The Beauty of Belonging

Have you ever been in a room with total strangers and still felt more relaxed and comfortable than with people you know?

It happened to me on Thursday.  I took my son to his therapy session at the center and as soon as we pulled into the parking lot there was just a peace that came over both of us.

As we entered the building I didn’t have to hastily grab his hand so he couldn’t run back out the door.  He talked to and counted the fishies in the tank as I checked in at reception.  The nice lady told us to follow the green feet to our waiting area and my son took her at her word.  His head was down as he bounced from footprint to footprint, almost crashing into people a few times…but here’s where a good morning turned great.

Those people he almost crashed into?  They smiled at him…and me!

They didn’t frown at him with a “careful there, kid” actually aimed at me.  They didn’t cast judgmental glances at either of us.  They didn’t offer me advice on how to discipline my son.  They just smiled and said, “Good morning.”

In the waiting area were two other mothers with their sons.  We exchanged greetings and smiles and turned our attention back to our boys. It seems pretty normal, maybe even a bit rude to not engage in a bit of small talk; but it was wonderfully freeing.

My son loves to bolt away on me and those who know me well know that if we’re out and about I will maintain a conversation with them to the best of my ability, but I will constantly be scanning to make sure he is still nearby and safe.

The situation was the same on Thursday, but I didn’t have to explain myself.  One of the other moms was sticking very close to her boy to make sure he didn’t end up on top of a toy about to jump off.  Mom number 3 was watching her much younger son pull himself up on the furniture and take a few steps.  Her hands were constantly ready to shield his head from bumps with his very frequent falls.

None of us demanded explanations.  None of us shot the glance that told each other to lighten up.  None of us asked, “So what’s wrong with your kid?” (yes, people do that).

As the littlest boy hung on to the big round coffee table for dear life, my boy walked around it tracing the edge with his finger.  As he got close to the little one his mom looked at me before I could even tell my boy to be careful or go the other way and said, “It’s okay, they can just work around each other.”

And they did.

It was that exact moment that my heart soared as I realized that this is our tribe.  These people with similar circumstances asked nothing of us by way of explanation.  We all just got each other.

If you have a child with special needs, you know how beautiful these moments are.  Moments where they can be themselves and not a label or diagnosis.

I had coffee with a friend this morning.  This particular friend has been one of my son’s favourite people since day one and continues to be so.

She is another one who just allows him to be who he is and she embraces his uniqueness without trying to “fix” him.  She also doesn’t let him get away with bad behaviour on her watch because she knows that he knows better (just like every other kid out there who tests boundaries).

These beautiful moments pop up from time to time and I thank God for each and every one of them!

On Valentine’s Day I dropped all 3 kids off at the free babysitting night that a church in town put on as a gift to parents.  When I went to pick up the kids, I had a brief conversation with one of the supervisors who also knows my kids from daycare.  She mentioned that during the movie my son was walking back and forth under the screen but she made sure that none of the other supervisors tried to pull him down as that was just his way.  He wasn’t being loud or disruptive, he was just doing his own thing.

In our church, basically every Sunday, most of the people will keep a subconscious eye out for my son.  They do this because they know that he is a runner and chances are that at any given moment me or my husband will come looking for him.  Without us saying a word, we often get a, “He went that way.”.

These moments make my heart smile.  These moments sustain me through the more difficult moments.  These moments remind me that God is good and that He cares about us and that my son will be okay.

These moments are a gift and I cherish each and every one.

 

Wendy

Author: Wendy Mehrer

I am the wife of a patient husband and the mother of 3 happy little kids. I home school our oldest child, work part-time outside of the home and full-time in it! I love coffee, reading, writing and I’m learning to love exercise.

4 thoughts on “The Beauty of Belonging”

  1. Great post! It’s refreshing to hear from someone who understands. I homeschooled all 3 of our children up until this (2015-2016) school year.

    Our youngest has autism, as well as a rare digestive disease called eosinophilic enteropathy, as well as other special needs. He’s 12.

    This year we began attending an alternative school named “ORLA” in Olympia, Wa. Basically, it’s a free, public, school for homeschoolers. Homeschoolers can take classes (like choir, or science in a lab) that are difficult to provide at home. They also have academic classes available for those who want them.

    Our older 2 kids go to classes for academics, while my 12 year old does “Time 4 Learning” for academics, and attends social skills classes. When isn’t in class, or doing homeschool stuff, I can take him out to the school’s playground to play with friends. He eats meals with friends there (they all choose to crowd around a table with me)!

    This is the first time that our son (the one who has autism) has had more than one friend. He’s still getting used to talking to more than one friend at a time. It’s great to see him surrounded by a bunch of little guys, all excited to discuss dragons (or whatever) with someone who’s actually interested in their topic of interest!!

    It is an incredible environment. The school goes from preschool through highschool. If a family has a homeschooler under 12 (or who doesn’t do well without you there), the parent has to remain on campus. Some parents of older kids just stay there because they like being involved in their kids’ life. (My teenagers’ friends actually initiate conversations with me! There are parents, babies, toddlers, and high schoolers all over the place there.

    There are many kids on the spectrum there, along with many who just don’t fit into the mold set up by regular schools. The majority of the kids are “typical”, yet differences are embraced; not feared or ridiculed. As parents of kids with special needs, we “get” each other. Even parents of typical kids respect everyone’s journey.

    I guess I’m just excited that there are parent partnerships, as well as other alternative schools out there as options for homeschoolers. It gives me hope that, at least in some places, kids with autism are truly accepted, not just tolerated. There’s a big difference.

    I also have a blog (4fuzzybears.com). My vision for it is to be a place where parents can go to give and receive information, tips, and support. I’d love it if you, a fellow blogger, would check it out.

    Thanks for your hard work; you are making a difference!

    1. Thank you SO much for your comment! I am encouraged and blessed by this!

      It is wonderful to hear from people who are blazing the trail for others like myself – a wonderful reminder that the hard things can be done.

      I love your words, “many who just don’t fit into the mold set up by regular schools.” – there is no mold for those on the spectrum and yet so many people expect our children to fit into one. This reminds me of a biggest reason why we have made the choice to homeschool.

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