You noticed me, all those months ago. The mom of the kid who refuses to wear the Gi (required karate uniform). You reached out to me. You talked to me when no one else did. You tried to help me strategize when the weather turned cold and my son refused to wear pants instead of shorts. I so appreciated all of your suggestions, even though I had already tried many of them. You even tried to talk to my son one day when he was struggling. Except, he pulled his “ostrich act” and looked away and ignored you so that he would disappear.
You watched as my son grew increasingly more comfortable at the dojo. A win for him except that running around and flapping prior to class while others are practicing is not acceptable. You watched me try to reign him in, week after week. Maybe you were there the day I tried to cajole, bribe, and force him into the uniform leaving him screaming and tear streaked on the floor. Or perhaps you saw me the day he became so angry and physically aggressive with me after class that I had to physically restrain him, lest his aggression hurt someone other than me in the crowded waiting room. I disguised it as a bear hug until the crowd thinned out enough so that I could make an escape and let him rage safely in our car. I still have the bruises from that one.
And then, today happened. My son, unaware or unconcerned with his flailing appendages, knocked your son, hard, square in the eye. As your son cried, mine didn’t apologize or check to see if he was okay. Instead, he flopped on the floor like a dead fish. You comforted your son and sent him back into class. You watched as ten minutes in, I tensely pulled my son out of class as he danced, spun, and flailed his way through the moves that I know he knows how to do. Luckily, my mom was present so I could send him out to the car with her while his brothers finished the class. Afterwards, I sought you out to apologize for my son’s behavior.
“It’s okay,” you said, in a voice that clearly indicated that it wasn’t okay.
“It’s not and I’m sorry,” was my reply.
Then, I sat down to wait to talk to the Shihan about pulling my son from the class it was becoming clear he could no longer behave appropriately for.
Perhaps you saw that tear slide down my cheek.
I’m not sure what you said to me. But you hugged me. A hug I certainly didn’t deserve after what my son did to your son. But you hugged me again. And then you told me it was going to be okay.
You’re right. It is going to be okay.
Some days, like today, I break.
But every night, I pray to God to help me be the parent my child needs.
And every morning, I get up and try my best to be that mom.
While I don’t wish for my son to be neurotypical — I love that kid just the way he is with a ferocity that I know you understand — I do wish to give him the tools and strategies he needs to function in a neurotypical world. That is my goal. Every. Single. Day.
Thank you for that hug on this broken day. I really needed it.