extraordinary, continued

1:2 Specialized Yoga class – April, 2012

Becky’s Mom, Mary and I are sitting in the lobby waiting for our girls. We’ve struck up a chat with another mom, there with her two children – both on the spectrum. Mary is telling her how before we arrived, Becky was worried that Brooke might not be coming.

“She misses her so much,” she explains. “They used to be in the same class. Every year from preschool up until second grade, they were together.”

“We used to joke that they’d be going to prom together,” I interject.

The other mom laughs.

Mary smiles. “Yup, they were so good together. It was really difficult when Becky went into a different classroom this year. Every day she asked where Brooke was. It broke my heart to see her without her buddy.”

“So this is a huge treat for them,” I say. “We’re thrilled that they’re able to do yoga together and spend time with each other.”

When Luau and I met with the yoga teacher and she asked if I might know of someone who would be a good fit to share the time slot, it had taken me about twenty seconds to come up with Becky.

-

When their session is over, the girls come bounding out of the room – separately, but together. Mary and I bid the other mom goodbye and gather the girls into the elevator. Even before the door closes, Becky walks over to Brooke and asks to hold her hand. “Sure, Becky,” she says. Mary and I look at our girls, then at each other. We are both beaming.

The four of us get out of the elevator and step out into the fresh air. Within thirty seconds, the girls are doing ring-around-the-rosy. Yup. Two nine year-old girls holding hands, ringing-around-the-rosy on the sidewalk.

Mary looks at me. “They just get each other, you know?”

Oh how I know.

My heart swells watching my girl – our girls, together.

Their connection to one another and their joy in each other’s presence is palpable.

Is their interaction ‘typical’?

securedownload-2[1]

{Image of Becky and Brooke ringing around the rosy after yoga}

No, it’s far more than that.

It’s extraordinary.

Read the full post, Extraordinary  HERE.

February, 2014 …

Becky’s parents, Mary and Leo, invited us over for dinner on Sunday night. On the way over, I told Luau that I was looking forward to it. He smiled and said, “Should be fun.”

I don’t really want to say this next part out loud, but the truth is, it’s kind of a big deal that I was looking forward to it. I don’t tend to get a whole lot of pleasure out of going to someone else’s house for dinner. It takes work, demands energy, necessitates pretense. But I knew that this wouldn’t. This would be real. And it would be easy, even if it was hard. So I was looking forward to it.

Our only fear was the little one – Becky’s little brother, Jamie, whom I jokingly call my boyfriend. He’s three and the cutest little bundle of love on the planet. But he’s three. Brooke and toddlers are typically a combustible mix. Toddlers are unpredictable. They’re noisy, messy, and loud. Yeah, I know that noisy and loud are pretty much the same thing but the fact that they make noise, and loudly, bears repeating in that sentence; trust me.

The last time that Brooke went over to Becky’s house to play, it was difficult. Jamie was talking or yelling or crying or giggling or otherwise being three and Brooke grew increasingly agitated. She tried to tell him to be quiet, then yelled at him to be quiet, then got frustrated and even more upset when it was clear that he wasn’t able to comply.

So as excited as we were for dinner, we also knew that there might be the need for a quick escape. However, that’s the best part of hanging out with families that walk the same path. We knew they’d get it.

When we walked in the door, Brooke made a bee line for the playroom. Jamie was already in there, playing a learning game on a computer displayed on a television screen on the wall. Becky and Katie went upstairs to play on the Wii, Luau joined Leo in the kitchen, and Mary and I chatted over a glass of wine. (Yes, the men were in the kitchen and yes, the women were drinking the wine and yes, that is often the case in our life, and no, I do not take that for granted.)

Somewhere in the middle of the wine drinking and the chatting, Mary and I heard Brooke say, “Good job, Jamie!” followed by a little voice sing-songing a response: “I did it!” Mary and I grinned at each other.

After three minutes of what I like to optimistically describe as “eating dinner,” the kids scattered again. Eventually, they all made their way upstairs. And we, the adults, ate. And talked. And ate some more. And talked some more. We shared stories and laughed. We shared fears and cried. It was wonderful to be doing all that. But what was most momentous was actually what we weren’t doing. We weren’t worrying. The kids were fine. And we knew they were fine. I knew that Brooke was fine. At someone else’s house. With a three year-old. You get this, right? Tell me you get this.

After dinner, we stayed at the table to chat some more. And as we did, Luau nudged my elbow. “Look,” he whispered.

I followed his gaze to the steps, down which Jamie and Brooke were walking … together. I smiled at Luau. He motioned for me to look again. Because it took a slightly closer viewing to truly see the miracle that was unfolding.

They were holding hands.

As Brooke got to the bottom of the stairs, she turned, still holding Jamie’s hand, to help him down. And then she said, “I like holding your hand, Jamie. It’s a good hand.”

The kids didn’t stick around to watch their parents turn to mush. They apparently had plans. And again, we let them go. Because we could.

After dessert and even more conversation, it had gotten late. Sadly, it was time to round up the Wilsons and head home. First we collected Katie and Becky and then went off to find Brooke and Jamie. What we found was nothing short of magic.

The two of them were on the floor in Jamie’s room, playing with chunky, little kid legos. In my daughter’s nearly eleven years, I’ve never seen her play like she was playing in that moment. They were building something … together. She had a piece of it and he had a piece of it. They were handing legos back and forth. They were talking about what they were doing. They were collaborating as though it were the most natural thing in the world. And it was. There couldn’t have been anything more natural about it.

Except that four adults stood in the doorway and watched. Four adults who knew exactly what it meant. Who all knew that we were witnessing something beautiful and sacred and momentous. Who all knew that something incredible had happened – a connection had been made. One that transcended age and gender and ability and disability and expectation and social norms and all the other stuff that so often gets in the way of the stuff that really matters, that really means something.

I reluctantly broke the spell. It was nearly nine p.m. and everyone had school the next day. “C’mon, guys,” I said, “we’ve got to get going,” Both kids – BOTH kids – said, “But we’re having too much fun.” And then my heart exploded right there in the doorway.

On the way out, as late as it was, I asked the kids if we could take some pictures. I was desperate to capture the moment.

This is what it looked like …

photo 3

{image of Becky on Katie’s lap}

photo 4

{image of Becky on Brooke’s lap while Brooke does the “Belly Welly Welly” script, which involves tickling Becky’s belly}

photo 3

{image of a pile of kids – Becky on Katie’s lap, Brooke on Becky’s and finally, Jamie on Brooke’s – while Mary looks on, laughing}

photo 2

{image same as above but with a gigglier Jamie}

photo 1

{image of Brooke and Jamie climbing onto Becky}

photo 2

{image same as above, but showing more of Jamie’s face}

photo 4

{image of Brooke and Jamie sitting together on the couch, Brooke’s arms wrapped around Jamie}

So that’s what happened when two families were brought together by two incredible autistic girls whose friendship is far more than typical.

A whole lot of the stuff that really matters.

And I dare say, it was pretty extraordinary.

-

Ed note: Names are pseudonyms. All pictures are used with permission of both the children in them and their parents, as always.

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10 thoughts on “extraordinary, continued

  1. GREAT! Both families doing wonderful jobs with their kids — so nice that you are connected and have nourished that connection! :)

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