stop loving them, and that it is never their place to point fingers and talk about how much better they are than someone else.  

I hope our kids will grow up not seeing that they can be oh-so-much better than others, but that we all are on the lowly, level playing field of depravity and only by the grace and mercy of Christ are we made acceptable.  

Thanks be to God for the right directions, and for grace and mercy for the ways I ignore them every day.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Clumsy Reach

It happens to all of us.  We're driving along, then there's a slow down.  You wait and wait, only to find that your waiting wasn't a problem at all.  The real problems lay in those flying away from twisted metal and glass shards. 

We are, for a moment, horrified.  But by the time we reach our destination, we've pretty much forgotten what we saw.  

There is a family of four tonight who is happy to be alive.  

This time, forgetting isn't happening.  This time, our hearts are broken with them for the months of recuperating and long days and nights in the hospital, waiting to go home.  

This time, we're rejoicing with them for the Lord's protection.  

This time, we're standing in the hospital room scrambling for words while at the same time praying that we won't say anything stupid.  

All the kids love their girls.  Richie and Maelynn and I were able to talk about getting to see their friend today as they went to bed.  Richie didn't have as much to say, or any real questions other than when they can go to her house.  Maelynn chattered on at length about this and that about the girls and their parents, all four part of their lives as close family friends.  Fellow band directors and their kids are family around here.  

Ryan?  He simply said, "You want B and L?"  

He wants them.  That's his way of saying that he wants to see them too, and to make sure they're okay by laying his own eyes on his friends.  As the rest of us scramble for words and try to time visits to not be too obnoxious and keep up without being too pushy or nosy... he states so simply, so eloquently that he wants them.  He wants his friends to be as they were.  

He doesn't clamber to the door when they get here, and he doesn't cry when they leave.  While they're here to play or hang out while their parents are out, he doesn't really seek to interact with them that much.  They try to interact with him, they have learned a lot about him over the last few years and work to help integrate him and keep him safe while being their kid-selves when we're together, wherever.  

The other two love the girls to pieces.  They are the ones who cry when the girls have to head home in the times they're here.  And I know they hurt for them too.  

None of us know what to say or do, other than offer our love and help and show our faces every now and again.  We trip over our tongues and fumbling hands as we reach in a desperate attempt to help carry even a shard of the burden.  

And we pray that our clumsy attempts to hug them with our hearts will be felt, even for a moment. 

At the same time, we thank our God for holding them tight and protecting them from the worst, blessing us with them still.  We pray for their healing in every way they'll need it. 

C, K, B, and L, we love you and we're praying for all of you.  

Thanks be to God for protecting that sweet mom and dad, and those precious girls.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What it's Really About

 Yesterday I shared with you a "Letter to the Starer."

This is not the first time we've encountered this kind of judgement.  It's so far beyond the first time that I hate to admit how many times it's happened.  I've cried all the way home before.  I've kept my head down and just tried to get him outta there without hurting himself or anyone else inadvertently.

The part that hurt this time is that it was his normal that was so out of place.

As they get older, they get bigger.  As they get bigger, the gap between their behavior and typical, age appropriate behavior widens.  With that, I would argue, the anxiety grows.

The microscope zooms in.

Every time I feel I'm publicly shamed in a way for my son's behavior, my first instinct is to throw out his diagnosis.

"You don't understand... he's autistic."  

That is a true statement.  An honest defense, if you will, of my sweet yet loud and bounding young man.  

But there are enough things out there screaming about autism.  


Okay, so I'm not going to stop writing about it, because there are still people who don't understand.  But here's the thing.  

There aren't enough people out there understanding that we are all human.  

That man may very well be the same kind of sinner saved by irresistible grace that I am thankful to be.  He may be someone who has not yet heard about that grace, but either way, he is likely a perfectly nice guy.  Yes, he hurt my feelings.  Yes, I felt like his actions were a bit much.  

But he's human.  

He should receive the same grace I receive every day.  From the guy who cuts you off in traffic to the sacker at the store who broke your eggs to the husband who can't seem to hear you when you're talking, we're all human.  All fallible.  Imperfect.  Unreasonable.  Selfish.  Tired.  Frustrated.  

We are all in need of grace and mercy.  

So through all this, whether you ever see an autistic child or not, I hope you will walk away with a little more mercy for the guy who put pickles and mustard on a burger you CLEARLY ordered cheese and catsup ONLY (can you guess what happened to me yesterday after the doctor's office?), or the hairdresser whose idea of an inch is WAY different than yours.   

Because it's not just about autism.  It's not about any other specific difference between you and I and the guy on the corner.  It's about uncommon grace and mercy and trust that we're all plugging along the best we can.  

It's time to zoom out, and maybe even do our best to put away the microscope. 

Thanks be to God for forgiveness, grace, and mercy.

Letter to the Starer

Dear Older Man behind me in line,

I get it.

He's loud, he's all over the place.  He's too big to be acting like that.

I get it.

And I get that when I smiled and tried to help things by explaining that he's real excited, you couldn't understand why (although I'm still not sure why a snarky "about what?" needed to be added to your disapproving glare).

