I had a wonderful and unexpected moment the other afternoon with Michael. We had had a string of challenging days, but this particular day was turning out to be a good one. He was listening without defiance, we were talking and laughing, and eating a tasty lunch. I had given Michael some broccoli or green beans to eat with his lunch of hard boiled eggs and soup. I was having the same thing with raw orange peppers. I was chomping away on my peppers, when all of a sudden Michael spoke:
“Mommy, can I smell one of your pepper pieces?”
Surprised, I nodded and gave it to him. He gazed thoughtfully at it then said.
“I used to eat raw peppers when I was a baby, right Mommy?”
I smiled. “Yes. You loved red and orange particularly, but you even ate green. And tomotoes. Then you stopped liking them.” It was around two years old when the signs of autism really started coming out. His sensory issues became more prominent then and I’m sure affected his food preferences. Figuring I was being too pushy but not being able to help it, I added that. Then in shock I watched and heard him say:
“I’m going to try this pepper now.”
And calmly, without incident he ate the pepper and made a yum face. A yum face Moms and Dads! This kind of face is usually reserved for chips and pizza!
“This is good Mommy. Can I have some more?”
I almost tripped going to the fridge to get him more peppers, though of course I played it cool and walked calmly. Amazing. When emotionally I feel like we’ve been in a battlefield for everything, I get this beautiful moment. I laughed on the inside. Kids. All kids are like this to some degree, but with Exceptional ones like Michael these surprises really make you stop and think about milestones, victories you wouldn’t normally think of celebrating, but with special kids you celebrate because it is so unexpected. I felt the same way the first time he read a word to me, wrote his name all crocked. Even now as I see him struggle with handwriting, I want to bear hug him every time he forms a letter. I can see the struggle and what it takes for him to accomplish it. Getting dressed is like that too, holding a pen. I am so proud of him when he tries hard. Yesterday we started to have a fight, and then again he did it. He sat down and started deep breathing to calm down. I let him be, he apologized for yelling and not listening to me, and we moved forward. We had another great night! So nice when we as parents have these moments and see what our kids are capable of.
Exceptional Parents, what crunchy vegetables or deep breathing moments have you had with your Exceptional Children? Do you keep track of all the positive moments? They are more important than the negative ones in the long run, for they help us remember how far our kids have come and how far they will go. They also help us keep striving to do our best as parents and individuals. Never stop believing that anything is possible, even in the midst of rough times. Until next time.