Finding Common Ground


Back when Wil was younger, I’d look at kids that would take off running across the playground. Wil would take off running with them as fast as he could, but he would instantly fall far behind. That’s a tough thing for a mom to see knowing that not only will he not catch up, but likely fall further behind. I’d see the kids laughing and talking back and forth, and Wil would be laughing, too, because they were, but clearly he had no idea what they were saying. I would wonder, what is it going to be like as he gets older? How will he communicate? Will people stop to listen? Everyone has something to say, no matter how long it takes us to say it. How will he find common ground in a world that moves so fast?

And, then, as if in answer, there were always those friends that would stop and turn around to see where Wil was. They would run back toward him, grab his hands and say, “Come on, Wil!” And I would watch with tears in my eyes, immensely thankful for the different gifts Wil and his friends give to each other.

Every school year we start anew. My eyes are keen for the kids that stop in their fast play. The kids that slow down and talk to Wil. The kids that look him right in the eye and ask him a question and wait for as long as it takes for him to answer. Kids that sit with him at the lunch table while the others have gone off to the playground. And when Wil is on the playground, the kids that stop their fast-moving game and include Wil at a level that he can play. The kids that Wil gives a high-five when we meet in town. The kids that Wil runs up to and hugs. The kids that immediately see Wil and come running over. Without fail, all of these interactions are met with a hug, a smile, and many times laughing and silliness ensues. Ask any one of them, and they’d all say it’s worth the wait.

Potty-training for Wil took 2.5 loooong years. Wil was in the middle of Kindergarten when he finally decided that the potty was a good choice. But, with Wil, you can’t force time. You can help him along, give him the tools, but he is the one who ultimately decides when he will use those tools and how he will use them. Back when I began the process of potty-training with Wil, and mind you I went to a seminar our Ds support group put on about potty-training kids with disabilities, bought the book, read and followed the book, and had many talks during this process with fellow moms in our Ds support group (we laughed how we never had so much potty talk in our lives before having kids with Ds!), he remained happy to take care of business just about anywhere, anytime. During all of this, my parents were going to watch Wil for the weekend while Matt and I went up north with the twins. My mom was joking with a friend about my adventures in potty-training. This friend told my parents that I was likely too busy to potty-train Wil with his twin sisters being so close in age to him and that was what was taking so long (grrrr!). My mom shared this with me and said that she would try to potty-train Wil over the weekend for me. After I stopped silently chuckling to myself, I thought, you know, what the heck! Give it a go (pun intended). While I didn’t like this friend’s assumptions, I wouldn’t put it past my mom to work miracles. Like when I told my mom the kids will definitely not eat broccoli, by the end of the day my mom had Elizabeth at least tolerating broccoli while Katherine and Wil were now proclaiming broccoli their favorite food. So I said, “Great! Have at it!”

A few hours into the start of their potty-training weekend my mom phoned me, laughing and proclaimed, “I call Uncle!”

Some things take time. They just do. Not everyone is going to understand that process, and sometimes we may not even understand the process ourselves. We all have our own paths to walk at our own paces. But, at least by stopping every once in awhile, we can get to know each other a little better. Taking a moment to find common ground, create a little understanding, share a smile, toss up a high-five, form a bond, and maybe even a lasting friendship. In the end, when we look back, we’ll see those are the parts of life that were always worth the wait.

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