Both or Neither

There’s nothing like an end of year school program to feel like a card carrying parent…

At Grey’s typical preschool the kids have been practicing forever for their end of the year program. They are so adorable…  Grey’s Teacher shadow and I discussed it before hand and we were going to have Grey stand on the stage for Parker’s favorite song- Slippery Fish. I figured one song would be enough.

And it went down exactly like I expected…

It sucked… It was brutal…
It was all so sharp it stung… And I was sad- which I hadn’t expected…

He hated it. He hated every ounce and every second of it. He didn’t want to stand still, he didn’t want to do the gestures that went with the song. He wanted to climb and yell and throw a fit while he laid on the stage.

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Screw you, autism… They had a bench reserved for us in the front row and there I stood watching, paralyzed. I see Grey acting out- I see him hit his Teacher shadow. I cringe. I must help– I think –and I try to subtly climb on stage to see if he would be more coorporative for me. But there was no reaching Grey so I sat back down.  We finished out the song and quickly left the church to go outside…

And I was so deep inside my head you could have walked by me naked with clown makeup on and I wouldn’t have noticed. I silently plee to God- please don’t let me cry until I get to the car… We let Grey play outside for a few minutes, and after a little while the program ended and the parents began to trail outside. I look at Michael and say- We have to go to the car. Now… as if my very Life depended on it. I couldn’t talk to the other parents and pretend like I was okay. I couldn’t hide how sad I was and how jealous I was that they just had the experience I so desperately wanted… All I wanted to do was leave.

And Michael and I drove home in silence. It’s hard for us to connect in those moments. Sometimes we try and then get into a fight which then just makes it even harder… Sometimes it’s better for me to just wade through my feelings on my own. And at first I couldn’t even think about it. I just breathed in and out… And once the initial sharp sting wore off I started to therapy myself…

Why did it make you sad? Were you sad that Greyson was out of his comfort zone and you felt bad for him?

No…

Were you embarrassed by the way he acted in front of everyone?

No… The way he acted is the way he sometimes acts…over the years it has gotten easier… I know I was expecting a lot from him… Although he screamed and laid on the ground and didn’t try to participate, there was so much going on it was hard to see him- and his screaming and yelling was mostly muffled by the zillion other littles… I didn’t care what others thought about his outburst or me.

What made you feel so sad then?

I was mad at Grey… which is really just another word for sad… I was sad… I was sad that I didn’t get that proud parent moment that I wanted so badly I could feel my arms wrapped around it.

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I was sad that Grey wouldn’t just stand there and sing the damned song (even though he can’t sing or talk). Sad that I couldn’t just sit there and watch him and smile… Sad that I was tense and stressed… I just wanted to sit there and experience a school program like it is meant to be experienced… And I was sad that wasn’t in the cards for me… And sometimes I just want easy… Just maybe 5 minutes- all in a row…of easy…

Sometimes my feelings feel so dramatic… I feel so much… Sometimes it helps me because I feel and see so much beauty…but sometimes it means that I have the ability to hurt much too much…and sometimes it feels like more than I can bare…

And by the time I went to bed I had thought it through- and I was alright. We tried. I should be proud! Of him and of me. We tried something that wasn’t a slam dunk. We tried and failed. It happens. This is my Life. It has ups and downs. I can’t control it all…Sometimes I am surprised by its hardness- and sometimes I am surprised by its beauty. That will never change. Life is hard. Life is good, and it can either be both or neither…

And tonight I randomly opened my book, Carry on Warrior by author Glennon Melton to this passage… And all at once I knew that my disappointment from last night was completely gone… In fact- it was actually kind of funny… He’s 4 years old- I need to keep my expectations in check… Now there’s nothing left but love and a willingness to try again… I liked these words so much I want to share them with you…

Every child is gifted and talented. Every single one. I know this to be true.  Every single child is gifted and talented in a particular area. Every single one also has particular challenges. For some kids, the classroom setting is the place where their genius is hardest to see and their challenges are easiest to see. And since they spend so much time in the classroom, that’s a tough break for these little guys. But if we are patient and calm and we wear our perspectacles and we keep believing, we will eventually see the specific magic of each child… We can start by erasing the idea that education is a race. It’s not. Education is like Christmas. We’re all just opening our gifts, one at a time. And it is a fact that each and every child has a bright shiny present with her name on it, waiting there underneath the tree. God wrapped it up, and he’ll let us know when it’s time to unwrap it. In the meantime, we must believe that our children are okay. Every last one of them. The straight-A ones and the ones with autism and the naughty ones and the chunky ones and the shy ones and the loud ones and the so-far-behind ones.
Because here’s what I believe: a child can survive a teacher or other children accidentally suggesting that he’s not okay, as long as when he comes home, he looks at his mama and knows by her face that he really is okay. Because that’s all they’re asking, isn’t it?
Mama, am I okay?
In the end, a child will call the rest of the world liars and believe his mama.
So when he asks us with his eyes and heart if he’s okay, let’s tell him: Yes, baby. You are okay. You are more than okay. You are my dream come true. You are everything I’ve ever wanted, and I wouldn’t trade one you for a million anybody elses. This part of life, this school part, might be hard for you. But that’s okay, because it’s just one part of life. And because we can do hard things, together. We are a team. And I am so grateful to be on your team.

I love my Grey…exactly for who he is and how he is… I’m proud to be the captain of Team Grey.


Today I told him he could put his feet in the pool…

Which he did…

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His feet plus a whole lot more… Because that’s the kind of stuff Grey does- and I love him for it.



Greyson- I believe in you.



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Thanks for being here… I remember that whenever I’m feeling alone… I hope you remember it when you are feeling alone too…

Love,
Chrissy

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Article Courtesy:  Chrissy Kelly