I have come a long way in my ability to laugh at myself and my life. While I can still be quite hard on myself, and while my son does still occasionally accuse me of being too serious, (Mommy I was just playing!), I have quite consciously practiced riding the waves and enjoying the ride. I still forget, often, but am quite fortunate to have two little beings to remind me.
Take, as an example, this weekend. Our daughter has both Autism and AD/HD. It’s tough to watch our little girl have to work so hard to take part in life “with” others. She is prone to distraction and disengagement, and we often simply wish life were easier for her. We’re doing what we can to help, which in part means not doing for her what she can do (or almost do) for herself. “Honey, please get into your PJs and brush your teeth,” Natacha asks, and off our little girl runs to her bedroom, pulling her shirt off over her head as she stumbles, shirt blocking her sight. A couple of minutes later, I pass the bathroom to find her. “Honey, what are you doing?” Natacha answers for her from the kitchen, “She’s brushing her teeth!”
“Yes, she is.”
“On the toilet.”
Two days later, I’m still laughing. The thing is, she was following directions! She, just, well, got a little distracted after taking off her clothes and before putting PJs on. Natacha was playing music in the kitchen, which would naturally inspire her to dance, and she does have the best view of her pearly whites when standing on the toilet. Maybe we’ll teach her to put the lid down to make dancing on it a little safer.
Honestly, more of our lives are spent on this lighter side. Our lives are more full of joy, light, humor, and playfulness when we can remember that.
Take her love of counting. Well, if you want to play hide-and-go-seek, you are guaranteed a partner who doesn’t mind always being “it” if she gets to count to 20 over and over. Forgot lyrics to a song? Don’t despair, if it’s been on top 40, Dora, WonderPets, Yo-Gabba-Gabba, sung in school or is a Christmas Carol just sing what you know, my little girl will finish the refrain for you. If it’s bedtime, she’ll even do it with a mic and guitar. Need to practice a new dance lift, or simply do a few sets of lifts because you missed the gym today? She’s got you covered. She’ll dance in the kitchen to any of the aforementioned genre’s and will let you lift her up as many times as your arms can handle. To add to the joy, she’ll do it with the best smile you’ve ever seen.
She can simultaneously play the cups and sing the lyrics to “When I’m Gone.” Because it means so much to her, the whole family has learned (the cups OR the lyrics, only she can pull them both off).
There are also tickle-wars and pancake smooshes. While she and her brother enjoy tickle quality time that is as precious to us as anything, we relish in their dueling giggle-fits. To end every day, someone becomes a pancake under a pile of Kerelejza’s. What day is complete without it? The sensory pressure is just what she needs to wind down after another day when the world expects her to participate and be attentive in ways that are so hard for her. The cuddles are just what we all need to remember that no matter what our struggles and difficulties, in this house, we are cherished, as is.