This afternoon, B, my seven year old, was in a play to end his two week theater camp. It was adorably hilarious, as only a play starring six and seven year olds can be! During the play, he said all of his lines on cue. He even did all of the dance moves to the opening song. He danced a bit like Elaine Benes, but that’s not the point!
Six years ago, when he was still a toddler, I wouldn’t have imagined anything like this afternoon was possible. As a baby, B was the one that I had to put in a pack and play during baby playdates at our house because the stimulation of multiple moms and babies was just too much for him. When he was a toddler, I took him to music class and story time at the library, as most of us do with our first borns, and he would just sit there, wander off, cry, etc. He would never do what all the other toddlers were doing. By the time he was three, he was also severely anxious and pathologically cautious of being sick, of falling down, of spiders, of loud noises, of mascots in costume. I could go on for a while.
By the time he started preschool, it was clear that he had some auditory processing issues. that made it hard for him to communicate with other kids his age. He was still mostly playing alone or possibly with one friend who was awesomely quirky in her own way. He marched to the beat of his own drummer. As his mother, I loved his creativity and his different way of being in the world. I loved his big heart and his sincerity and innocence. However, I constantly worried about what the future would hold for my quirky boy. Would he be accepted? Would he ever make friends? Would he be happy? As a serious rule-follower and social butterfly, it was hard for me to see that, though he was very different from his father and me, he was going to be just fine. More than fine, he is perfect and amazing. He is one of a kind.
Today B is an almost second grader. When he walks into his camp, all of his friends and counselors yell, “Hey, Ben!”, and his face lights up. He is still thoughtful and quiet, but he is thriving in school, and he is a friend to everyone. He walks onto a stage to perform in front of a room full of adults, climbs up to the top of a rock climbing wall or says hello to a new person with the same sweet intensity and admirable bravery. He has a strong sense of social justice and wisdom in his big blue eyes. I am so proud to get to call him my son. I wish I wouldn’t have spent all those years so worried, wishing he was like everyone else, wishing he was less than what he is. If your child is a little different, If they keep you up at night worrying, just keep loving them and showing up every day. You are what they need, and it’s going to be ok.
Side note: If you think your child has sensory or auditory processing difficulties that are interfering with their daily life and yours, I have some great local resources and book recommendations for you. Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org