This is straight out of an e-mail I received from Easton’s preschool teacher a few weeks ago:
“He did eat some eggs for breakfast yesterday, and today he took the smallest little bite of a sausage wrapped in pancake. I was really surprised that he even attempted it! The fork did go flying after that, though. He hasn’t thrown it for a really long time. He was not the flag helper yesterday, but the flag helper would not say, “Stand up, please,” and Easton said it, so I let him be flag helper. He’s always full of surprises.”
I saved it, as I do all e-mails I get regarding my kids. But I like to go back and read this one from time to time. It’s that last sentence. “He’s always full of surprises.” It made me so happy that his teacher saw this quality in him. Easton has surprised us, and continues to surprise us, ALL THE TIME.
The things that surprise me and make me smile from ear to ear are things that a lot of parents would see and think, “Okay. Why is that such a big deal?” Well…because…IT IS.
Take the above e-mail. The fact that he took a bite of SAUSAGE at school? Yep. That’s kind of a big deal. And very surprising. The fact that he said some approximation of “Stand up, please” without being prompted? HUGE DEAL. And, the fact that he actually HELD THE FLAG? Are you kidding me? This is not just surprising. It’s shocking. He refused to hold it on the days he was flag helper, up to this point. They had to force his hand around it and he had never held it for the whole Pledge of Allegiance. Soooo…yeah. It’s a big deal.
These three pictures are kind of a big deal:
This was in the morning at his child care center, before getting on his bus to go to his special needs preschool. He was sitting on the floor and started counting and patting his legs (top left picture). The other boy in the room sat down and started copying him. (When I first walked in to see this, I had assumed Easton was the one copying, but quickly realized he was initiating this.) After he was done patting his legs and counting to a number somewhere in the 20’s, he started stomping both feet and counting (top right picture). The other boy copied. Then, as it shows in the bottom picture, he laid on his back, and started “bicycling” in the air and counting, while the other boy copied. Since his other school had Parents’ Day a couple weeks ago, I know that they count on the calendar every day, and they count 3 different ways every day. Patting their legs, stomping their feet, and bicycling.
Here’s why this is surprising: no one prompted him to do this. He was not looking at a calendar. He was not at his other school where they count this way. He was not copying someone else. He initiated this little activity all on his own, and thoroughly enjoyed that another child was doing it with him. THAT is a big deal.
While on a long car trip to Minnesota over Easter, he started singing along (in word approximations, but in pretty perfect key, I must say) to Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison.” I didn’t even know he knew this song, but apparently I listen to it more than I realized.
He imitates the clicking sounds on my Words With Friends game while I play it on my phone.
The boys were out in the back yard today, and I heard “Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?” I thought it was Keegan. The first voice was Keegan’s. The second voice was Easton’s, sounding exactly identical, repeating every “Mom?” after Keegan.
Also today, he had his head in my lap and I said, “I love you!” several times. I heard “I wuv woo!” all of a sudden. I got teary-eyed and tried to get him to say it again. He wouldn’t. But surprising that he said it at all, and yes, quite a big deal to me.
During Maroon 5’s song, “Moves Like Jagger” in the car the other day, when it came to Christina Aguilera’s part, he BELTED out “HEY, HEY, HEY, HEEEEEY!” simultaneously with Christina.
He had been in a crib at night up until two nights ago.
It would be an understatement to say I was nervous about this transition for him. To put it mildly: the kid doesn’t like change. Short sleeves caused meltdowns. New shoes were earth shattering. Hell, a broken cracker leads to screaming. I honestly thought he would see this change and freak out. I kept everything about his nighttime routine EXACTLY the same. Bath, lotion, pajamas, pacifiers (yes, he gets two…he cuddles with the other one), and his bedtime ritual of me singing “You are my sunshine” to him and putting him in bed.
He didn’t cry, but he was definitely confused. But, as you can see by the bottom picture, things are going well. Better than we ever expected. I’m sure there will be nights ahead where he falls out, or comes trotting into our room at some gross hour to say, “Hi!”…but for now…we’re enjoying this amazing, surprising moment.
I’m going to finish this post with links to 2 videos. The first one is him singing his ABC’s, which I’ve been trying to get video of for quite some time. (Apologies for any shakiness or whispering in the background. Trying to keep my 7 year-old quiet and not breathing his little-boy breath in my face while doing the video was a little challenging.)
Usually, when he’s finished with the ABC’s, he claps for himself and says, “YAAAAAAAY!” Not this time. He went right into his rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” My best guess is that they must do the songs in this order at his school.
Once again…he surprised me. And it was a pretty big deal.
These daily surprises are what gets me through the challenging moments. The meltdown moments. The screaming in public moments. The staring strangers moments. The kicking and screaming moments. The picky eating moments. Those moments where I’m about to pull my hair out because I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
During those moments…I take a deep breath and think of just ONE of the surprising moments that has absolutely made my day. Because THOSE are the moments that remind me what he’s capable of and the intelligence that is TRYING to get out. Autism has taught me that EVERY accomplishment, no matter how small, no matter how far past the age when he was “supposed” to do it, no matter how trivial it may seem to others, is worth celebrating. We have a long road ahead, but the surprises will be never-ending.
And yes, HE’S kind of a Big Deal.