I get what you couldn't see.  That his sister and brother were in the play part of the waiting room, and I wanted to get back to them, but needed to pay attention to the lady at the desk.  He was loud and hummy and stimmy, but he was happy.  I spend so much time with him when he's not happy that it's hard to remember that his happy is still unacceptable to the outside world.

Oh, if you saw his unhappy... I shudder to imagine your reaction.

I also get that I don't know where you were today and what you've done and what you face when you leave.  Your wife, friend, or family member in the wheelchair in front of you likely takes a lot of care.  So in a way, it's a possibility that we have more in common than you'd think.

It looked like maybe you wanted to protect her from Ryan.  So I joined you, although there was plenty of space for you to back up, in making sure Ryan didn't inadvertently sit in her lap.  When you moved closer, both of you still glaring, it was pretty obvious.  Still, I kept him between my arms at the counter so that he couldn't ping around the room.

When his sister was being weighed, I saw you get up when you figured out who it was behind you, turning to stare more at the sideshow.

I thought I'd managed to ignore the things that happened.  To let them roll of my back, if you will.  But then we made it to the room and about halfway through waiting for the doctor, I caught myself shushing the kids more than usual.

I felt my head tighten.

I caught myself panicking.

What if he was causing you a problem?  How would I take it if he brought it upon himself to actually verbalize what he thought, like that viral letter?

Then, it dawned on me... the kids are being great.  They're not arguing, they're playing alongside each other.  It's a small room, yes.  It's loud.  But they're being great.

While it hurts to be stared at, studied, and have people assume that since my son has visible issues, he's fair game to be used as entertainment or as a landing pad for others' judgement, I'm doing my best.

Ryan's doing his best.

Richie and Maelynn are doing their best.

We're out there living, exactly like we're supposed to be.  You're out there living too.  All I can do is trust that you're doing the best you can, and hope that someday you'll find that so much goes on below the surface.

And I will continue to work to rest in the fact that Ryan is who he was made to be.  I'm doing what I can... and I can only trust that you are doing what you can, too.  And not let fear of your opinion make me feel shame.

Because that shame is heavy.  The fear that people will think... or worse, share that they think... I'm just a horrible parent is not fair to Ryan or Richie or Maelynn.  Or me.

I hope you had a good day.   I know that once I remembered how little your opinion means in the grand scheme of the day, I did too.

Thanks be to God, for the millionth time, for Ryan. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Moving Van

On our way into town the other day, I noticed a large U-Haul truck passing on the overpass above us.  I  had to wonder what they were doing, whether moving to a new city, why, where, and just what the story could be.  It was 9:45 on a Sunday morning, after all.  Were they coming from hours away, exhausted and almost to their destination?

Then there's the truck itself.  What's in there?  It could be household items, yes.  But it could be instruments, the contents of a business, just about anything.  Well, anything smaller than an elephant anyway.

There's little you can tell, really.  The only thing I know for sure is that the truck was the same orange variety we've used umpteen times.  I know which way he, she, or they were headed and at what time.

Now let's say the driver and I ran into each other at a truck stop and struck up a conversation.  Let's say he's headed to someplace I've been, but not for years.  And he's going for a completely different reason I went.

Since I've been the same place he's been, I obviously know everything he's doing.  I take a moment to tell him exactly where to go and how to get there.  All I needed was to hear that he's going to the same city where I've been, in the same type of vehicle, so I can tell him everything he needs to know, right?

But I've not been where he's going.  He may be completely across town from where I've been. And where I was may not even be there anymore.

I know nothing of his vehicle and how it works.  I know that the one I had wouldn't go above 65 miles per hour, and the air conditioner was out.  Maybe his is fine.  Maybe mine was fine, but his AC is out.

And here's the big one.  Don't miss this.

I know nothing about his load.

Unless he raises the back of the moving van, unpacks everything inside, and spends hours if not days explaining it all, I'll never know the load he carries.

Even if he does explain it, I'll never know.  I'll never know the significance or insignificance of the belongings in tow.  I'll never feel the way he felt when he saw the things he saw.  He cannot recreate for me, even if he tries, the experiences, relationships, loves, hates, joys, and hurts that go along with the load's accumulation, packing, and unpacking.

But what if I really want to be of help or encouragement to him?

I offer him an ear.  A friend to share the load.  I offer him a hand to unload the boxes, worrying not what is in them but placing my concern in that whatever it is, it is important to him.  I handle each piece with care.  I certainly don't try to take the boxes or the whole truck... or tell him to abandon it and come with me.

I pray for him.  Maybe with him.

And then, as I go back to my own load, I remember his.  I learn from it, from what I saw, what I felt, what I experienced.

But not once... no, not once... can I tell him how to carry his load.  What to get rid of, what to keep, how to feel about it.  Those judgments are not mine to make.  God made this man; his providence made the load and the incidentals surrounding it.  My unwarranted advice only complicates his journey.  If he asks for advice or opinion, I hope I'd be as loving and truthful as I can... but always pointing to the author and finisher of the story.

We're called to help each other carry, not take away the load entirely.  We can't drive two trucks.  Just the one.  And I don't know about you, but I seldom do a great job of driving my own.

Thanks be to God for all the great "moving partners" I've... and we've... ever had.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I'm torn.

I want to unload. To bawl out all of the latest mega meltdown and tell you how much it hurts to watch him beat himself.

