Almost every day, I hear parents complain that their children are so busy… more specifically that their children keep THEM so busy since they have to chauffer them to scouts, little league, piano lessons, dance class, etc. I see their posts on facebook, I hear their complaints when I bump into them at the grocery… Life is just so difficult. Blah. Blah. Blah.
A range of emotions swell up in me and to be perfectly honest, they are not pleasant. I am angry. I am angry at each of those parents who take for granted what their children can do. I am angry that they have the nerve to complain to a parent like me about something they should know is a gift. I shouldn’t be, but I am.
I am jealous. I am jealous of what their children can do so easily, when my innocent little boy struggles just to speak. But mostly, I am sad. I am sad for all the “typical” experiences that my child does not get to have. I couldn’t care less about the activities themselves. It is not about learning to tie a knot in boy scouts or making a goal in soccer. It is about the experiences of being with his peers, about making friends, about having fun, about just being a child.
Life will never be “typical” for my son, but what grieves me the most is that he hasn’t been able to just enjoy being a child….. that very short time period when life should be carefree, no worries, no stress, just learning, and playing, and being…. a child. He has lost that. Life is difficult for him, and he has missed out on so many opportunities that most take for granted.
Today, however, was different. Today my son attended his first 4-H Cloverbud meeting. Big deal, right? Yes, actually it was. He was a part of a group. He attended the meeting without a single meltdown from the sensory overload of noises and people, he didn’t run off from me, he didn’t sit in a corner alone because the other kids were ignoring or worse yet, teasing him. In fact, kids ran over to him and talked to him. They asked him questions. They wanted to know his name, and….. the name of his dog. You see, today my son was able to do what he hasn’t been able to do before, thanks to a dog. A service dog that was tethered to him to keep him from running off. A dog that laid his head in my son’s lap when he was getting nervous. A dog that allowed my son to pet him and even “stem” on his fur when he couldn’t sit still. A dog that made other kids want to be near him. I cannot even express what that meant to him… or to me. It wasn’t a perfect day. He still covered his ears. He still sat in another room when there was just too much going on. He needed a lot of help and assistance to complete the activity. He still had trouble speaking… although he easily told the kids his dog’s name. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. For a brief moment in time, he was just a kid part of the group….. and I am NOT taking that for granted.