Thursday, September 1, 2011


This morning I pulled into the parking lot clenching my teeth, my hands clutched firmly on the steering wheel.

Elijah, in the back seat, had been crying on and off all morning. A couple of his ABA therapists are on vacation and we've had a lot of time off this week. Today, Thursday, there was nothing on our schedule at all. While I love having time off, I think Elijah misses therapy when he doesn't have it. He loves the constant activity, the constant attention. It's hard to admit, but sometimes I'm not enough for our boy.
I got out of our van and sat in the back seat beside Elijah, offering him his morning snack. He let me know that he wanted to eat, but he just kept crying. If you've never tried, it's pretty impossible to feed a crying child. "Please, Elijah, let's just eat," I pleaded impatiently. "We're going to go swimming." The promise of fun didn't phase Elijah; I'm not sure he understood.

I watched out the back of our tinted van windows as a couple of families pulled into the parking lot and unloaded their children from vans, lugging beach equipment and towels on their shoulders.

My eyes welled up. I wish Andy were here, I thought, feeling vulnerable and alone with our screaming child.
 Soon enough, Elijah stopped crying and it was my turn to lug beach equipment on my shoulder while also holding my favorite little man's hand.

This walk on the concrete sidewalk was the second time we'd walked it in the same morning. We'd gone earlier to check out the park upon a recommendation from one of Andy's co-workers/our friend (hi Ann!). I took Elijah on the slide, but soon he noticed the beach from quite a distance and wanted to go in the water (his Cortical Visual Impairment is no match for his aqua-man tendencies). I took him home to get us both changed into swim clothes, wherein lots of crying and screaming and thrashing and head-banging occurred. He doesn't easily forget an unanswered request.
Which brings us back to where I left off - finally arriving at the beach while holding Elijah's hand.

I laid a towel on the sand and then walked Elijah to the water. He was pretty much the happiest kid in the world. The beach was super nice and not too crowded. And while Elijah's been swimming plenty of times, this was my first solo trip. I was nervous. Elijah is getting big and controlling him can sometimes be difficult. Add water to that equation and it can be scary for my 5 foot 3 inch self. But, I did it. I took Elijah swimming by myself with no problems and we had a blast. Just another adventure for our record books.
 As Elijah was walking through the water, squealing and splashing, a father nearby told his daughter, "Look how much fun he's having. He's splashing. Can you tell him hi? Tell him what your name is."

His daughter clung to him, shy.

Elijah walked over to the dad, grabbed his hand and asked him to splash by moving his hand. The dad complied unphased.

The man's wife and I struck up a conversation. Both of them were so friendly. They continually encouraged their children to interact with Elijah, something I appreciate more than I can possibly express. They treated us with such kindness.

"Show Elijah your snail, Abby," the dad encouraged. "Look how happy Elijah is to be in the water," the mom said.
After about an hour in the water, Elijah was clinging to me, shivering - my signal that it was time to go home.

"It was so nice to meet you," I told the mom.

"What was your name again?" she asked.

"Lisa. And yours?"


Michelle and her husband totally made my day. I was feeling vulnerable and alone. They made me feel accepted. They didn't treat us like we were contagious when they noticed Elijah's differences. Just the opposite, they made an effort to befriend me and encouraged their children to do the same. I'm only wishing I'd gotten her contact info so that we could have gotten together again (someone needs to teach me the art of getting digits from other moms. Is it weird to ask? It seems kind of like dating and it just feels awkward).

I'm so glad that they were so nice. I've found that in navigating the world with a child who happens to have special needs, I've found plenty of nice people and very few mean ones. Good to know.


I don't have any photos from our adventure to the beach today since I was busy trying to make sure Elijah was safe. Instead, I've included these pictures from our annual camping trip earlier this summer.


Kathy said...

How awesome! Sometimes it seems like there are a lot more mean people. But I'm thinking I've met quite a few nice. In all actuality some of the mean people are probably having a bad day or just don't understand. At least that's what I like to think. I'm so happy that you and Elijah had a wonderful day at the beach. Wish I could have been there!! Love, GrammaKat

Jeanette said...

This story gave me the chills. Somehow God provides exactly what we need the most. Today it was kindness from others. Love it.
Jen Boehm

Mo said...

I once met a mom of a boy with CP, very similiar in ability to Oia, while out getting her hair cut. We began conversation because I asked about her son's braces/AFO's. She didn't see Oia with me right away so didn't know I too had a daughter like her son but I could tell she appreciated the questions and conversation, thus showing interest in her kid. Anyhow, we chatted for a while and then it was time for us to leave. I felt we needed to exchange numbers but like you, it's awkward. I just wrote down my number on a piece of paper and walked it over to her before leaving and asked for her to call for a playdate sometime. The ball is now in her court. I find that giving up my number instead of asking for theirs is easier.

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