Last night my neighbor came over to deliver some squash and zucchini from her garden. Wil was sitting in the Lazy-boy watching Wild Kratts. He’d been to the pool, then outside playing, and had just finished eating dinner. He was chillin’.
My neighbor, Nancy, asked him some questions. He didn’t want to answer. Nancy takes Wil to the Dollar Store on a weekly basis to help him with life skills. She also has an adult son with autism. She understands how these situations can go. Wil kept making “umf” responses. “Well, I guess I am interrupting his TV show,” she said. “See you tomorrow, Wil.” As soon as she left Wil said, “Dollar Store with Nancy tomorrow.”
As simple as this moment in time seems, it was not to me. First of all, Nancy understood Wil. She urged words out of him, but didn’t force them or give up, either. She took time to understand the situation. And many times, as simple as that sounds, it’s not so simple when you don’t understand.
I wrote recently about Wil having a melt-down at my parent’s house. My sister and her kids were visiting, staying with my parent’s. Wil wanted to spend the night after a day of playing. It was not a good scene and all of us were exhausted afterwards.
The next day, going back to my parent’s to visit, we discussed the incident. My sister said her daughter’s friend works at a camp for kids with disabilities. This friend said it is helpful to anticipate what is going to happen. I sat there speechless. In my mind, my ego responded first. A 16-year-old girl who spent a summer with kids with disabilities knows more than I do? Puh-lease! My next thought was that I live in anticipation. Every single day, even for the simplest of tasks. Just going to the store might take an extra half-hour because Wil gets stuck on what hat he wants. Or he simply refuses to go. I’m always planning ahead for whenever and whatever. That is my norm, as well as the norm for Katherine and Elizabeth. Then I realized she just doesn’t know. She is trying to help. She lives 5 hours away and sees Wil about twice a year.
And that’s what it mainly comes down to. People aren’t trying to hurt, they just don’t know. They aren’t trying to be mean, but our egos kick in because we live this every day. Its easy to get defensive rather than inform. Every single moment is a teaching moment in our lives; not only with our kids, but for the world that surrounds us.