June 4, 2010

Bedtime Story

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged at 8:59 am by autismmommytherapist

It would be so simple to miss them, these slight nuances of connection. If I had turned my head I would never have witnessed the subtle smile that played across my son’s face, or regarded with joy his intrinsic desire to interact with Zachary without the prompting of his demanding mother. If I had walked across the room to close the gaping maw of my son’s closet door I might never have seen this moment, the instant where for the first time ever my eldest child responded of his own volition to my youngest child’s request for a goodnight hug. I am struck by how close I came to having my back turned while Justin reached out and cupped Zachary’s face, smiled at his brother, and simultaneously returned his gaze unflinchingly, with an unparalleled intensity to any look I’d ever seen him bestow upon his sibling prior to this evening. In just the blink of an eye, I might have missed it all, and the truth is, with autism, there is never any certainty a moment, a gesture, a half-articulated word, will ever repeat itself.

For once, I do not have to rebuke myself with regrets, for I have been blessed with the opportunity to watch this entire scene unfold, unbidden, before my eyes. Zachary’s extravagant gallop into Justin’s room to pay homage to our recently established nighttime ritual. Justin’s choice to remain stationary throughout Zach’s embrace, a welcome variation on a theme. Zach’s gentle kiss on his brother’s outstretched palm, an offering delivered there because he cannot as yet reach Justin’s cheek. My oldest’s laying on of hands, without a request, or demand, or interference of any kind.

I tell Zachary this is Justin’s way of saying goodnight, and of showing his brother how much he loves him. Zachary regards me with a look that conveys the sentiment “of course, Mommy” without having to express the words, pivots on his heels, and runs to the confines of his safari bedroom and the comforts of his own evening ritual.

My firstborn firmly closes the door on Zachary’s retreating form, takes my hand, smiles into my eyes, and with the twist of his wrist on the light switch plunges us into darkness and enfolds himself in my waiting arms. It’s time for our ritual now, one that this evening included a precious new twist. I cannot be certain I will be graced with its presence again, but I take what I can get, and am grateful for it.

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23 Comments »

  1. Mary Craig said,

    Love it!! Our kids also have some beautiful, peaceful interactions while getting ready for bed. I even sometimes now find myself getting almost greedy for them! Will’s love of books has increased in leaps and bounds while Meg’s ability to read books has too. My husband and I gaze over their freshly bathed heads as Will sits close and tilts his head and leans down to make eye contact with his sister while she reads. He listens and laughs as she reads along and turns the page at her request. Oh how the tears well up in our eyes!

    This is just another way Autism is a small blessing because we have moments like these that can be so fleeting but we also know to cherish them. “Typical” parents are often distracted and miss so much of these special memories as they rush around to restore order while we’ve learned to thrive in the chaos of Autism.

    Good night Autism!

  2. Lori said,

    Wow, so glad you were able to share this special moment with your kids!

  3. Lorie said,

    What a wonderful moment – I’m so glad you were able to witness this special bond between your precious boys. Kim, your beautiful writing continues to amaze me – I love reading every word.

  4. Louise van der Meulen said,

    How wonderful! I can just imagine the moment.

  5. Mom said,

    That is an amazing event. How sweet for both of the boys and their mommy! Can’t wait to be a part of the new ritual!

  6. misifusa said,

    I am so happy for you. What a precious moment…so happy you were there & ‘present’ to witness it. xo

  7. Kathy Milmore said,

    It’s great that the boys have formed a connection!

  8. Amy said,

    I love this moment:

    “I tell Zachary this is Justin’s way of saying goodnight, and of showing his brother how much he loves him. Zachary regards me with a look that conveys the sentiment “of course, Mommy” without having to express the words…”

    It just goes to show how sometimes, as adults, we feel that we have to explain things to children, but often times, they “get” so much more than we realize.

    It’s beautiful – hearing the story of this connection and mutual understanding whether it be a new addition to your ritual or just one fleeting moment.

    • Amy said,

      By the way, I “reblogged” this post onto our blog. I referred people to your site before, but now that we have the ability to “reblog”, I thought that I’d take advantage of it. 😉

    • Thank you! I’m truly seeing signs of the boys’ affection towards one another, it’s been wonderful.

  9. […] It would be so simple to miss them, these slight nuances of connection. If I had turned my head I would never have witnessed the subtle smile that played across my son’s face, or regarded with joy his intrinsic desire to interact with Zachary without the prompting of his demanding mother. If I had walked across the room to close the gaping maw of my son’s closet door I might never have seen this moment, the instant where for the first time ever m … Read More […]

  10. Chad said,

    Berlee–

    I’ve read so many of your posts–none is as touching as this one [although many pull at my heart]. Kids are amazingly wonderful at reminding us of what is important. You’ve captivated it so well.

    • Thanks se Chad. And I thought “Sand Castles” would bring you to your knees. Almost twenty years, and I still don’t know you that well. Shame on moi.

      • Chad said,

        I did enjoy Sand Castles, but as you wrote, not as much as this one…and Kite Runner…that one is KILLER! Keep writing, although I may not post a lot, I look forward to reading all of your experiences. You’re an AMAZING writer!


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