Toys R Us is a like an alternate universe in a childhood dream. They have things I would have begged for as a child, given up all my piggy bank's insides for, and stared longly at while passing by hundreds of shelves of gorgeously dressed dolls with golden curls and velvet dresses, glistening red fire trucks with real sirens, puppies with soft fur that bark, and shiny boxes of colorful wonder everywhere. The lights, colors, and textures would have been overwhelming in an incredibly exciting way. This is not my sons experience, nor is it mine any longer. I am no longer transported back to my youth, now I am a shrewd critic, weeding through everything in despair and disgust, with just a sliver of desperate hope that I might find something he will "play" with.
I was mindlessly wandering the aisles for his birthday present, discarding this thing and that, maybe a book, maybe a puzzle, OH MY LORD!!! NOT this puzzle! They sell a puzzle I find appalling for any child, and it happens to be a hook and latch board. Now, for the naysayers that might read this, I get that it might be used for fine motor skills, but do I really want to help my children open hook and latches, and dead bolts?!! I think not. Shaking my head and staring in humorous disbelief, I was about to give up, and I rounded the corner. Aqua sand. Well......this gift is going to his dads...It was the "polar playground" and it has little penguins that go down a slide with a pump you push to make a real waterfall! Cool. Done deal. I made my purchase, and left this frustration center.
Fast forward to after dinner. Going out for ice cream instead of cake has become tradition for Chandler and I love to watch him enjoying a typical kid moment, trying to lick the drips from the cone. My sweet, perfect angel. Where have eight years gone? Is this little boy really the baby that wouldn't stop screaming, the toddler who carried only balls for toys around, and made me read goodnight moon 30 times a day? The preschooler that I was sure would never grasp potty training or say my name? The same little boy that had words that just sat on his lips without coming forth? Fighting tears, I watched him smile and offer the cone to his dad, to me, and use his napkin, and say "all done". I don't have enough blog room to detail all the progress he has made over eight years. He is growing up to be a very handsome boy, and he has this aura around him, that makes people notice him. He is sensitive, and sweet and knows when I am feeling sad or sick. I hope people take the time to get to know my son, he is amazing with a kind heart, and a beautiful spirit.
Fast forward to play time with the polar playground....I called dad to see how it went, and he said it was a semi, short lived success. One of the penguins was missing, and he was quite certain Chandler made off with one to squirrel away in his hiding places. For that I am glad. So my gift was loved not for the cool waterfall, and colorful sand, but for the tiny black and white smiling penguin wearing sunglasses.....Perfect. I love you Chandler. I will never stop advocating for you, educating for you, and being proud of you no matter what. I am not wanting you living up to my dreams or expectations, but creating your own. Teach me, and we will show the world that what they think about autism is wrong. Happy Birthday to my amazing child!