“Hi guys, I am here,” squeals my son to a bunch of strangers at the playground. I found it to be the most precious statement ever uttered. Nobody is a stranger in his world. Everybody is a friend or, at the very least, a potential friend.
I sat on the park bench, the one with words of the playground etched in the metal back. I thought that was funny. Did they think that if they didn’t have that name there it would get stolen in the dark of night? I sat on that bench, and I could hear my son talking to me, as if he was not on the playground, but rather next to me, whispering in my ear.
Mommy, don’t worry so much about me. My world is perfect, and I really am very happy. I don’t see test scores or therapy evaluations; they don’t exist in my world. I am happy where I am. I love the reflection I see when I brush my teeth and see myself in the mirror. I love the sound of my laugh. I love my brother, even when he gets mad at me. I love school so much. Please don’t worry so much about me being “the same” as the other kids my age. I like who I am. I know what love is mommy. I know you want me to do more than just puzzles on my iPad or playing with my school bus, but those things make me happy. In my world, I don’t need to have perfect hand strength or handwriting. In my world, I truly am happy when I dance to a YouTube video. I really do find happiness in the simple things. I can find happiness all around me. Other people might try and tell you that I need to do more, learn more, and be more, but that isn’t true. I have so much inside of me. I am so much more than the world thinks I am. I want for others to understand that I am a square peg in a round hole. Maybe others will learn to make a square hole for me, rather than trying to shave off my edges to make me “right” in their round hole.
This is what I imagine that my son thinks when he looks at me. This is what I envision goes on in his head. There is a wisdom there that even a Harvard scholar can’t understand. My son and all of these “special” and “differently-abled” children are A-Typical Neurological thinkers. Their brains just work a little different than ours do. They may see the sky pink, and we see it blue, and that is perfectly fine as far I am concerned.
I have come to the conclusion that we need to build the bridge; we need to learn to connect.
We spend so much time trying to make those who are different than us fit into our holes; maybe we need to learn to fit into theirs a little more.
I want my son’s magical, happy little world to always be there. I don’t ever want to take away his wonder in life for a few more IQ points. I want his wonder to last forever.
That is the least I can do for him. After all, he is my muse, my inspiration, and he doesn’t even know it.
When my son hears a fire truck, he stops dead in his tracks. He is completely frozen in time. So mesmerized by the whooping and swirling sounds coming from afar. He is in wonder and full of joy from a sound. A simple sound fills his entire soul.
When was the last time you stopped to smile at the sound of a fire engine? Have you looked up at the sky lately and sat in awe of the amazing shapes the clouds make? Do you still remember how good it felt to collect smelly stickers and put them in your album to save for the rest of your life? When was the last time a sound filled your soul?
Where can you find your wonder again?
Rachel Pastiloff is an author, yoga teacher, amateur chef, special needs advocate, and mother living in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two sons. In 2009, Rachel’s oldest son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome, with a diagnosis of autism to follow. The diagnosis was traumatic and forever altered the course of her life. Rachel has made it her mission to educate the world about children who have special needs and their parents and caregivers. For more on Rachel visit her blog or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
*Photo by craig.letourneau.photography.November 14, 2012