Hello, neglected blog. It’s been a while… I know we have that whole half-done post hanging between us and I also have some marking sitting on my side-desk screaming at me to get done, but some thoughts popped into my head that would like to come out.
Sitting here in my office I have a picture frame that has a few hundred pictures of the kids from 5-3 years ago. Yes, it should probably get updated, but that’s not why I’m writing. I happened to glance over and see this picture of the twins at 3 days old. For a year this was the telling picture, Elijah was pretty laid-back and Petra was the crying and colicky handful. What made me pause was how flipped the situation has become in the years since then with Elijah’s autism taking charge of our lives and Petra being more along for the ride. A few seconds later the next thought came, about how, lately, that’s not right either.
A couple days ago Elijah’s helper (L) from Autism Services came out (as she does once or twice a week for an hour) and I had to call Petra out of the playroom so they could focus on their tasks for the time they had to work. To Petra, having L come out is the same as having a playdate. She sees that Elijah gets to read and play games and do things that should be fun, and usually near the end Petra and Natalia will get to join in and have some fun too. I had to explain to Petra that having her up in the playroom, even though she promised to play by herself off to the side, would be a distraction for them. I told her that Elijah wasn’t playing, that he was working and that L was teaching him things he was having trouble with.
Petra said, “I know, it’s because sometimes Elijah acts like a little kid.”
My heart breaks and mends at once with this statement. It breaks because she realizes that Elijah is different from her, she knows that he isn’t quite normal, doesn’t act quite how he should. There have been many times in the last year where Erron and I have thought about how and when we would need to explain autism to Petra, and to Elijah. Not only do we want to protect Elijah from everyone else in the world, but there is also a part of me that wants to protect him from his sisters seeing that he is different in case they have trouble handling all that this entails.
The mending comes from that one magic word “sometimes”. Yes, Elijah acts like a little kid, does things that are erratic or has tantrums, but not nearly as often as he used to, and Petra sees him as more normal than abnormal.
Not only does she see it, but I do too. Autism is still something we don’t get a break from, it takes no vacations, it happens every day. But… it is less than it was 2 years ago when every day left Erron and I feeling defeated, like we had nothing left to give in the fight. We have spent tens of thousands on therapy, changed our lifestyle based on getting good and healing foods in everyone’s diet and made family the top priority in our lives and the results are wonderful.
Each one of our kids is a blessing and has love in their hearts for their siblings that they show each day. Elijah will quit his video game (that would normally cause him to have a fit) so that his sister can join in. Petra will move places during breakfast so that Natalia will stop her meltdown because she wants to sit in the middle spot. Natalia will fetch toys or diapers for Micah. Elijah will let Micah crawl on him instead of kicking him off or moving away. Petra will make everyone’s beds because she hears Erron or I complain about the mess upstairs. Natalia will give over her toy to Petra even though she wants to keep it because she sees that Petra wants it more. SO many examples I could put in, and the specifics don’t really matter, what matters is that everyone has good days or bad days and everyone else helps to get through the bad times, and to enjoy the good times. We fit, this family of ours, we give, we take, we may fight, but most of all we love.
It’s hard to put a feeling into words. Especially when that feeling is born out of such tumultuous times as these. But when I think about us as a whole it’s like the feeling of having a new baby fall asleep on your chest, just warmth and softness and love. I don’t know what the future will bring, but right now I am happy and have hope.