I want to tell you how all I did was tie one shoe and try to tell him I didn't need to re-tie the other one because it was still tied.

I'm tempted to tell you about how shocking it was that he spun so fast and hard out of control after such a great day.

I'm weary. From being shouted at, from watching him hurt himself while staring me in the eye.  From looking for that line in the sand... and making mistakes.

It's another night that I stand here with my heart aching while he's turned on a dime and is just fine all of a sudden.

Yet another time that I could reach through the terrified confusion, grab him, and rescue him.  To pull him through the brambles and tangles of whatever has him captive.

I want to type and let the pain run down my face, stopping only to look for the bright spots.  Because there are bright spots.  But Eric is home for the first time since Sunday, he'll be out again all day tomorrow, and I want to spend time with him.  

So I'm going to reach through the ache to the bright spots.  And you're gonna help me.  Ready?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

Through the worst, the best, and the in between, I pray that I'll always say... thanks be to God. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Rest of the Blocks

See this little guy?

He's a great kid.  

He's the middle child, the second of two boys and three kids altogether.  He loves Thomas and Friends, "car treats"(Hot Wheels), and coloring.  He's no stranger to running around the house with his brother and sister, and is great at playing house with sister, too.  

He loves deeply, cares intensely, and gets frustrated accordingly.  

Tomatoes, cucumbers, canteloupe, and so many other veggies are his favorite snack foods.  He'd rather have a tomato than a cookie or a piece of cake!  His favorite meal?  Bow ties.  The kind his Grammy makes.  He can also put away a lot of "da pizza that's name is cheese".  

His favorite people in the world are his brother and sister.  He and his sister fight like brother and sister, but they're also inseparable.  He's super crazy about his parents, his grandparents, and his aunts and uncles as well.  Lately, he's been known to put his sister down for her nap, complete with binky (shh, I know... we'll get there) and Bearbearbear.  

And he's also a little big brother.  

Wha?  You can only be a little brother or a big brother to one person.  Right?  


He encourages his brother.  He draws his brother out of his shell the way no one else can, just by being himself.  He adores his big brother.  

I'll never forget the time I first noticed this.  We were coming in from the yard when Maelynn was just walking well, maybe a little over a year old, when Ryan hung back.  Maelynn and Richie were holding my hands as we walked back, and I saw Richie turn... then drop my hand.  

He went back for brother.  

"Ryan, come on in the house!" When I turned, they were walking back to the house together, Richie attempting to hold Ryan's hand. 

Since then, he's led Ryan through so many things.  He's told me what was wrong when I couldn't tell, he draws pictures of he and his brother playing, and he puts up with a lot.  

To Ryan, Richie is his best friend, I'm sure.  Richie is the only person that I've witnessed Ryan ask to play.  Ryan loves intensely too, but in his own way.  A big way Ryan loves when you're super close to him his what I call his love pats.  He is a sensory seeker, and will walk up to me giggling, and say any number of fun, repeated lines from this and that while love-patting my back.  He's begun the same with Richie.  

When I tell Richie to get away from brother when he gets that way, Richie simply responds with, "Oh mom, it's okay.  I think it's hilarious."  Yes, my five year old says "hilarious".  Love that kid.  

Still, it worries me.  Ryan will run to him, giggling, and grab his hands, all but dragging him through the house.  Even in the few times Richie has been hurt in these times, it's never brother's fault.  

There are a few times when Richie has had enough in other ways.  I put shelves up, just small ones, by the boys' bunks.  They're big enough for Ryan's glasses on top, and for Richie to place a few of his favorite things on the bottom.  Richie was so proud of his shelf from minute one.  He placed a few of his favorite things so carefully on the shelf and for the next week or so, everyone who came in the house was dragged back to view it.  

And one day, I heard wailing from the back room.  "NOOOOO RYAN!!!"  

Ryan had raked every last thing off Richie's shelf just to watch it fall.  Richie was broken.  Deflated.  Through tears, he told me what happened.  

Ryan coolly walked around the house, continuing to do his thing.  He did go back, with help from me, and put everything back... or at least pick it up.  He said, "You're sorry."  Whoops, try again son.  

Again today, Richie began wailing in the back room.  Ryan had torn apart something Richie was very proud of that he'd built out of their Duplo blocks.  It was a mess.  Ryan was screaming and beating his chest, the train table, and anything that would hold still because Richie wasn't giving him all the blocks.  Richie sat in the floor in tears, red-faced and sobbing. 

"Ryan tore it apart and I'll never build something like it again!"   

I'd tell you what I said to calmly wade through this ordeal, but I bet you'd have said much the same.  I withstood Ryan screaming at the top of his lungs, this time winning my personal battle to stay calm and even.  

But life isn't fair.  

It isn't fair that Richie has to listen to Ryan scream, or that I have to either.  

It isn't fair that Ryan has so much trouble just dealing with the most simple of social interactions.  

It isn't fair that he seems to need to hit to be okay.  

Autism isn't fair.  It stinks so often.  The hard parts vary from day today. But just like Richie and the blocks, I have to stop crying and build with what I have.  See, there were still probably a hundred more Duplos in the bin, but the insult of losing those five or ten was so great that it just all washed over him at once and he couldn't enjoy the other blocks.  

