It started with a text from one of my dearest friends.
“Want a story?” she asked.
Truth was, I wasn’t really up for it. I was steeping in a toxic soup of anger and frustration and, worst of all, impotence.
My girl was curled into me, watching Oobi on her iPad. I was contemplating ways to keep her there – safe in the crook of my arm forever.
I half-heartedly responded to my friend’s text. “Sure.”
Ed note: Since it will get awfully cumbersome If I try to try to add in a whole lot of “I wrote / she wrote,” what say we just pretend I’m handing you my phone and you are reading the conversation? Good? Good. In a probably vain attempt to make it clearer, I’ll make her purple and me green.
Her: Clark and I get into the car this morning. He notices that on his shovel the pictures of snowflakes are all the same. He says, “That’s not right; all snowflakes are different.”
Then he adds, “I notice stuff like that.”
Me: Aw, yes.
Her: “Yes. You have a brain that sees things like that that other’s don’t.”
Her: “I know,” he says. And names other things.
So I say …
“You know what that gift is called?”
Me: Oh I love this.
Her: And then I stop to make sure he knows I mean gift as a talent not an actual gift.
Me: Ha. Good point.
Her: He asks,”What is it called?”
I say, “It’s called autism.”
Me: This might be the best story ever.
Her: “So I have autism?” he asks.
“Yup,” I say.
Me: This is awesome.
Her: I say, “You know else has a gift for seeing stuff like that?”
“Who?” he says.
Me: Oh, I was hoping.
Yes Yes Yes
Her: “Brooke has autism?” he asked. AND HE SMILED IN THE BACK SEAT.
Me: OMG. Loooooooooooove.
Her: Then asked for the iPad.
Me: Ha! Perfection.
Her: And we were done. The end.
Me: This is the best story ever. You know what makes these conversations so hard? US.
Her: No doubt.
Me: Nothing else. Just us. Love you. You done good, Mama.
Her: It was just so natural as a progression from him seeing something no one else would ever notice.
It’s totally natural – until we make it … not.
Her: I figured it was a good moment to call it and not a challenging moment.
Me: Yes! Totally. So happy for you both. And so glad you had B to bring into the conversation.
Her: Thank you for that. And for letting me know it was an okay thing to do.
Me: As Brooke would say, “Duh.” lol
I can’t stop smiling. This is such good stuff.
Her: I know, but still … private life. And yup. Good, good stuff.
Me: Nothing private about awesomeness. Or something like that.
Her: Just don’t say “Amazeballs.” That should be private.
Me: Ha. You know I’m going to ask if I can share this on Diary, right? Cause I am. Gonna ask.
Her: Go ahead.
Me: You sure?
Her: Nothing private about awesomeness.
Me: Ha! Yes!!!!
Her: I wouldn’t have gotten to this without you.
Me: What a great way to start a day. I’ve been struggling with what happened at the party. I need this — the beauty of our kids getting it — getting that they’re not alone. Ya know? It’s everything.
Me: Sniff back. Love you. So happy for our kids — that they have each other. Just knowing that someone else sees the snowflakes. It’s life-changing. Kinda how I feel about you too. And now I’m crying. Damn it. I was so close to making it through this.
Her: No no no. No!
My snotty kids used up all the tissues!!
I feel the same. I really don’t want to think about how or where I would be without having met you.
Me: We’d both be where so many people still are — feeling alone and thinking no one else sees the snowflakes.
Her: Ack. Waterworks.
Me: Sorry. 🙂
Hey, can you ask Clark if it’s okay to tell my friends the story about how he’s like B?
Her: He said, “You tell her it’s okay.”
Me: Excellent. Please tell him that I appreciate it very much. And then tell him I said …. BUTT!!
Ed note: He’s 7, people. This is our thing.
Her: Gales of laughter.
After I hit publish on the Facebook post above …
Her: That was beautiful. I’m now tearing up while trying to work.
Ed note: She’s working on a project that will connect autistic people and their families in their own communities.
Me: You know that’s what you’re doing right now, right? Giving these people what we have. And that’s one hell of a gift.
Her: Oh no. Stop.
Me: Okay, wait. Here …
Brooke is singing, “It isn’t fun to sit in your own pile of $%#&.”
Her: I TOTALLY needed that. Thank you.
Me: Your welcome.
Me: Thank God I beat you. Saved my dignity.
She’s now making Maxwell (the dude in Scibblenauts) a sticker chart.
Her: Hahahaha. That’s perfect.
Me: And a “huge head teacher” — Clark would love this.
Her: He would!
And there you have it. The conversation. Organically grown from a small moment in time which might otherwise have passed unnoticed. A moment that wasn’t about challenges or deficits or can’ts or won’ts, but about a unique and wonderful and, yes, shared, perspective. A moment to say, “You’re a really neat kid and you see things in a way that not everyone does, and that’s pretty darn cool.” A moment to say, “You’re not the only one.”
There are plenty of times that it’s hard. Really hard. But if we start with the positive, we help to build a line of defense for the hard. Defense built with pride — pride in who they are, not despite their differences, but because of, or at the very least, including them.
Whether they can tell us about them or not, our kids see the snowflakes. And they know, long before we find the words to tell them why, that making them all the same is an egregious error.
Ed note: Huge thanks to my friend and Clark for sharing their story. Along with his name, some minor details have been edited for privacy, but the story remains intact.