June 22, 2011

In Your Dreams

Posted in Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , at 6:31 am by autismmommytherapist

“Mommy, I had a bad dream!” I hear Zachary yell at the top of his lungs from his room, for the second time in thirty seconds. I pause our flatscreen and race upstairs to hold him, more out of a desire to prevent his waking up his older brother than to comfort any of my youngest’s nightmares. I literally put him to bed four minutes ago, so I’m reasonably certain this cry of fear is truly just a summons for snuggling, a ploy for eking a little more of my attention out of the day. I manage to make it to his door before he unleashes his lungs again, and witness his wide, beaming smile as I cross the carpet to him.

He looks at me in utter earnestness, and lies, saying “I fell asleep and had a nightmare that the dragons were here”. I don’t have the heart to contradict him with the fact that he was only alone long enough for me to watch one commercial, which generally isn’t enough time to conjure up dragons, or any other unworldly demons. He stretches his arms up to me and I lift him with mine, inhaling that intoxicating smell of baby shampoo coupled with little boy, and retreat to the corner where our glider awaits.

I’m hoping my pause on a Weeds rerun holds. I sense this is going to take a while.

I am right, and it does. First there is the litany of lullabies to run through, of course in a specific order (who knew “London Bridge”, with all its inherent drama, can have a calming effect on a four-year-old?). Then there is the traditional recitation of “all who love Zachary”, which fortunately, takes quite some time to conclude. Last, there is the five-step hug/kiss/hand hug/”goodnight”/”now I can go to sleep” routine, which can never be varied if I actually want to make it out of the room before midnight. There are final reassurances, reminders to call me if those faux amphibians return, and eventually, a small child grants me permission to leave.

It’s good to know who’s boss.

I close his door, but my hand lingers tentatively on the knob, a bit reluctant to put closure on the moment. I am aware that me and my boy now exist in a time where I can often banish his fears, protect him from those imaginary predators who plague him. I am also aware this cocoon within which we are enmeshed will one day burst, and he will be required to wield his own sword against whomever in the real world conspires to frighten, or harm him. I am confident he will one day encounter the tangled webs of friendship, the challenges of acquiring an education, the tightrope walk of navigating his emotions and behavior. Physically, I won’t be there for most of it.

But I’m here now.

And I’m hoping my theory is right. I myself was enmeshed within my own cocoon of unconditional love for a good part of my childhood, a recipient of the constant embraces and praise of all four of my grand-parents, aunts and uncles who played with me, parents who doted on the only girl, and the only grand-child on both sides of the family for many years. That singular, dedicated love sustained me through many difficult times throughout the years. It contributed greatly to the core of who I am.

My husband and I can’t offer all of that to Zach. We don’t live with a set of grand-parents, and our families are more scattered now than they were in both of our youths. We have my mom, but often it’s just the four of us in this house, the only home Zach has ever known. I wonder, as my hand gently slides from the door and reaches down to pick up an errant sock in the hallway, if that unconditional love we’re trying to replicate will be enough. I want my boy to have friends, to be able to sit in a seat at school, pay attention, and learn. I desire for him a life consumed not by fright, but by joyous anticipation of the next fun thing just around the corner.

I simply want him to have a good childhood.

So, his father and I will give it our best shot. There will be discipline when required. Reassurances that we love the child even if we don’t love the behavior. Hugs and kisses galore. Hopefully, we will provide a strong foundation from which he might sometimes stray, but to which he will always return.

And if we’re very lucky, for this child, that just might be enough.


  1. Jina said,

    I sure feel the love you have for your boys in your posts. And I’m betting that the boys can feel the love in their home every day.

  2. Mom said,

    Not to worry. You are doing a great job as parents, both of you. And thank you–as I read what you are saying about your first years as the “only”, I am grateful you had that unconditional love feeling in your own childhood as well. Your words are so true–the sun rose and set on you! And I have to say, as your mom, that love is still intensely felt, and I am so grateful that I can be both a mom with you and your brother, and a grandma to the boys. I have been blessed!

  3. Shivon said,

    “I simply want him to have a good childhood.”
    I get this so much. You are doing a wonderful job!

  4. cindy said,

    But for now you’re there to slay the dragons and that’s enough.

  5. Kathy said,

    I’m sure that your boys are having a wonderful childhood. They are loved and cared for by you and Jeff. Enough said.

  6. Misifusa said,

    You are giving your boys a great childhood. Never doubt it! ox

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