As I held him, I wanted to cry too.  I get it.  There's so much else to life than autism, than having Eric so busy this time of year that the kids haven't seen him in two days, than the frustrations.  There is so much more to be living and loving and enjoying than to sit and cry about how hard it is and the things we've lost and the hard things, no matter how frequent.  

But sometimes you just have to cry.  

So I held my sweet little blonde, blue-eyed big/little brother.  He cried, he leaned on me, watching his brother.  I asked him if he could forgive brother, and of course he could.  

Thanks be to God for the rest of it... and the challenges.  And for good cries.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Battle Choices

Totino's pizzas.

You know, the kind we bought in college because they were less than a buck? Pepperoni only. Not the circle kind, the little cubes. 

Burgers. Not homemade. With cheese and catsup ONLY. 

Macaroni and cheese. Kraft. Squiggly kind is most likely to be consumed. 

Cheesy chippies and ranch. Basically nachos. Just cheddar cheese grated and melted on top of chips. 

What do these have in common? 

Yes, they're all not vegetables. They're also the only things Ryan will eat for dinner. 

One thing I could add is grilled cheese. Kid loves the stuff, calls it " Hungry hungry grilled cheese" as of this summer. That's been lunch just about every day.   Lately, I've been able to get him to eat a banana after his main course and just before he starts asking for "black cookies and milk".  

This is the same child I fed homemade baby food that I threw through the blender and froze in ice trays in perfect little proportions.

This is the same baby for whom I quit caffeine, fake sugar, tried to quit as much processed food as possible, and tried hard to eat healthy for the first time in my life.

I worried about, measured, read, and fretted.  I did things as close to by-the-book as I could, even attempting to follow the "only so much formula in a day" rule.

SO many of these worries have been filtered through autism, and just didn't make it.

There is so much that we don't even realize we do for him.  In trying to cram it all together recently, I realized again that it's next to impossible to stick one's life into a fifteen minute chunk of chatter.  No matter how bad I want to, no matter how much time I have to cook it down or how hard I work to do so, I can't really do it.  Of course, neither can anyone else.

Eight years later, the same mama who by-the-book'ed it as much as possible, poring over every developmental milestone email is praying he won't scream at me when I hand him something from the Ryan menu other than pizza.

Yes, screaming.  Hitting his head, the table, his legs, pounding his fist on his hand laid flat on the table. Yelling "NO cheesychippiesandranch!" as loud as he can.  Or macaroni and cheese.  Or whatever.

I'll let you in on a little secret.

This is just not something we can handle.

If I give the kid something that is not on that list of a few things, it gets ugly fast.  Not just tantrum ugly.    Genuinely upset, confused, why is my world upside down ugly.

We have attempted to address it, through lots of hard work and a wonderful ABA therapist.  Things got a little better for a while, after a lot of being as positive as we can about Ryan stimming on the way to therapy saying, "No gagging.  You will not gag" and "No feel sick" over and over.  Randomly, he'll ask for something he hasn't had before, or that he hasn't had in a long time.

We do worry about his eating habits, but on the whole, there are so many other things to be concerned with that food aversion takes a back burner.

Maybe someday when I can ask him to wash his hands just because they look icky without having a fifteen minute screaming, hitting fest we'll address eating broccoli.

Maybe someday when we don't worry so much about him hurting himself we'll start pushing him to eat tacos instead of chips.

Maybe someday when he's learned not to yell out random things like "STOP! cried Thomas!" as loud as he possibly can in perfect quiet, I'll have the nerves left to insist that he eat some grilled chicken... or chicken in any form.

I know it's not best.  I do worry about his nutrition, and I worry about his eating habits for other reasons, too.  His brother and sister are stuck at the table with their new dishes while Ryan's having his comfort zone foods.  He eats a few other breakfast foods, but lunch is a bit of a challenge.  Especially school lunch.  What do you send?  He used to eat peanut butter and jelly, then that dwindled to peanut butter and bread.  Then to peanut butter crackers.

At some point, we all have to draw a line.  We know what we can handle.  In deciding what to push and what to relax, we have to reach for a balance between helping him grow and making sure that he is having a good life.  After all, how would you feel if someone lined your home with giant versions of things of which you're terrified, arranging for them to pop up and scare the bejeebers out of you at random intervals?  Now imagine that you have two friends who are truly concerned with your welfare.

He has to be able to trust us.  He has to be able, within reason, to be himself.   But there's where the problem is.  Everyone has an opinion, if given a chance, of what is within reason.  We have been told by a few people that we spoil him.  I used to give that weight in my heart, which in turn started a flurry of panicky change in the house.  You can imagine how that goes with a child who thrives on routine.

These days I'm more comfortable with who and where we are and what we do and why.  Slowly I'm learning that not only is it impossible to prove to everyone that we're doing the best we can, it's not necessary or required.

It is hard enough to find our "within reason" while dealing in the raising of three kids, one of whom has special needs, every day.  But to add the pressure of the opinion of everyone who has felt the need to comment to our... and his... frustration?

There is no reason to do such a thing.

We choose our battles as intelligently as we can.  And the things we mess up?  We thank God for his grace and mercy.  We love Ryan, Richie, and Maelynn with all our hearts, just the way they are.  In all their hot-tempered moments as well as their sweetest, as they do us.  We choose our battles.  We try not to let the successes fade in the wake of the worry of the things that aren't improving.

