Right now you are eight. You still grab my hand when we walk across the parking lot into the grocery store. I remember when you could hardly make it through a prepped, super quick shopping trip to get three things. Last Friday we went in and out of eight different stores. In a row. Then we went to the movies.
Right now you want a black top hat for the snowman we will build when it snows. You ask me over and over when it is going to snow. You are hoping Santa brings you that hat and a remote control helicopter (the helicopter is an idea I’m pretty sure you got from Daddy. Especially after he told me how cool the one at his work is.)
Right now I cannot get enough of your enthusiasm. I adore the way you get excited to see the Christmas lights as the day gives way to night. An extra drive through the neighborhood is gleefully accepted. The gasps and, “look at that! Wow!!!” make me grin, my fingers flexing on the steering wheel. I drive extra slow just for you. Grandma got the biggest kick out of your excitement over the chicken dish she served you for dinner a couple weeks ago. You took one bite and exclaimed, “THIS IS DELICIOUS! THANK YOU!!” Grandma and I have chatted about your enthusiasm a few times in the last couple weeks. It’s not just me who notices and is impacted by your spirit. Your enthusiasm is making many people smile lately. I love that you express yourself so freely.
Right now I am so proud of your politeness. When the van driver helped you with the seat belt you could not feel through your thick gloves you said, “Thank you” so clearly and she said, “You are very welcome,” smiling at your down turned face. These manners are yours now, for so long I prompted you to say thank you, to say please, now you just do.
Right now, as always, the little things get to me. The progress I didn’t even realize you had made. How hard it was to hold you up 2 years ago when we would wheelbarrow through our townhouse. Your muscles are so much stronger now. When did you get so tall?
Right now I am remembering the way your eyes lit up wide, the blue flashing, a small smile on your lips as you read the word you just painstakingly sounded out. The word you said you couldn’t figure out. Reading is hard work. You are working so hard.
Right now I am loving that when I asked you if you wanted to visit the holiday shop at school to buy presents for me and your dad, you asked if you could buy one for your cousin too. Even though you ask me repeatedly lately if all the presents under the tree on Christmas will be yours, you are thinking about giving.
Right now I am feeling extra grateful for all the people who have entered our lives because of you. Because of autism.
Right now I am still struggling to talk to you about autism. I still worry that I haven’t said enough or I haven’t said things the “right” way. I have talked, but we haven’t conversed about it yet. I don’t know when that will happen. I hope I can give you the tools to be confident in who you are. You are perfectly you.
Right now we have a little show down at bedtime. A battle of the wills. You always eventually go to sleep and then you complain in the morning about being tired.
Right about now is the time that I will go in to your room, pull your blanket up to your shoulders, watch your sleeping face, and think about how lucky I am.