I have a For Sale sign taped to the inside of the passenger window of my truck. Wil was home sick from school with a wheezy cough, so we were headed to the doctor. With his sisters in school, he excitedly opened the passenger door for the coveted front seat. He looked up at the For Sale sign taped to the window. With just enough sunlight to make the sign transparent, he read through the back of it; he said out loud, “Miles.”
“Hey, Mom! I see Wil upside down!” I looked over and saw it. There it was, plain as day in bold black Sharpie. “Wil” is in fact, the first three letters of the word “Miles” upside down.
And that is pretty much what Wil does to my perspective every single day. What I see as very common-stance and ordinary stands out as something new, creative and fun to Wil. And thankfully he shares his perspective with me so I may too, see that the only thing that’s ordinary in this life is our perspective. He can make magic out of just about anything.
As a 49-year-old adult, I’m prone to routines. Especially being married with 3 kids, a job, volunteer work, and working out, I am consistently fine-tuning and seeking new ways to streamline my schedule so I can do all the things I choose to do in a day. The side effect to this, for me anyway, is I can get task-focused and forget to see what is around me (that may be why I enjoy running and swimming so much, it’s my time to unplug and be in the moment). If I don’t make an intentional choice to be present, I easily become focused on what is ahead over what is right now.
Wil is rarely, if ever, is directly on task. This fact can be quite frustrating if you are in a hurry. Anyone who has lived or has spent lots of time with a loved one with Down syndrome knows what I mean. Hurry is simply not in the vocabulary. Whenever possible, I always add in a 10-15 minute buffer when we have somewhere to go because there always seems to be a delay of some sort (unless he doesn’t want to be somewhere, then he can find an exit and be gone before you’ve blinked). Wil knows he’s not very fast and it’s even become a bit of a joke around our household. Wil’s very particular about what hat he wears each day. Occasionally, Wil decides to change his hat just as it’s time to go out the door. So I’ll say, “Ok, Wil, go get your hat, quick like a rabbit!” And he’ll laugh and say with very slow, exaggerated steps, “Ok, Mom, sloooooow liiiike a tortoise.” 🙂
At the school circle drop-off, there is a 7-second rule. Kids are supposed to exit the car in 7 seconds and then the driver rolls away so the next car in line can pull up. This keeps the circle moving smoothly and efficiently. Even with our best efforts, 7 seconds is not realistic for us, so most days we park and walk up to the school. Some days Wil wants to be dropped off at circle, so we do the best we can. I know some parents have seen us go around the circle 3 times because Wil isn’t quite ready. We all have our “3 circle days.” Just the other day, he wanted to be dropped off at circle, but “Boys ‘Round Here” came on the radio. He loves that song! It was still playing as we pulled up to the drop-off and there was no way he was getting out until the song was over. So around we went, but the song was still playing on the 2nd round. So I ended up pulling into a parking spot as we jammed to Blake Shelton singing to the end. When the song was over, I rolled back into the circle line and Wil made a successful exit in what I’d guess was maybe 12 seconds. That’s rabbit time for us! That may have been our 3rd time around but Blake Shelton gave both of us a happy lift to the morning.
That’s how it is for us. It takes us a few extra laps around the circle. Someone else’s tortoise pace is our rabbit pace. And we celebrate that. Sometimes I think it would do us all a world of good to take an extra few laps around the circle every once in a while until we felt good about the day ahead. This world moves fast and we all move fast with it. We value the rabbit over the tortoise as the years pass and our lives get busier. We hardly stop to listen to a song all the way to the end, or take time to read a sign in it’s entirety, let alone take a moment to view it upside down.
We zoom through life waiting for life to “happen” to us, rather than “happening” to life by approaching it in a new way. Shifting our view, or taking another circle around can change everything. When Wil looks at something in a new way and shares it with me, I’m always left with a feeling a vitality for life. It’s like this little secret to joy that’s been unlocked right in front of me. All these little pieces of magic, right here, right now, to discover every single day. I’m thankful for Wil’s reminders of this fact, as many times as I might need them.