Today I couldn’t hold back the flood of tears when what started as watching tv on the sofa turned into a heartbreaking exchange. I was watching the show, Parenthood, and in this particular episode, Max (a child with Asperger’s) was being picked on for stimming behavior (tapping of feet, flapping of hands, etc). My kid looked at me and asked, “Why are those kids picking on that boy?” I responded, “Because some kids don’t know how to react to people different than them.” He continued to press, “But WHAT are they making fun of?” “They’re laughing at him for moving his hand and feet a lot while he’s thinking.” He paused for a moment then said, “That’s why I don’t like many kids. They make fun of me for stuff like that.” The tears were flowing before I could even attempt to stop them.
You see, my kid is the “different” kid. He marches to his own drum in every way. He’s the kid often sticking to himself at the playground or sometimes, he’s the one running behind a group looking for his chance to join in. He’s the kid who can spend hours playing with Legos or looking through a Pokémon book with laser focus and act as though nothing else in the world exists. He’s the kid wearing sound blocking headphones in loud environments, who has trouble controlling all of his impulses (and he has many), who is constantly moving or making noise, who often reacts at a level far higher than most kids to things around him.
But what you may not see, if you’re not watching closely enough, is that he is the kid with the biggest heart you’ve ever seen. He’s the kid who is insanely intelligent, who is far more perceptive than he is often given credit for, who can make you belly laugh daily, who is crazy brave and athletic, who has an imagination and creativity that leaves me speechless. He has so much love and value to offer the world, and he only wants to be given the chance to offer it.
Now, I’m under no illusion that my kid is perfect. He can push my buttons like no other. He can be a lot to handle some days. He frequently speaks without realizing the impact of his words and acts without realizing the gravity of the consequences. I don’t expect everyone to love and adore him as I do, or even for everyone to want to be his friend. Not everyone is a good match to one another. I understand that, and it’s a lesson I’ve had to learn myself. But even with this knowledge that he won’t get to be friends with every group he wants to be included in, my mama heart breaks for him. I pray that those emotional blows are softened as I teach him about how wonderfully and intentionally God created him. I pray that the moments of sadness soften his heart to others pushed to the perimeters of gatherings instead of hardening it to those who broke it. I pray he embraces all of his beautifully unique characteristics to do things that you or I may never be able to do and reach people we never could.
Yes, my kid is the “different” kid, and my world is all the more beautiful because of it.