I hope those who are reading this have seen this movie. It will make so much more sense.
Joy, Fear, Anger / Disgust, and Sadness.
I’ve got them all this week.
Let’s start out nice.
In one of my past posts, I talked about the “Autism waiting game,” and how we as special needs parents wait much longer for things to happen than most parents (i.e. first words, first bike rides, etc).
But when that progress f-i-n-a-l-l-y happens, how beautiful and sweet it is.
So for some reason, Daniel and I have been super blessed with a nice dose of PROGRESS lately on all levels.
For one, Samuel’s speech is exploding.
Just in the past week, for the first time ever, I saw him point to Noah and say “NO-AH,” and in the same day, he said the name of one of Noah’s little friends, “HEN-REE.”
Then last week in the morning, I asked him where Daddy was, and he replied – with speech just as clear as day – “I don’t know.” Another first. If I hadn’t been sitting down I would have fallen over.
He’s also inquiring, and trying to show when he’s wondering something.
Case in point: Daniel usually picks him up at the end of the day from the Pre-K playground, but Daniel had been in the New York for that past week. So one of my colleagues came through the door of the playground to pick up her daughter and saw Samuel sitting on a tricycle, watching who came through the door. She went over to him and said, Hi Samuel, and he held up his hands as if to question something, and asked, “Daddy?”
That in itself is amazing (and preciously heartbreaking…) – but he was actually able to communicate that he was wondering where Daddy was.
We’re also hearing things out of Noah that we’ve never heard before – almost on a daily basis now. He’s speaking in full sentences, when we are so used to one-two word phrases.
For example, the night after Daniel left for New York, Noah came in and said, verbatim,
“Mommy, Daddy is in New York City. Can I sleep in the bed with you?”
What I would usually have expected to hear would be something like,
“Mommy, Daddy on airplane? Sleep here?”
But NO – I enjoyed hearing two full, BEAUTIFUL, grammatically-correct sentences.
It’s amazing what kinds of things can excite you as a special needs parent.
Our nine year old can finally speak in full sentences…! Break out the wine! 🙂 🙂
And, Gabriel is rocking the trumpet.
In his class, his Band teacher has a fun way to keep track of her students’ progress – using a Karate belt color system – so if you’re a White belt, you have mastered the very basics of holding the trumpet correctly, being able to play a few notes, etc. If you’re a Yellow Belt, you’ve gained some new, more difficult skills, etc.
She has large pieces of paper on the wall of her classroom, each in a different belt color, and so if you have mastered the “White belt” skills, your name goes on the White Belt piece of paper.
So for the first nine weeks or so of classes, Gabriel refused to participate in this competition, and his name was nowhere to be found on the wall – while his classmates’ names were not only there but were progressing up the colors. I can’t imagine how sad that must have been for him, but he’s so afraid to put himself in any type of position where others might have a chance to make fun of him that I can see why he didn’t want to do it.
Once I heard he refused to be part of this, we stepped up his practices, found a fantastic private tutor for him once a week, and we encouraged him to start trying to be part of it. He wasn’t near as resistant as I thought he would be. Actually, he didn’t resist at all; he just needed a loving push. 🙂
So I’m proud to say that he has worked hard, and has improved so much that he’s gone through the White belt… and the Yellow belt…. AND the Orange Belt… and just today he told me his name is now on the Green Belt!
And, I can’t believe how well is he playing compared to when he first started – and how quickly he has picked up sight reading musical notes and catching onto the rhythm.
So Samuel and Noah’s speech / language has improved dramatically, and Gabriel is blowing up the trumpet.
And I’m trying SO hard to embrace it, but it’s tough to do so.
Because I know it won’t last.
We as special needs parents wait for those positives and little successes for SO long, and then they come, but it’s like, I can’t enjoy it because I know it won’t last, and I’m afraid of the hurt that will follow.
Noah and Samuel’s speech-expanding bonanza will slow down, and Gabriel’s quick rise through the trumpet-karate-color-wheel is certain to start tapering off.
And then, the hurtful, long, drawn-out waiting game for the next taste of success continues.
Yes, I know, I’m talking like the glass is half-empty.
And I don’t mean that as a cliche.
It’s literally that sinking-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach-feeling you get when your wine glass is half empty and you know you can’t have anymore beyond that glass because you’re a lightweight and won’t remember the rest of the night if you drink anymore…
THAT kind of half-empty just sucks.
And I’m so afraid to feel that kind of disappointment that it stops me from fully enjoying the happiness that should accompany such nice success in my children.
And, maybe it goes along with the pessimism, anger, and negativity of being a special needs parent in general.
Because sometimes, it feels like a disgusting, cruel joke.
It’s like this: you have a special needs child(ren), which is in itself, VERY difficult. I don’t believe I need to outline all the reasons why.
Then, guess what you get to look forward to? It becomes much, much tougher to find a school that will even accept your child(ren) because of his/her special needs (and I’m specifically talking about the international schools realm, not US public schools).
Then, guess what the next perk is? If/when your child(ren) gets accepted, that school is going to make you pay much more money than the parent of a neurotypical child, because your child(ren) has special needs. (This I get – more services means more money, but it still hurts..)
THEN, you have no idea what is going to happen to your child(ren) when he/she leaves High School, because he/she/they may not be able to live on their own, and university is a far-off, very possibly-unrealistic dream.
PS – Don’t ever complain about empty nest syndrome around a special needs parent. Special needs parents would kill to feel that empty nest syndrome. That means your child is independent enough to make it on their own. Yeah, we want that too.
So, yeah. This is life.
I suppose, sometimes, Moms just need to vent, rant, whatever. And this is it – a full blown rant if I’ve ever ranted.
And, I’m really, really sad this week – for several reasons (none of which have to do with Daniel or the boys, thank goodness) – other than the quiet, ever-present sadness of being a special needs parent that tends to ebb and flow.
PS – When I’m brave enough to start writing about my own issues outside of being a special needs Mom, I’ll open up about other reasons that I’m sad, but I’m not quite there yet.
But I suppose it’s all connected.
I wonder what kind of person I would be if I weren’t a special needs parent. I know it’s changed me, and I don’t know if it’s for the better or worse.
But I hope it’s for the better.
So, there is no Inside Out character for the emotion of HOPE, so I’ll use the picture of Julia, who is the first Autistic character to be featured on Sesame Street.
Because this amazing act of promoting autism awareness by Sesame Street is unmatched, and it fills me with hope.
And, I also refuse to end this post with sadness.
I have hope, because I must. Without hope, what’s the point?
AND, I have gratitude. I love my children with all my heart and I wouldn’t trade them or who they are for anything on Earth.
And maybe Gabriel will end up being first trumpet at Lincoln Center. Maybe Noah will be a broadway actor with beautiful articulation in his speech. Maybe Samuel will be Science Professor, a plumber, an author, a physical trainer, w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r he wants to be.
I want my beautiful boys to be whatever they want to be: independent and confident enough to live how they would choose to live.
When I started this blog last year, the very first thing I ever said was that sometimes I feel sorry for myself. So anyone reading this has had a front-row seat to my pity party.
But it made me feel better to write it, so at least something good came out of it.
Thank you for listening.