Monday, March 9, 2015
Please, See Him as More
When you have a child with special needs, it happens every so often, you forget people think of your son as one of "those people." I don't know if they think the disability of my son is contagious, or just so alien as to frighten them from interacting. We'd gone out to get some needed supplies at a big box store, and had to take the elevator. I know we're supposed to use language opportunities in the community, but the lack of privacy makes my own interactions with my own son in the elevator seem like a made for TV skit, as I ask him to push the up button and he does and then high fives me. The woman who gets in the elevator after us gives an uneasy smile and scoots back a bit.
My son's still reveling in having pushed the right button but I see it and I can tell, she sees him and she's afraid. I want to yell, "He's six. He's about the size of a four year old. He wears 4T shirts and diapers for crying out loud! He won't bite!" I know he won't bite. He grinds his teeth, they're dull stubs of what a non disabled kid's would be but they're clean. I know because he loves brushing them and I have to stop him sometimes from just walking around with the toothbrush in his mouth for the fun of it. We got him a musical one and he knows when the music stops, brushing is over. But he also knows how to re-push the button.
We get into the store and I wonder what a Special needs mom always wonders after one of these encounters however brief, how does the rest of the world see him? If I weren't here, what would they see? Would they know this little man who brings me my coat from the closet when he sees I have my purse and keys? Would they know we laugh because he slips bread slices under the door when he wakes and gets up on Saturday and we haven't, to let us know, he'd like some toast please. Would they know he dances and can say all of his siblings names but not his own? There are a thousand little things I know because I see them. He says "Hello." to everyone, and waits until the bus drives back by our walk to wave and thank the bus driver at the end of the day?
I can count the words of his vocabulary, but not measure the size of his heart, for he loves all of us without reserve, and constantly touches mine with his depth. He waits for grace and nods when we begin. "Now we can start." he seems to say. He waits to eat when others won't. He turns on the lights in the morning if I haven't, and wants the lights out if we light candles. He understands the tone and the sense of things, if not his letters and numbers or how to use the bathroom.
It doesn't mean he's a saint. He throws tantrums and blocks and wrestles with the best of them, but you always know why he's mad. It's usually because someone in his family thinks he won't notice if they snitch a fry he'd gladly give if they asked, or takes a toy he wanted. He has an innate sense of worth and stands strong when he feels he's been wronged, pointing at whoever did something and shouting "UDIDTHAT." which usually results in a confession and conviction of whoever did what.
He can't tell the world what he knows, only what he feels. And you can't know it unless you're willing to allow yourself to really see him, to know him beyond the diagnosis and the slanted eyes and flat face. You won't know him by his reading scores for there are none, or his IQ, but if you just stayed here for a moment, and really watched him delight in a puddle or crunching the last of the snow or yipping at a dog, you'd see, he's not so scary. He's a boy, he's my boy, and he'll always be young in spirit and heart, even if not in body. Stay with him a while and you'll remember to take joy in music, in the beauty around you, and the simplest of things. Perhaps that's what scares the rest of the world so much, being reminded of how much we now demand in our lives in order to be happy, and how very little is actually required,
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