Today, my friends, I innocently went to the movies and wound up gobsmacked by life and happenstance. This really sweet moment snuck right up on me in the popcorn line and it left my mouth hanging wide open and my heart melting.
My spectrum kiddo and I had us a little date. Something we have actually never done before. He could have cared less but mom thought it was pretty sweet and the boy made no bones about cringing when I told him so. His little brother had already watched the movie with a friend and his big sister wanted nothing to do with Man of Steel.
Anyway, we walked into the theater and my boy, as usual, went off to look at the movie posters while I bought popcorn and icees. I walked up to the counter and the young boy in front of me turns right around and immediately begins to speak to me. I have no idea who he is and it’s even more surprising since we are not in the area of town where we live. We go to a movie theater that is downtown and off the beaten path because it is independently owned and I really like the popcorn :). The boy is as tall as me so I assume he is anywhere from seventh grade to ninth? Anyway, sweet kid. He asks me what we are seeing. Tells me he is seeing Monsters U and that he missed the movie on Friday with his friends because it was sold out. We have this very lovely conversation and I’m wondering what’s up with this sweet and cute kid who is being oh so well mannered and kind and is not even with an adult. And then the gobsmack hits hard when, during our conversation, he asks me about my boy but the crazy thing is, he calls my son by name.
HUH? I think to myself but do not say out loud. What I do say is, “You know my son?”
“Yeah,” he tells me, “I was an eighth grader this year and we have P.E. together.” My boy was only in seventh. This was on of the “upper classmen.” as we used to call them.
“You’re in P.E. with him?”
“Yeah.” He is polite but must be thinking…didn’t I just tell her that? But in my heart I repeat it so I can hear it again because it is slowly settling in to my memory that this is one of those kiddos. As I look as this handsome boy in front of me in the popcorn line, I realize this is one of the boys who had my spectrum kiddo’s back. This is on of the boys who helped him to make his time when he ran that “ONE UNSTOPPABLE MILE.” (If you have not read about that miracle of a day, here is the link http://autismsparkles.com/one-simple-and-unstoppable-mile/)
I try not to let the tears well up while he is speaking to me because I do not want to scare a young child but it is hard because I was only told the story of the kids who stepped up to help my boy that day but I did not meet them. My boy is independent now so I don’t spend my days on campus anymore watching out for him, supporting him, anticipating trouble. But, this year, the kids in his P.E. class did just that and THIS BOY is one of them. Right before my very eyes.
I gather myself and say, “So you are one of the students that helped him run his mile?”
He simply says, “Yes.”
I want to say more, I am gathering my thoughts, but the cashier interrupts and asks who is next so we part. I quickly ask, “What high school will you be at next year?” because I want him to be at ours because he likes my boy and he is a kind soul. I won’t say the name of the school he answers with but it IS ours so, while my heart is jumping inside of me, I smile some more on the outside and calmly tell him we’ll see him in two years.
And I walk away utterly gobsmacked because autism is like that. Autism, in our life, was never supposed to be like this. We were not supposed to be here, in this good place. Middle school was supposed to be full of horribly awful stuff, kids were supposed to be mean and the reports were clear that mainstream would not be for us. And I am barely containing my tears because I realize that so much of my worrying was utterly wasteful. Here is MY BOY, my spectrum kiddo and he is okie dokie and even though he is quirky and his speech is still choppy and his words sometimes off subject, he is liked by his peers. AND, he is more than tolerated because they even look out for him. If you have yet to read, One Unstoppable Mile and you need a smile, stop on over and see what kids can do when a champion of a teacher walks the talk and sets a worthy example.
Different has been a harder road, no doubt, and it has had it’s fair share of troubles, bumps and strains but, on days like this, I can say with a full heart, that it has been worth every stumble and every set back. Autism is a journey. Autism is littered with some set backs and tears too. But autism is also full of gobsmacking moments when you realize your journey on the spectrum has lifted a rare curtain and allowed you to witness greatness like you could never have imagined. Sweet greatness like few have ever have the privilege of being present for. Those fleeting moments of sparkle. That is why I love autism. Not because it’s easy and certainly not because it’s hard and frustrating but because it gives you glimpses of greatness that, prior to it’s entrance into your life, you never even imagined exist. Right there in the popcorn line, of all places, sparkles just rise on up and gobsmack you in the face like only autism can and I am thankful that the 1 in 88 is mine. How lucky am I?
Yep, it’s worth it….every. single. day. …and I will NEVER underestimate the popcorn line again..EVER. Sparkle On, my friends!