Mutual Awareness, Mutual Acceptance

I know my kids. Both have some wonderful traits that can brighten my day and keep me going when the rest of the world is knocking me down. Some mornings, they’re the only reason I get out of bed.

My kids can also be devilish little buggers, who drive me up a wall with all the ferocity of a spider on speed. Sometimes they will do things that make me hold my head in amazement, not because of how wonderful they are but because of “the nerve of this kid.”

Of course, that’s not all there is to who they are. The personalities of these children go along a wide spectrum and, truth be told, I love each and every quirk they have. I know that’s a big statement, but it’s true. Most parents, when really pressed, would agree. No matter how much your kid might annoy you in the moment, recalling that event through laughter a week later proves that you’ve accepted it. Your kid is your kid – warts and all. Sometimes even the warts that make others grimace can bring a smile to your face.

That’s something I’ve tried to explain through the years to people who attempt to ease my mind about my son’s autism. They see him seemingly struggle with certain tasks and might offer a reassuring word or two. They’ll tell me he understands everything I say or that one day he’ll be a famous doctor. They paint pictures with words he doesn’t have for futures they imagine. They think this creative storytelling makes me feel “better”.

maWhile I appreciate the gesture, I don’t need it. To be completely honest, I love this kid and I accept every single thing about him, even the things that other people see as disabilities. To me, they’re part of what makes him wonderful.

Lucas doesn’t have to understand me. He might not be able to process all my words, write his name, or make me a peanut butter sandwich. That’s fine, though. I’m cool with it. He’s my boy and I am aware that he has autism, accept that he has autism, and appreciate that he has autism. I don’t need to pretend he doesn’t in order to feel better about the fact that he’s my son.

But here’s the thing…

He also is aware, accepts, and appreciates me. He does those things more than anyone on Earth. Lucas doesn’t stare at me with a look of sarcastic indifference when he sees me do a dumb thing. He doesn’t laugh when I fall. He doesn’t judge my clothes or mock my crazy quarantine beard. Lucas is, to be totally honest, the most accepting person I have ever had in my life.

That’s the irony. While we are so busy telling everyone that we’re aware and accepting of people with autism, we don’t stop to appreciate when they are aware and accepting of us. Honestly, I’m not some grand prize of a person. I have my flaws. I have my faults. Yet, he sees past that and loves me for who I am.

We, off the spectrum, write that off. We assume that children like my son are just so wrapped up in their own worlds that they don’t care about us. That couldn’t be further from the truth. No one is happier to see me than my boy. No one hugs me as tightly or smiles so naturally. While captivated by his “own world”, he still makes time for me when he sees me there. He sees through my flaws even when I’m busy listing them off in my head. No one makes me feel as wanted as he does.

The fact that the rest of the world doesn’t realize that only solidifies my knowledge that it’s real and for me alone. It shows me that what I’m saying here is true and not just some dreamed up scenario, like those painted earlier. I see it and they don’t because he does it for me, but not for everyone.

There have been times where I, like everyone else, feel completely alone. We all have ups and downs, especially in these current days of insanity. I’ll sit there, feeling sorry for myself, only to have him plop down next to me with his iPad, tap me on the shoulder, and give me his trademark wave. I can’t even begin to explain how that makes me feel. It’s a feeling of acceptance unlike anything else I have ever experienced.

So, there’s no need to tell me that he’s going to be this or he’s going to be that. If he never becomes anything other than what he is today, I’m cool with it because what he is today is awesome. I only hope that I can always make him feel as loved and accepted as he’s made me feel. I’ll happily spend the rest of my life trying.