This week has not been good. Two awful therapy sessions (I’m yet to post about Thursday), problems at childcare, health issues for my husband…blah blah blah and yet, while I sat inside this dark box I call my life and squinted out at the world, a few events shocked me in a good way.
1. The stranger in the lift.
Covid is pretty much over here and yet technically we’re supposed to be keeping 1.5 metres away from people when in public. Most people don’t adhere to this despite queues at shops having waiting spots marked on the floor or lifts being limited to less people than usual.
Yesterday my Husband, our son and I went to a Christmas Fair. In the car park we got into a lift that contained another family of 3. When another person was about to step in, the father of the other family said “Sorry you can’t get in. We have to keep the distance.”
For once it wasn’t me telling strangers to back off. Here was the first sensible flesh and blood stranger I had ever encountered in all this pandemic! To feel such a strange earth shattering sense of relief and connection to another human being quite surprised me. I turned to him and said “Thank you!”
Feeling a sense of sameness in regards to a male I don’t know, is no small feat. A moment of hope indeed.
2. The tomato plant.
Some time ago Psychologist S (our son’s psychologist) told my husband to get a tomato plant from Bunnings and plant it with our son as a simple father/son bonding moment. He suggested tomatoes because they’re hard to kill.
The plat was planted several months ago and has since been neglected. Our son showed no interest in it and if I’m to be honest, so did my husband.
Then there’s me.
I’ve only ever owned three plants: an aloe vera plant and a basil plant my friend assured me would thrive with very little care and a bonsai plant given to me as a gift from another friend who probably didn’t know at the time I was a terrible plant parent. Somehow I managed to kill them all. So it’s no surprise that I watered the tomato plant in the same fashion I watered those three plants. As in I watered it once and then promptly forgot to ever water it again.
But today when I went out to hang up the washing. What should I see?
A tomato!!!! A real life fresh home grown tomato!
From the depths of human neglect has sprung actual fruit! A perfect red ripe tomato as good as any tomato from any loved and cared for plant. Could it be a symbol of my own potential? Probably not. But boy did I feel such a strange sense of joy and elation. I felt so happy for this little tomato. So proud of its tenacity. I dropped the washing basket and ran inside calling out for my husband and child. My husband said “yeah I already saw it” (anticlimax) but my son came running downstairs to see it and with my permission promptly snatched it from the tree and gobbled it up with glee.
3. I need a third thing to round out this blog post. Two just doesn’t feel right. So I will manufacture a third. Despite how crappy this whole year has felt to me (and quite possibly everyone on the planet) I still get a faint buzz of warmth seeing Christmas decorations. Christmas used to be the highlight of my year as a child. And I really do love our Christmas tree on which I’ve spent way too many dollars than I care to admit. But like it is kind of awesome though.
I mean look at this.
Even more impressive is that all the baubles are glass and my son was super careful when helping me decorate and didn’t drop any. I dropped three.
So actually that’s probably a genuine third thing. Here is a child labeled violent by childcare staff and defiant by therapists and yet when I asked him to be very careful and to spread the decorations around the tree, he followed my instructions beautifully. In fact, he’s always treated the tree well. Even when he was 3 and 4, he never pulled decorations off it.
I could devote a whole post to what I’m learning about Autism and I don’t want to make a big deal out of his unexpected neurotypical moments but rather, he surprises me. He’s exceptionally good at many things and certain objects he seems to show intense interest in, almost reverence (escalators, batteries, lifts, screwdrivers, stuffed toys). I suppose it surprised me to discover that Christmas decorations might be joining that list.
I suppose all children, disabled or not, give us these little gifts of hope and mystery. Dotted in between the new and constant ways a child will tinker with a parent’s sanity, are these moments that remind us that our child is a wonderful gift that we must open slowly, carefully and lovingly.