A day at the park

This evening I decided after feeding my gang of little savages to take them to the local park to burn off a little energy and enjoy a bit more of the lovely sunshine.

We walked hand- in- hand down the block, the boys chirping at each other and reminding each other to “buddy up” to cross the street and my little one chastising the oldest one for walking too far ahead (good to know someone listens to me!)

We giggled and smiled and I herded the boys along until we arrived at the park full of other little kids and parents.

The boys each complained about the sand in their flip-flops and quickly kicked them off to run bare foot through the sand to play with the other neighbourhood kids.Everyone but Lincoln.

Lincoln likes to run the perimeter of the park, his “safe zone” which tells him where he is allowed to venture and where he must stay out of. Year after year he learned that stepping out of the park meant he went straight home, no 2nd chances. Now, it is enjoyable to lap the concrete border of the park and soccer field, he does so for some time before laying in the sand alone to enjoy the feeling of the warm sand sifting through his fingers. He watches with wonderment as tiny pieces of glass glint in the sun, he weighs the sand in his palm with a curious expression before pouring it back out of his hand.

I find a sunny spot on a bench, cross my legs and lean back to enjoy the view of my happy children laughing and frolicking, working together to climb. Building sand castles and swinging freely in the wind. I watch them with admiration. These lovely little creatures that grew within me,they have taught me so much about life and love and what is important. In many ways they have helped me grow just as much as I  have aided them.

I scan the park, I find each child and confirm they are safe and behaving. I move from one to the other as I routinely do checking Lincoln each time between the other children. Yes, sometimes Autism required that and even though my son has come so very far behaviorally , he still needs a lot more attention and reminders of what safety is and his part in it.

As I move my gaze from Hawk to Lincoln my mind races rapidly and with a little panic as I see Lincoln approach a little boy digging in the sand.

WARNING!! -my brain says.

IN the past Lincoln has several times thrown sand at someone, not to be mean, but because he likes the feel of the sand. He didn’t understand that sand hurts if it hits someone or gets in an eye and I had to be quite firm with him many times leaving the park shortly after arrival to enforce the repercussions of breaking the steadfast rule “you don’t throw sand. EVER”

I sit up, back straight, on guard and watch. My breath is held. I’m curled tight as a cobra waiting for its prey to get close enough… ready to spring up if needed. When needed.

Lincoln stops a foot to the left of the boy and places his hands on his hips and bend down toward the boy. He turns his head to look at him.

“What are you doing, boy?” he asks.

The boy smiles, gazing up at my son. “i’m digging”

“Hmmm…can I help?” Lincoln asks nicely.

“Sure, come on” the boy pats the sand beside him. And just then, my heart bursts.

I feel the tears before they spring up in my eyes. I am thankful for my sunglasses.

I sit back, my breath spills out in a burst of relief and a smile spreads across my face like the sun on the horizon at dawn. You know that really amazing burst of colour at that perfect moment when the sun explodes against the hazy purply gray wisp of night that lingers as morning begins. All orange and yellow bright as  fresh hope.

The two boys dig in silence but their faces speak loudly. Big cheesy smiles. Animated eyes, a twitch of determination across their cheeks and nose. What a perfect moment.

Any parent of an autism child knows who important social play is, and how difficult it is for our children. THe ability to sit and watch my son make a friend, play with another child his own age in an appropriate manner…man! I just won the lottery. Big time.

It was really just an ordinary day made extraordinary by the assurance my son is ok. He is learning, and he is acing it!

Gifts come in all sorts of packages, and I was delivered a priceless one tonight. Thank you, Lincoln. You always know when I just need a little reassurance. You seem to deliver it to me at the most perfect time.



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