Today I took my girl, my sixteen year old junior with the 4.5 GPA, on her first college tour. It was a two and a half hour drive away. My spectrum kiddo traveled with us since we were meeting some family friends as well. The day was great, the campus was quiet and sweet and as we began to wrap up our day, I said to my spectrum kiddo:
“Thanks for having a ‘roll with it’ attitude today. You were really wonderful.”
Wait a cotton pickin’ second.
Did I just say that? Really? To my boy?
Back up the bus!
And that’s when I had to take a deep breath…because I realized I was speaking to my spectrum kiddo. The same kiddo who, for a decade, “rolled” along with VERY little and went a long with nothing that did not suit him to a “t”. The same kiddo who prepped for road trips by packing his special blanket, special baby, specific snacks and drinks as well as a back pack full of toys, handheld electronics, games, movies and the kitchen sink if necessary to keep him occupied and content.
WOWZA. I had to take another deep breath just to be sure I was not dreaming.
Today was no ordinary day, my friends.
Today, there were no movies for the trip.
no bag-o-toys to keep him entertained.
No kitchen sink.
Today we traveled without accessories.
Today we flew by the seat of our spectrum pants.
We used the window of our car as our entertainment on the drive. As we toured this college campus without any handheld electronics or snacks to soothe the boy, he WALKED…without so much as muttering his displeasure. He joined us on our informal walking tour without complaint…ALL around the campus that sprawls many acres/miles. And when it was time for lunch, we did not cater to him but rather we *gasp* had his sister’s favorite…sushi! NOT his happy place of pizza, chicken strips or PB sandwich. When he made a face at hearing sushi, I reminded him that we always make it work and find him something he can eat. Instead of complaining, he smiled and said, “Wow, you’re right, mom.” And it was true because even the sushi restaurant had teriyaki chicken and rice and dumplings. And in the used bookstore with the musty smell that soaked the air, my smell-sensitive boy never complained once. Instead, he found a corner with comic books and lost himself in at least a dozen books. We actually had to pull him out of the smell ridden treasure chest when it was time to leave.
Autism grows, it changes, it moves, it matures and becomes even more brilliant than you think is possible and, as a parent, you take a deep breath because, for a moment, you realize you forgot how much autism can surprise you and how much one boy can change and how much you can be shocked by what fourteen looks like on that same boy. More different than you could have ever predicted when he was three and the powers that be said he couldn’t and he wouldn’t….and yet he can and he did and he IS so much more than any paper could EVER begin to measure <3. Autism is sparkly like that!
Sparkle On, my friends ❤