'Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next"
Franklin P. Jones
This weekend, my little town had its annual festival. Every July, The town gets together and celebrates..well..itself for two days.It's a "Yay us" kind of thing. There is a parade and food..people selling crafts and baked goods. They even have fireworks. In the past, Omar usually took some of the kids to see them-as one or two of them had been too little to go .It was past their bedtime-and I don't mess around with bedtimes. We lived far too long with sleep deprivation for me to do that. I'm also not a fan of crowds. And seeing that Omar was willing-I
ecstatically happily let him do the honors. This year though, I didn't have an excuse reason ...the kids are big enough..I had to go along.
I was a little bit overwhelmed..surrounded as I was by five hundred or so people who were all eating and/ or carrying various light up wands, hats etc. en masse. To me, it felt like being an uninvited guest at a dinner party for wizards-as a muggle. Sigh...this is a very small town..and I am definitely "From Away". Oh, people are friendly enough...until you want to participate in anything-because if you don't know the secret handshake, and can't recite the towns lineage in alphabetical order..while tap dancing you are deemed "AN OUTSIDER" Someone not to be trusted with important decisions like library funding(although donations will gladly be accepted). Thankfully this bit of silliness has not affected the herd. I guess you could call them little Visa cards.as .they are accepted everywhere. For that I am grateful
The minute we got there, Lily was surrounded by at least ten shrieking little girls, Zoe was included by default. She sticks to her sister like glue in social situations. Lily doesn't have a problem talking for her..or anyone else for that matter. We are hoping that Zoe finds her own confidence in school this year. Oscar immediately found someone with a dog. He knows what he is comfortable talking about (right now it is animals-mostly ducks..but dogs work for him too) so he finds the situation that suits him. Sammy was absorbed into a group of his friends. As I stood there watching him..standing at the edge... so self conscious(as only an eleven year old can be), all elbows and knees..anxiously trying to work his way into the conversation. I couldn't help but think back to an earlier time...a scarier time.
When Sammy was a year old, his language slowly started disappearing..as did his eye contact. He mostly stopped responding ..and instead, appeared to be going deep inside of himself. Away from the sounds and the sights..away from me, and I was frightened. I had no idea..not a clue. I didn't know anything about autism. We didn't even get a firm diagnosis until he was three. By then he was finding his voice again. I can't tell you that we did anything special..or adhered to any therapy. We were truly ignorant. So I did the only thing I could think of. I talked to him. Non stop..incessantly..I talked and explained and sang..danced and when he didn't answer, I answered for him. I said more to Sammy in that year and a half than I have said to anyone else ever-in my entire life. Sometimes I think that is why I am such a loner now. I have simply talked myself out. Which is o.k., because now-Sammy talks enough for the both of us. And yet, still..lingering in the back of my mind is the fear.."what if it happens again?"
I didn't realize that I was carrying this fear around like so much unwanted baggage until the other night when I saw him with his friends. MY fear has been keeping a tight reign on him..MY fear. He ran over to me and said "Mama, my friends want me to go and watch the fireworks with them." I looked at my beautiful boy..standing there so excited and expectant..and yet so ready for me to say "no". It was as if I was finally seeing HIM..all that he is..all that he is becoming...and I knew, like it or not, the time had come(had probably arrived a while ago).. I said "Go ahead Buddy, just meet us here afterwards.." And poof..with a quick " Thanks!" he was off and I watched him as he was absorbed into the crowd. I had let him go.