We lay in bed. Garret on my right, Morgan on my left. The room is dark. A curtain is drawn. A ray of light from the slats of bamboo seep through. Morgan laughs, murmurs. Garret hums, sings. I am quiet, lost in my own thoughts.
"When we talk, she looks at me and she listens, " the mother said. She was talking about her little girl. Her child will be in preschool this June.
"That's great!" I said. "Let's try to lengthen those 'talk times' you have with your child." I explained to her how she need not read a story from a book to spend time with her. She needed only to engage her child in conversation about whatever she wants to talk about. Take what happened in her day, for example. Just 30 minutes a day, I told her. Just try it for a week, I continued to encourage her.
My day job consists of talking to parents of neuro-typical or "normal" children, telling them to spend time with their child. My task, one of many is to "remind" them of what needs to be done to further their child's growth in school. But really, when I think about it, I see myself simply as a parent having a dialogue with other parents.
The irony of my life does not elude me, I always say. Then again, the irony of my life becomes the role I play, the calling I have been born to heed to in this life.
And while I acknowledge this, at night when I come home and see my boys, when we lay in bed, Garret on my right, Morgan on my left, and the room is dark, when a ray of light from the slats of bamboo seep through, when Morgan murmurs and laugh, when Garret sings and hums and I am quiet, lost in my own thoughts, there is a tug in my heart. And I allow myself to feel the tug, the hurt. What hurt? The hurt that I have to tell parents what they have. The hurt that I don't get to decide for them. The hurt that I only get to show them what they do have. The hurt that no matter what gift I know I have been blessed with in the persons of my two boys who have autism, I still long to have what they have, the gift of conversation with my boys.
They said, over time, it gets better. Or that I get better with this living with autism. Maybe, maybe not. One thing is true though, I have been called to bespeak a role. A role just like any other parent in this world-- Love. Love is the calling I have been born to heed to. And what clearer form of love than to converse, to give attention and to be present.
"Everything changed the day I figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in m life." -Brian Andreas