And, of course, we have to forgive and extend mercy to ourselves and each other for the battles we just can't fight.

Thanks be to God for the reminder that while the array of choices and sometimes the battles themselves are bigger than we are, he is sovereign and his providence is sure.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Not Forsaken

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” ~Deuteronomy 31:5-7

We're sitting at the table, and Ryan pulls something off of (I assume) the bottom of the table or a chair.  It looked kinda gross... so the following ensued. 

"Ryan, what is that?  Go wash your hands, please." 

*pounds chest while yelling through clenched teeth, "NO! NO! NO! NO WASH HANDS!" 

"Go wash your hands.  They're yucky."  No really... the thing he peeled off... I'm not a great house keeper.  Okay, so maybe it's worse than that.  Either way, he needed to wash his hands.    

He hits the table, hits his head, making this horrible angry sound.  I usually call this grunting because I'm not sure what else to call it.  When he finally did get up and head to the bathroom, he went yelling, screaming, and hitting his head and the walls on the way.  

I made him come back so that he could try again, calmly. 

He didn't make it that far.  He couldn't calm down, even with me staying calm.  He started slapping his ears.  It just got worse from there, until suddenly, after fifteen minutes of this and my refusal to let him leave the room until he calmed, he stopped cold.  

I turned to my mother, choking back tears, and said, "This was all over washing his hands." 

And it also hit me, in that heartbroken moment of running about the house, picking up and straightening, trying to outrun the tears, that there is no break that will make this easier. 

There is not enough of any substance that would make this easier.  Not coffee, not wine, not Dr Pepper or any other vice.  Not even chocolate or ice cream.  Trust me, I've tried. 

There is nothing that will make it easier to do in the moment.  

There is no date that will make it easier, either.  Getting away is great, yes.  And everyone needs rest.  But no, nothing fixes it.  

There is no friend or family member, no matter how close or how selfless they try to be, who can take this cup from Ryan or from us.  

There is also no amount of meltdown that could make me love my child less.  

It hurts because we love him.  It hurts because we can't do anything but try.  Study. Seek. 

Right as I was regaining the ability to speak without opening the floodgates, the phone rang.  A friend and fellow team member needed to ask a couple quick questions.  When she asked how I was, I was honest... we just got through with a meltdown over washing his hands.  After a minute, she asked when he goes back to school.  

I know it's okay to count down the days.  I know lots of great moms who do, and that's cool!  But at this point, I can't explain it.  The idea of sending him to school again still bothers me.  I'm going to miss having him in the house.  

Yes, it will be easier to go to the store, get things done in the house, and just complete a thought.  And I am looking forward to that part of it.  At the same time, I'll miss him.  So I'm not dreading it, just kinda indifferent.  Not ready for them to go back to school, but at the same time, things get SO BUSY running back and forth to here and there and keeping up with his therapy schedules and Eric's band stuff that I can't place my hope in then.  

I can never place my hope in then.  Or now.  Look forward to it?  Sure.  But hope in it?  Nope.

But talking to her did help me make it back to normal mommy mood... and it did help that I walked in and Richie and Maelynn had constructed a way to shoot cars from the ottoman to the couch.  They were giggling and having a great time together.  

I can place my hope in the fact that I will never be left comfortless.  Neither will my children.  

Because the hope that I'm doing all the right things is false.  The hope that I'm going to be able to do it all myself will fail.  The hope that maybe tomorrow he'll wake up and be completely neurotypical is so very unlikely.  

At some point before we hung up, I told her that the best I can do is now.  Today.  Tomorrow might be better, yes, but it will have its challenges too.  And as we hung up, I realized that just as I was ready to curl up and cry, she called.  Maelynn and Richie made me laugh.  

And I could do round two if I had to.  I was refreshed and smiling, happy to start over.  Which is good, because it was less than five minutes before there was more screaming, more frustration.  Smaller amount, but more none the less.  He'll walk up to me and shout, randomly and out of no where, making me jump out of my skin countless times again today.  He'll likely melt down over not getting to swim today because the chemicals aren't right, he'll throw a fit over not watching or playing just what he wants to watch or play.  He'll likely get mad because I'll make him work with his speech therapist this afternoon.  

But I will not be forsaken.  

I'm in this for the long haul.  Not for today, not as a volunteer hour, and certainly not until I'm tired of it.  I can't quit.  

And I will not be left without comfort! 

Take heart, dear friends, in whatever you're facing.  Look for the little things, even if it's that you have clothes on before noon... or that your car started this morning... or that the sun is out today.  Or that you were able to get up and start again today, because sometimes just keeping going is the most courageous thing you can do.

You never know how the Lord will send comfort and encouragement.  Mine came in the form of a totally unrelated phone call and a toy taken apart and used as something pretty funny.  

Thanks be to God for his sovereignty and for keeping his promises.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Change of Delight

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desiresof your heart. Psalm 37:4

Last year, I decided things had to change.  There are things we can choose to do, even little steps, to live and enjoy our life.  When I took one of those first steps and showed up at a football game with the kids, Maelynn and Richie cried the first time the band fired up.

Felt like a mega fail.

