You know THAT kid?
The one who looks way too old to be throwing that kind of temper tantrum in the middle of the towel aisle at Target. THAT kid who throws mulch at kids on the playground, repeatedly. THAT kid who says too many ‘potty words.’ THAT kid who pushes too hard. THAT kid who is screaming at the top of his lungs in a restaurant. THAT kid who tries to punch a stranger for saying, “Hello!” THAT kid who you tell your kids to stay away from because you don’t want his behavior to rub off.
You think you know THAT kid, but you don’t.
You don’t know how many hours that kid’s mom has spent in waiting rooms, with pediatric therapists, researching diets, and reading about behavior modification. You don’t know that that kid’s dad has missed days of work, given years of sponge baths, and perfected the ‘squeezy hug’ calming method. You don’t know the feeling of bursting pride when you see that kid greet his therapist with a hug, and the agony of defeat when he spits on her just moments later. You don’t know what it feels like to watch that kid miss out on parties, rides at Disney World, play dates, story times and movies because he “can’t make it stop”—whatever the current “it” is.
You don’t know that that kid was the most mellow, smiley baby until he got a virus at seven weeks old that seemed to change everything about his personality. You don’t know that that little guy would snuggle in a chair all day, cocooned in his much-loved blankie, if he didn’t have to face the world. You don’t know that that kid is the first to notice if an animal is scared, and the first to offer his beloved blankie to help comfort that sweet being. You don’t know that that little boy is so incredibly gentle with babies, noticing every adorable detail. You don’t know that that kid starts every single day by asking his mommy how she slept the night before. You don’t know that that kid shares his treats, and doesn’t even request you take a bite. You don’t know that that kid loves to cook—breakfast is his specialty. You don’t know that that kid knows he can’t quite make himself fit into the world, but doesn’t know how to fix it.
You don’t know how fiercely you can love a little person.
I know all of that and more. I know it because THAT kid is MY kid. He is my son. And don’t you forget it.
Related post: My Son Has Autism, and That’s Okay