adam and i were in the kitchen tonight, talking about our plans for an upcoming trip to north carolina. i had my hands soaking in dish water and adam had his pen to paper, making lists and plans. adele was in the living room watching tangled for the twelfth time this week, and luca was with her, just resting from his awesomely busy day. it was nice and calm.
and suddenly, i heard luca's excited squeal cut through the kitchen.
"come here, mom! daddy! look. I DID IT!"
adam and i looked at each other and slowly walked into the living room. luca, of course raced ahead of us, clapping his hands a mile a minute and jumping up and down with a huge grin on his face.
i looked down to see a line of wooden blocks, cars, trucks and trains, intricately arranged by sizes and colors. some stacked on top of others; others hooked together; and there were even small pieces of string tying some of the vehicles to one another.
adam and i both, very proudly, said, "wow! that's awesome, buddy."
"you did such a great job, luca!"
he then replied with a "great job, luca! we so prouda you!"
the excitement of the moment must have surged through luca and adele because they both jumped up and chased eachother upstairs.
as soon as they left the room, i looked at adam with tears in my eyes, and without even realizing what i was saying, asked, "does this make you sad?"
"no. not at all. i am so proud of him."
my motivation behind that question was that i knew this wasn't a normal thing for a five year old boy to do- to spend time lining up, rearranging, counting and color-coding his blocks and trains. it was autism. it's autism that motivated luca to do that, to create his little work of art that he was so very proud of. in fact, as his PLAY partner, i am taught how to intersect these "autistic moments" and turn them into purposeful play; but in reality, i was too busy in the kitchen, cleaning up from dinner, to do that. and upon first seeing the little maze of toys on the floor, i felt more anger than pride. i was mad at myself for not catching that moment; i was mad at autism for motivating my son to want to line up his toys, rather than play superhero with his unused captain america garb in his toy box.
it was my husband's unquestionable pride that humbled me, and frankly, made me feel badly for allowing that anger to take hold of my heart in that moment's time. who was i to take away any ounce of pride and excitement from that moment? luca worked hard, and he was so proud of himself that he came and shared his excitement with his dad and me.
two years ago, he couldn't even tell me if he wanted juice or milk in his sippy cup.
i've been advocating for my son and for autism awareness, for hope and optimism- i've been asking others to see the good in autism- yet sometimes, i forget to see it myself. sometimes, i wonder, "who would our luca be if it weren't for autism?" and honestly, i don't want to know. i also wonder if it will always be this way- will i always have a love/hate relationship with this disorder that's stolen parts of our lives away? because, really, it's given us so much to celebrate and be thankful for, too.