See, way before Eric, I'd always thought that my kids would be the ones bopping around in the stands with *ahem* my band.  I didn't see a scenario with me home and my husband at the band hall.  Band was life, life was band.  Over the course of the years in college, my first job, and my second, I met Eric and slowly realized that maybe I was wrong. 

But I still LOVED band.  Honestly, I still do.  I still miss the rollercoaster ride of running a great rehearsal, getting to know the kids, the planning, the creativity, the challenge of it all.  I miss the culture of band, and have I mentioned the kids?  There's not much quite like being bowled over by sixth graders in the grocery store.  Then there are the kids who don't know what to do when they see that their teacher has life outside the school... yeah, that look of shocked confusion is always hilarious.  

Now Eric does these things, and I'm home playing Candy Land, reading books, scrubbing the shower, tripping over toys, and getting bowled over by my own kids when I wake in the morning.  

It's all I ever wanted.  


I got to do the career thing for a while.  It was great!  I love those years.  And I'm mostly through the times when I'd sit in the van and cry the first time to show up at rehearsal for marching season.  Now I'm to the point where I want our kids to be part of the band culture.  I want them to hang out and have fun with the big kids... and most of all, I want to share the world their Daddy and I love with them.  

Maelynn and Richie decided that going to the band hall to see Daddy today was a great idea.  Then Ryan heard, and said, "NO BAND HALL!"  

I tried to hide it, but I was so disappointed.  It's not a big deal, right?  Not the end of the world.  I did tell him, in my "mommy will push your boundaries, little dude" way that he'd by-golly go on Friday.  He could have a pass today, but his Daddy would see his face at rehearsal once this week.  

After getting him happy and turning on a movie (and once Maelynn and Richie had a couple of crises about finding what they wanted to take with them), I announced that it was time to go.  I kissed Ryan on the head and told him I'd be back.  


Well okay then.  

He cried out with what sounded like panic.  He had to come with us.  Just HAD to.  Maybe he thought I wouldn't really go without him?  Granny was here, it was no big deal for him to stay here.  On the way to the van, I found out why he didn't want to go.  

"You will not turn off the lights!"

And I thought we were over that.  Best we can figure, sometime when Eric had Ryan at the band hall after school, he had to lock up.  When you're the last one out, you have to turn off the lights and then walk in the super-dark to the door.  No big deal, right?  

Not so much, says Ryan.  

When we walked in, those sweet guard ladies exploded when they saw our kids.  They made me so proud... both the colorguard and our kids.  Richie and Maelynn didn't show the slightest hint of shyness, and Ryan went straight to Daddy's office.  Perfect.  

There was time to run around and play in a back room a bit with one of my kids' favorite people, one of the other directors' kids.  We'll call her L.  She even offered to let the kids play with her while I went in rehearsal.  No thanks, they can play later... and then they ran toward the auditorium across the hall. 

Ryan, however, flopped on the floor and refused to get up.  Again, he was afraid they'd turn off the blasted lights.  Through five minutes of meltdown that felt like a year, I sent the kids in with K, one of the other directors (and L's Mom... the apple didn't fall far from the tree).  Actually, they came back in and she took them for me, not bothering me to ask.  Love it when our friends know what we need.  

In the end, I picked him up and carried him.  Yes, off the floor.  And when he got in there and heard that sound, he was home.  

We sat through the whole rehearsal, kids dancing and Ryan drumming.  Ryan roamed the auditorium while Richie and Maelynn got to play with L and one of the other directors' kids.  Once we went back to the band hall, they played hide and seek... and this happened.  

That's Ryan, being included in the game by L.  She's ten.  She doesn't need to be told to include him, she just does.  He's part of her band family.  She does a great job of treating him like a friend in ways that are respectful and kind, just like the other kids.  If she gets in over her head, she comes to get me.  

She may not know it, but she played a huge part of giving me a beautiful taste of the best of both worlds today.  I got to visit and help move stuff just a little, I got to see the new hats and plumes (those suckers are awesome... and ginormous!), and I got to watch my kids play in the band hall.  

Honor band, schmonor band... I've arrived.  I wouldn't trade this moment for all the accolades, UIL sweepstakes trophies, and other things I used to chase after.

So many times I'm frustrated and tired and ready to scream.  So often there is so much stuff pressing, so many worries about what we're doing, whether we're pushing him or spoiling him, blah blah blah.  Then there are bright, colorful, amazing times when our heart's desires are handed to us, brought into grander perspective by the life surrounding them.  

Kids goofing off in the band hall never looked so good.  

Thanks be to God for giving us perspective, and for the granting of the desires of our hearts, though by the time we see them they look quite different than they began. 

And, of course, for our G-Force band family being so sweet to make sure the lights stayed on.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Last night, I had planned for over a month to go to a Women's Council meeting for church.  I have the privilege of serving with the most wonderfully understanding, helpful ladies who understand that therapy schedules coupled with my husband's schedule plus the commute make it impossible for me to make the monthly meetings.  This time, the one to kick off the semester, I planned to go.  

Eric and Mom choreographed the kids' care so I could be out.  It took a lot more than you'd think, just for me to leave at 6:30 to make the 7:30 meeting and be back by at 10:30.  I kissed and hugged Richie and Maelynn, telling them to be sweet to Granny.  As I walked to Ryan, he struck my heart. 

