So last week I was doing an errand and had the boys with me. I went into a store and they asked if they could go to the yogurt place next door. I gave Jason some money to get frozen yogurt for the two of them. When they got back, I could see Jason was very excited to share something. He said, “Mom, Bryan said, what do you recommend? to the guy in the store when the guy asked him what he wanted.” I could tell he was very proud and of course Jason and I shared that warm moment with a twinkly smile. I was a little surprised, but not tremendously. Earlier in the evening we had a nice dinner with my dad and my sister as a send off for summer camp. Bryan said something over dinner about “his portion” when referring to how much steak he had. Another expression I had not heard before. Why am I not surprised? Because Bryan has blossomed! So much is happening at once it’s kind of hard to track. Only now while he is away and we are back from our trips to Europe and NY do I have the time to contemplate all that has happened and the significance.
I think I can work backwards a bit. One of the luckiest and happiest parts of my life are the people that embrace Bryan and accept him and love him just for being him. He calls many people, some are family and some are friends of his, or mine or his dad’s but all of them are receptive to his calls and facetimes. They often reach out to me to let me know he has contacted them. These folks find him engaging and joyful; they will message me to tell me fun Bryanisms or info he has shared with them. Two of these friends, one who has met him a few times and one who has never met him before, came by our hotel just to see him (I had not seen this man since I was in elementary school but Bryan connected with him through social media). It’s hard for me to put into words the appreciation I have that these two guys, one a lawyer and one a doctor, would take time out of their busy lives just to see my Bryan. They not only stopped by but were truly excited to talk to him and hug him and wish him well. Sometimes there isn’t a word in English that can capture your feelings and Yiddish has to step in; I was kvelling!! And I have to say this is always a tough time of year for me; all of my friends’ kids graduating, selecting colleges, getting ready to go, etc. I do not have that experience with Bryan, yet, but I have other things that they will not have and it’s key to remind myself of the joys, not the loss. We went to dinner with some friends he has not seen too often and he met some new friends too. He is typically very anxious the night before camp; separation anxiety seeps in. (this is how I know he is truly my kid). He really was ok at dinner and my friends were great with him. The next day my bff Pammy and I were talking about him and the dinner and that the other friends were “good with Bryan” and she rightfully pointed out “No one has to be good with him anymore; he’s great.” I was so touched by this statement, not just because she loves him and me, but because it’s true! He has grown up so much, he has matured and can really control himself in so many situations. Can you feel my happiness and pride?
Prior to going to NY I took the boys to London and Dublin. I was a bit nervous due to current events, but we decided to go and hope for the best. What I got was, in fact, the best. The absolute best was Bryan. He was so into the trip, so well behaved and so easy to travel with, I was truly stunned. I can think of at least 3 occasions where Jason turned to me and said “I can’t believe how amazing he’s being” referring to Bryan. I have been asked what to attribute this to and I can only say one thing. He wanted to go. He wants to go and explore and be a part of everything and so he did. He loves an adventure (another way I know he’s mine!). We met a childhood friend of mine for dinner in London who had never met my boys. Bryan was a little anxious that night, but rather than get annoyed by him, she said, “I think Bryan is my soulmate! I experience anxiety like that too, but can’t express it like he does.” What a positive way to approach a situation!! What can you say to that but smile with your heart. The people connections in my life are really all that matter to me.
I was contacted last night by a mom who just received an autism diagnosis for her child. She was referred to me by two mutual friends and it has been a while since I have spoken with a mom who just received this news. At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to offer her too much advice because many things have changed and her child is only 4. But then I realized the basics always hold up; parents have the best info, your child will grow up-just in slow motion, and love is the best medicine. I could also offer her perspective. There is no quick fix, but if you are willing to put in the work, willing to open your mind to the possibilities for this child who you love and who needs you so much, well the rewards are endless. We had a long talk about her family and whether or not they accept the diagnosis, her child, and then she asked me about various types of therapy. And then came the question which prompted me to blog, “what do you recommend?” and I was reminded of that little smiley Jason getting in the car after their trip to the yogurt store.