A friend of mine shared this personal story with me and I thought it really was amazing. She gave me permission to share this with all of you here. We all have those defeated days. Those days were we just feel so frustrated, overwhelmed, heartbroken and exhausted. It’s these times that can remind us of what really matters in life. Jillian had one of these experiences recently and I thought this was really a great story to share.
This is one of my most favorite things I have read in a while. I can totally relate to how she was feeling as I have been there myself.
Jillian is thinking about starting a blog to share their story and I think that would be a really good idea. I also say that at the end of the day, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. This is a perfect example of this.
How many of you can relate to this? I surely can…..
“Epic” Zoo Trip
-by Jillian (not sure if she wants her last name mentioned)
Saturday, my husband Matt and I took London to the zoo for a birthday trip so we could be a family and enjoy the fun animals, go on the train and take some pictures of London. London will be 3 next week.
I was so excited because we had takenLondonto the zoo before his second birthday and he didn’t even know we were at the zoo and didn’t notice any of the animals. He was just content to be held by my husband Matt and to walk around. The animals didn’t exist to him; we would point them out and he just would look right through them. We would literally move his body and head so he would see the animals. We would crane his neck and mold him into place so he could get the best view. Nothing. This year was going to be different … or was it?
The first time we went to the zoo, London was more excited about the rocky texture of the round trash bins then he was about anything else. He would just stand in front of the trash bins and rub his hands on them and smile. Many parents with their “normal” children would walk by and I was mortified by their stares. We were at the ZOO – animals and water falls and snacks all around us. Music and walking paths and exhibits. We were at this exotic wonderland and the trash bin was all London wanted to see and touch and it broke me.
My husband Matt took out his bottle of bubbles (our transition tool) and started blowing them to get London away from the trash bins and children from everywhere darted to Matt like he was giving this great show. Like Matt was “The Bubble Man.” Parents looked at Matt like he was a complete freak; a pedophile luring children or some weirdo because he was literally alone blowing bubbles in a crowd of children. Our son didn’t notice the bubbles and Matt was stuck blowing bubbles for other children with onlookers and parents sneering. I was so flustered and upset, but Matt just kept his cool and let other children blow bubbles and have fun. I explained to others that we were trying to get our son to follow us and they nodded.
I joked (my defense mechanism) that we should have brought a hat for change. My husband is just the most amazing husband and father. I would go over to London and scoop him up to come see daddy blow the bubbles and he would screech, scream and cry and run back to the trash bin and start rubbing the rocky texture and smile in a daze.
This year was going to be different. Zoo Trip 2011 was going to be EPIC. Londonis diagnosed with Severe Autism, Londonhas seizures, Londonis non-verbal, Londonhas extreme texture sensitivity, Londonhas sensory processing disorder, Londonis sensitive, but in spite of all of these challenges, I as London’s all knowing and all seeing mother believed London was ready to go to the zoo and see the animals! London was going to see these animals and laugh and he was going to have a great time!London was going to “get it.”
London did not get it.Londonhad changed his trash bin obsession to the easel signs displaying the fact that the new trash bins are now solar powered. We had just gotten through the gate and London wiggled out of Matt’s arms and ran over to a sign and kneeled down in front of it and almost pressed his face up against it. He was riveted and enthralled. These signs were his rocky texture trash bin replacements.
London didn’t look at animals, London was more content to stand and look at the trash bin signs than anything else.
Then something magical happened. We went underground to the penguin viewing area and London did SEE the penguins. He was awakened, he was excited, he spoke eagerly in his little Ewok babble language and seemed over the moon about the penguins. He pressed his little face against the glass and visually tracked the penguins. He smiled. He was MY SON! “Way to go London!” My heart leapt; he SAW an animal and was enjoying himself. But as quickly as the moment came, the moment vanished and my glimmer of hope was gone again. London just got up as if nothing had happened, walked up the stairs and left.
My husband jogged after London and I just sat there. I started to tear up and feel sorry for myself… AGAIN. I internally kicked myself, why can’t I just be happy with 1 animal? It was better than the year before, right? 1 animal vs. rocky textured trash bin was a victory. I tried to conjure my inner Pollyanna, my inner ‘glass half full’ spirit and I realized how numb I have become. I looked deeply within and realized how easily I can be destroyed by my own petty expectations I put on our son.
The honestly flood gates opened: this zoo trip wasn’t for London. It was for me. I caught up to Matt and London and I looked at my husband, exhausted and sad, but wearing a smile- he was enduring this charade for me. He knew this was important to me and he knew that if he said anything to the contrary, I would get upset. He saw me and gave me a hug and it was just what I needed. A hug to know everything was ok and that I was ok, that I was forgiven for putting the whole family through this.
We all walked together over to the zoo train. We got into our little train car andLondonlet me hold him in my lap. He didn’t squirm or struggle or reach for my husband instead. My son let me hold him and he leaned back into me and just let me snuggle with him. He even held my hand. All of the penguins, signs and trash bins floated away and I melted.
This is what life is about: the rare and lovely moments that transform our unfair expectations into beautiful realities.
Forget the penguins and monkeys, giraffes and elephants, my son let me hold him and he held my hand. This was an EPIC zoo trip, indeed!
Enjoyed reading this. Needed it this week as it's a tough one, and it's only Tuesday!
Thank you, Jillian for the reminder to slow down. Sometimes eve those of us with NT kids need to be reminded that when EPIC failures seem to overwhelm there really are some EPICALLY AWESOME moments in what seems like a failure 😉