"Mommy will come back!" 

"Of course, Ryan.  Mommy will always come back."  

He smiled and went back to what he was doing. I kissed his sweet, soft hand and then signed and told him I loved him.  

The same response.  He started to sign it back to me (don't be impressed... it's the only one we use) and stopped short, repeating his first request that I come back.  

I smiled, kissed his forehead, and kept going.  The whole drive, I felt strange, somewhat like I was running away.  Like I was shirking my responsibilities.  I thought about turning around and coming home, then I remembered how hard Mother and Eric had worked to make sure I could go just this one time.  

So I kept driving.  Every mile was great.  Busting a gut singing with the radio, even getting lost on the way to the friend's house where the meeting was, getting out of the car with only my own seatbelt to worry with... it was all great. The meeting was great too.  We visited and caught up a bit at the beginning, then enjoyed going through each others' reports, helping solve a few logistical issues along the way.  The ride home was easy, too.  

This morning, the first thing I heard was the pangs of frustration.  

Nothing was right.  He couldn't handle reconstructing the bridge we made for his beloved trackmaster Thomas the night before.  He wasn't calming down so that I could help.  He didn't want any of the Thomas videos on Netflix, he wanted the ones they USED to have.  So much hitting.  So much yelling, grunting, screaming, and then turning quickly to "You want trackmaster Toby for your birthday!"  

Eric and I both had rechecks for the heart screens we had done earlier this summer at the local clinic.  While Eric was gone, the above prevailed.  While I was gone, and longer than Eric by an hour, due to my blasted high blood pressure and asthma, Eric took the kids to swim, and all was well.  

By then, I had a headache that only allowed me to walk around the house with my eyes closed.  Excedrin, water, and a long sit on the couch turned into a nap while Maelynn napped and Richie and Ryan had their computer and iPad time, respectively.  

Then it was on again.  While his speech therapist was here, it was the worst.  He put his hand flat on the table and pounded it with his other fist.  

The only way I could get him to stop?  

"Ryan, if you break your own hand, you don't get to ride the elevator at the hospital."  

I'm not kidding.  I wish I was kidding.  I wish it was funny.  It's not.  

Once he stopped, he did his work for his speech therapist.  No problem.  I made the comment that it's been this way pretty much ever since I went out last night and to the doctor this morning.  

Immediately, he turned, threw his arms around me, and hugged me.  He nestled his sweet little face into my neck, patting my back.  Already in the floor from trying to help him calm, he slid off his chair and into my lap.  All smiles, all love and Ryan love-pats.  

Maybe I was right.  

The rest of the day was relatively easy.  He played, he watched more Thomas with his brother and sister.  There were a couple of fusses, but nothing like the rest of the day had been.  

He missed me.  

Part of me says that's silly.  No way.  Yes, he missed me, but why would he be so worked up about that?  It sure seemed that he calmed down as soon as he knew that I got the message.  "I missed you, Mom.  It bothers me when you're not home.  Could you stay the rest of the day?  Thanks.  It's hard when you're gone and I'm home."  

The other kids met me this morning with "Moooommmmyyyyyy!!!"  And "I'm so glad you're back!  I missed you last night!"  

Ryan met me with screaming.  Grunting.  Hitting his own chest until it was red. 

I have no idea what to draw from this.  I know that it's significant.  I know that this kid loves me.  I know that he needs me around.  On the other hand, I know I have to do me-things every now and again.  I know it sounds silly, but this meeting was a big treat for me.  The ladies I serve with are, like I said earlier, pretty great.  And it's great for the overachiever in me to know that I went to the meeting this month, and we accomplished so much.  

Now?  I'm back home.  I'm not sorry I went; I'm still sad he was upset.  

You know what?  Maybe sometimes the lesson that is in what happens is just that.  It's what happens.  

This is life.  We do our best, we try, we mess up.  The things that we think are best are hard on us and the kids sometimes.  And this kind of hard-on-the-kids is pretty extreme.  

But it is what it is.  I'm glad my boy loves me; I'm also glad he finds comfort in his mama.  One of the greatest challenges we face is embracing that life is what it is.  The meeting is a great treat for me.  It's okay if it was just another thing on the to-do list of the other ladies.  Changes in routine are rough for our boy, and there will be times that it's hard for him to recover.  And that's okay too.  We have to work on the self-injurious behaviors (SIB's to some), and continue to be creative.  

And in the process, we remember that not only is he fearfully and wonderfully made, but so are we.  We're given the same grace and mercy, though we're prone to wander.  Or is that just me? 

Thanks be to God who loves me through my meltdowns, frustrations, and turns-on-a-dime of emotion.  


Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Wonder

All right, kids... come sit with Daddy and we'll read stories! 

Richie and Maelynn love this time.  On nights when it's too late, they're so disappointed.  They run to their tallest hero and snuggle close, stuffies in hand, ready for one... or four, who's counting... adventures before dreamtime.  


Ryan, on the other hand, is not impressed.  Oh, there are stories he loves.  He adores the ones we read over and over to him as a baby.  Interesting, right?  Most of the others, meh.  He has better things to do.  

Or does he?  

