I love my kids. I try hard, really hard, to not compare them. My oldest is 16 and we wonder if his brain is connected sometimes. Our favorite moments are when our youngest, who is 12 and on the Autism Spectrum, grasps something before him. She will walk over to him and try to explain it to him in the least patient voice. She tries to tap him on the forehead. She gets annoyed with him. He gets annoyed with her and she walks away and then it hits him and he goes “oh” and laughs at himself. To which, often she will roll her eyes.
As parents, we often have those moments where we face palm our foreheads and want to look at our kids and say, “Hello? Welcome to planet Earth!” It doesn’t matter if our kids are on or off the Autism Spectrum. In our house, we’ve been known to shake our head and wonder about them, “What rock have you been living under?” Then we either drop it or continue with a conversation regarding the “missed obvious”.
As a parent with a child on the spectrum, I have to admit that it differs from the moments we have with our child that is not on the spectrum. With our son, we don’t hide the humor in his missed moments. He knows how to laugh at himself and usually after the “oh gosh, how did I miss that?” He even laughs about it. He gets why we face palm our foreheads and chuckle. He has a unique sense of humor but knows how to laugh off the missed links.
Our daughter on the other hand is a different story. The face palms are done mentally. It’s in how you scrunch the forehead while you hold back the comments or rub the temples. It’s about how you wrinkle the nose and have your eyes closed so tight they look pinched. It’s in the way you bite your bottom lip holding in a chuckle. Yeah, we are talking about THOSE moments. In addition to that, the welcome to planet earth is a little less like a “doh” moment and more like a “Hurray! Progress made!” moment. It’s the discovery of the obvious to us but not to her.
You don’t want offend anyone but you know those moments. It’s where you have seen this child miss this connection over and over again, and when they start to connect the dots and you see their face light up that warms your heart. That moment is when you start to want to act like a teenager cheering that spark until it is a fire. It starts in the eyes. You have seen the wheels turning and turning and the click. That click moment is joyous. The connection brings hope. Even if that connection is something as simple as this box controls that thing over there that the pictures comes on.
Then you want to share these anecdotes with people. It’s hard to share them sometimes. You are elated about something so simple in some people’s eyes that they don’t see the humor or irony. You try to convey all the emotions and details you can in it. And when you are telling to people that don’t interact with individuals like your child in these situations that you keep explaining, going into more and more details. It gets to the point that you feel like you have to say at the end, “I guess you had to be there.” Sometimes, frustrated and saddened by others not understanding your enthusiasm and joy. Sometimes, diminishing the joy you just wanted to share.
Here’s my advice to all parents. These anecdotes and stories make life interesting. Don’t stop sharing them. Not everyone is going to get the joy in some of them. Not everyone will find the humor in them. There will be those that get it and welcome your children to planet Earth with open arms and share your face palms and giggles and joy.
After all, life is too short to be serious all the time.