My son got ready for school in record time this morning. That allowed us a few extra minutes to cuddle together on the couch before heading off to the school bus. As he was resting his head against my shoulder, I looked down at him and began remembering the little boy he used to be.
As a young boy, he was a handful to say the least. Some days were so rough that I honestly did not know if I would make it to see another one. He used to rip the wallpaper and peel the paint off the walls. When I would put him in time-out he would pull up the carpet anywhere he could find a loose strand. Practically anything that was handed to him that could be ripped up, would be within minutes, and then stuffed into every tiny corner and crack he could find. He had special “paintings” (hope you can read between the lines here) that he liked to do in his walk-in closet, on his toys, the walls and even in the hinges on the door.
His tantrums were terrible, frequent and everywhere. Within minutes of entering any type of building, I am certain that everyone within earshot knew we had arrived. As anyone with an autistic child knows, these children look completely “normal”. So, these behaviours he had in public were completely unacceptable to others and naturally I was viewed as an irresponsible and unfit mother. Of course, that only added to the stress of the situation. I always thought to myself “let them spend a couple hours with him and then we’ll talk.” Moving on – he was a challenge to raise and over the years he taught me a great deal of patience.
After reminiscing about how my son used to be, I gazed back down at him a second time. His head was still resting on my shoulder, as I thought about how much he has grown and matured over the past 14 years.
He is calm and gentle now. I can’t even recall the last time he got in trouble for anything. Rarely does he need any type of supervision. He’s fairly independent when it comes to his daily routines and tasks. He completes his homework with little assistance and more often than not, scores all A’s on his report card. Every day he amazes me by something he knows or has learned. He’s a computer geek and loves robots, electronics, cars, legos and drawing. He is very creative, which is a skill he definitely did not get from me.
I don’t say this because I’m his mother, but he is truly one of the sweetest people I know. He genuinely cares about others and will give up his own favourite things just to make someone else smile. He will comfort you when you’re sad, even if that means just sitting next to you for support. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t run to pull up a chair for someone, open the car door for me or someone else, help carry in groceries or clean up after dinner – all of which he does on his own. He’s never prompted to do these things. That’s just who he is.
He has the greatest sense of humour and loves to make people laugh. His newly learned joke is, “What animal says oooo? A cow with no lips!” He’ll act silly, invent his own jokes or make funny facial expressions just to make others laugh or smile. Even his teachers adore him and it’s easy to see why. He’s a great kid!
During my annual meeting this morning with my son’s developmental services coordinator, I was able to share some of these milestones and triumphs. I will admit, it felt great being able to brag about my child and his accomplishments. Toward the end of our meeting, his coordinator stated that because of his skills and developmental achievements, he is on the right path to having a job and living in his own apartment one day. It’s moments like those that really make a mother proud. My son has indeed come a very long way and I look forward to seeing what the next few years have in store for him.
Over the past 14 years, not only has my son taught me patience, he’s also taught me how to love unconditionally. He’s shown me that there is no limit to one’s potential and that no prognosis is set in stone. He’s also given me a view of the world, that without him, I would have never had the opportunity to see.
My son is truly amazing and I am so grateful to be called his Mother.