What is he thinking?  What part of this bothers him?  Is it the sound of our voices?  The close proximity to each other?  

I've read of a mother who gets quite a lot of undeserved press who says she remembers the moment when her son, I don't know... turned autistic?  That the soul left his eyes.  

Not my experience.  

My son's eyes are fiercely expressive.  He is severely autistic and those eyes are one of the few windows we have to his world.  For storytime?  They're unimpressed.  

So often I wonder what he's thinking.  What's in that head?  What's in his heart?  Sometimes the heart is more readily visible.  When he walks in the kitchen and throws his arms around me, falling into a hug; when he runs in from the living room, giggling, half knocking me off my chair; when he's angry and his eyes flash with rage... he feels.  He's empathetic.  He loves.  He hurts. 

I can't imagine going through life, feeling the range of emotions possible for any human, not being able to verbally express myself.  Imagine being frustrated and having no way to tell someone?  I'll never forget the time he'd been fussy all day... I think he was almost six... and I asked if he had angry eyes.  He quietly said yes.  When I asked if he'd like some medicine for his angry eyes, he also said yes.  I gave him some pain reliever and his attitude markedly improved.  Immediately, we made an appointment with his ophthalmologist and found out that he needed glasses.  Badly. 

Then there was the time when he was three and we'd just moved to the nightmare of an old house turned duplex here in town.  The floors were old hardwood, which would have been wonderful if they'd been refinished after the carpet was taken.  I was sitting on the couch, hugely pregnant with Richie, when Ryan walked to the table and screamed, "NO NO NO!" over and over.  A quick look told me that he'd jammed a ginormous splinter into the bottom of his foot.  Now, when stuff like that happens, he cries out with tears you can hear, "I got huuuuuurt!!!!"  

And he only does that when he's really hurt.  When he rattles off lines from this and that constantly, including phrases like "Do you feel sick?"  it's good to know that one thing is meaningful.  If I hear "I got hurt" I know to run.  Whew.  

That's good, too... because he screams a lot.  Just while I was typing this, he shouted something random.  I mean LOUD.  Made me jump.  Made Richie jump, then say, "Mommy, Ryan just made me jump when he screamed." 

I wonder why he screams.  If it is the way it feels, or fulfills something he just needs to do, or if it's expressing something.  

I wonder why he hits.  Maybe he's just that angry all the time, or maybe just like that little girl I read about who feels like her body will explode if she doesn't hit something.   

I wonder why he laughs randomly.  I wish I could share the joke... so I do.  I just laugh with him, if it's a place where it's appropriate.  And there are times when I just wish I could understand what he's saying when he says something, then cracks up.  Mostly at these times, I'm just glad he's happy.  

Then there are the times when he goes from the deep throes of a hitting, screaming, violent meltdown, to immediately giggling so hard he can't stop.  A 180 degree flip in an instant.  

I keep putting the computer in front of him when he wants to type, hoping he'll have a Carly Fleischmann-like breakthrough.   

I treasure the few, though maybe three-sentence exchanges we've had.  The lack of communication with Ryan has brought my conversations with his siblings into a sharper relief of thanksgiving.  

He is amazing.  He's funny, sweet, intelligent, and creative.  He has a crazy-sharp memory.  He draws elevator panels he's seen and road signs in order.  He draws pictures of he and I at the top of the elevator with no eyes.  Circles but no pupils.  He draws his daddy and I the same way. Always smiling. 

It's like walking around with a geode in a place where no one knows what it is and no hammer.  

He's so many kinds of wonderful, and so much is locked inside.  We want him to have a happy life, as happy and content as possible.  We fight within and between ourselves about how much to push him and how much to indulge.  

This morning, I sat with my daughter who's all of three, and we had a great conversation about trains.  We had a delicious time of pretending, last night, that she'd bought me a pink iPad, loaded with Thomas and Cars apps.  Richie tells me of his favorite stuffies and his best car treats.  I watch them both pretend with their foam swords, pirates on an adventure.  In the middle of the living-room-ship is Ryan, stimming on his precious trackmaster Gordon.  He's oblivious, except for the occasional shocking shout of "STOP!' cried Thomas!" or "Bust my buffers,' cried Mavis!"  They try to draw him into their play, making him a prop in a way.  

I wonder if he wants to participate but doesn't know how.  I wonder if he feels like I do in a crowd of people at a party where there's no job for me to do... no purpose for me to serve.   I wonder if he's wishing he knew how to play.  

I wonder if he understands when I apologize when I've been to hard on him.  When I ask forgiveness... when I've been the cranky, cantankerous mother instead of the loving, kind, understanding mother... does he process those tears and words of desperate hope that he'll forgive me? 

We do the same things over and over.  We find something he likes, and we do it with controlled abandon.  We live by timers and schedules and first-then statements.  

And every day, I wonder if it's enough.  

I hope it is.  I pray it is.  So thankful we are for the lessons of God's sovereignty that allow us to rest.  How do you rest without the knowledge that you don't have to do it all yourself?  As wound up as I become with that knowledge, I don't want to know me without it. 

All because I wonder.  I wonder and I will continue to love and seek his favorites, his dislikes, his everything.  I wonder because I know he's wonderful. 

Thanks be to God for Ryan, and for the wonder that he and all our children are. 

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