Monday, December 24, 2012

Meeting Dallin

I could tell.

Not because of the boy’s poor eye contact, or the fidget on the table, or how he grabbed the food from his dad’s plate.

I could tell because of his parents.

I recognized the attempt to mask the constant concern. I knew that familiar feeling of trying to appear relaxed, of faking normalcy while still remaining totally aware.
I could see them glancing, I saw them redirecting his hands, and intercepting the drinks the waiter was placing too close. I saw them take turns going back to the buffet, never leaving their son alone.

Their beautiful son, who had only rice and a cob of corn on his plate.
A cob of corn that sent him  into such familiar giggle fits, it was all I could do not to rush over and hug him.

I did go over.

I almost didn’t. Let them eat in peace, I thought, let them have a meal with out “autism” being the topic, but then I realized autism was already the silent centerpiece.

Plus, once I’d mentioned my suspicion to Ben he’d sorta stared at them, and I needed them to know our connection and not just assume we were curious or rude.

They’d seen us watching. Of course they did…just like I see people who are looking and pretend I don’t.

Later she would tell me “I saw your husband watching, but he had a friendly smile..."

"I just wanted to come over and say hi" I began, having no idea what my opening line was gonna be until it came out my mouth, "because your son, is making me miss my son!"

It could have been awkward I suppose, except, we already new everything about each other.

She knew I barely sleep. I knew she stressed about her other kids getting enough of her. She knew I worry about my son growing stronger than me one day. I knew she'd paid for her child to eat at a buffet at which he would only eat two items, just so they could feel like a regular family.

I saw her husband, busy on his phone (it wasn't only our sons who had things in common), working so that his wife could travel to the states and receive ABA training, so that they could pay for speech and occupational therapies. So they could pay for him to have an aid at school. None of which was provided by the government, which made me remember to be grateful. 

His name was Dallon and he was ten years old. Non-verbal and so full of joy it seems to spill from his twitching hands and flittering eyes. Eyes just like Aaron's---not their color or shape or anything physical  but identical in their enchantment. Eyes that if you are privileged to look directly into make you feel like you might not know anything at all.

As we talked, Dallon leaned over and gave me an “Aaron style kiss”. Letting his lips linger as he breathed me in…exactly the same way Aaron does everyday, if I closed my eyes I was home.

His dad looked initially embarrassed by this sudden affection being offered a stranger, until he saw how much it meant to me. For this little boy to sense that I was safe, that I would understand.

Did he know? Could he sense that I-- by sheer association-- loved him! And considered him remarkable? That when our conversation got interrupted by a beyond loud calypso style band wishing someone a happy birthday, so loud it was overwhelming to those of us without sensory processing issues and I immediately held my breath and hope a wordless prayer that he could handle all the extra stimulation... that when he did (like a little champ) I could have applauded!

Did those parent know how amazing they are?

They both work, so very hard, so they can provide the things I sometimes catch myself treating like mere hassels.

She had so quickly asked me where I was from and what kind of resources were provided there.
 I could tell she wanted to make sure their efforts" measured up."

Oh how I wanted them to know their son was not missing anything. 
That by no means was he hindered in anyway because they don’t have formal “help” .
That their son has everything he needs just by having them to love him.
That they were so very much enough.

And then I thought maybe I should remind myself of that too.

Here was a family who lived in a whole other part of the world and yet who I felt like I knew instantly.

Our sons who struggle to connect, had connected us.

Our amazing sons, who both snatch fries at MacDonald’s from other peoples trays if we're not careful.

Our affection sons, who both love horseback riding and hair (his older sisters smiled when I said that and I wondered how many times they’d sat there letting their little brother stroke their hair, just to make him happy).

Our blissful boys, who both hold water in their mouths when they go down waterslides, just for that extra sensation of spitting it out as they themselves spill out the end! When you live in a world where difference is always so blatantly apparent, a little taste of similarities can feel so soothing.

I love meeting other families who know my life because it is there own, as familiar as a reflection in the mirror. I love seeing their strength, feeling hope, getting to complain about all the stupid PEC pictures cluttering our busy homes! I love knowing they understand what it feels like loving a child in such a desperate way you wonder sometimes if you'll be able to stand it.

Getting to hug that little boy made my whole week. Best part of our whole vacation. 
Which is why once we were back up in our hotel room I grabbed my camera and told Ben I was going back down to find them and take a picture.
And I'm so glad I did because of all the things we did that week, it's Dallin's face I never want to forget.

Maybe I didn't need a picture for that after all. 


Rebecca said...Best Blogger Tips

Loved reading this. Perfect.

Ben, Chelsea & Aaron said...Best Blogger Tips

that's funny because I didn't mean to post it yet!!!! that was a very preliminary draft!