Friday, January 11, 2013


Brenna has been looking forward to her doctor appointment for weeks. Whenever she gets to go in for a routine checkup and have someone's undivided attention for 15 minutes or more, she is in heaven. I had the paper in hand, ready to jump through the hoop to get the signature for her Special Olympics participation form, only to find that she could only have one physical a year. She enters 6th grade in the fall and will need a physical and series of shots for that--- the doctor suggested that we take care of it today.

I have had cold sweats off and on for the better part of a year anticipating the 6th grade physical appointment. Brenna is 3 inches shorter than I am and nearly weighs the same. When she was little, I could hold her still, later on I could sit on her. Now, it's dicey.

He finished the exam and said. "Okay ladies, the nurse will be in with the shots in just a moment."
"Sharks?" Brenna queried, looking at the marine life poster on the wall, sure that she had just misunderstood and that he was again bringing up the shark she saw on vacation last year. I let the door close before I broke the news.

"No, honey, not sharks, "shots". You need a shot to go to 6th grade at Jefferson. You want to go to 6th grade next year, right?"

She whimpered a "no" and her lower lip trembled. This was the pits. How many nurses would it take to help Brenna get her shot? It was like an intro to a bad joke. One nurse later, one very kind, patient nurse later, we had three shots in two arms and were on our way to McDonalds to celebrate. I didn't have to sit on her, I didn't have to call in reinforcements-- it was nothing short of amazing.

At McDonalds she sidled onto a tall stool, seated just inches from strangers on each side. Brenna was completely comfortable sitting by three strange men on either side of us. She echoed what one man said to start a conversation and laughed when Henry ate his pickles. Sometimes I think she has better social skills than I do.

Sometimes it's nice not to know what is ahead, whether it's shots or having a child with special needs, a medical crisis or death in the family. It's nice not to know. It's good to take a day at face value and simply live it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Asking Big

This morning I prayed and asked God to do something really big today. Not next week, not in a few months, but today. It has to be today. I can't remember the last time I prayed a prayer like that-- a dreamer's prayer where you just lay it out and have faith that He will come through.

For the past few years, my prayers have been very safe. They have been "blessing" prayers, with my true hopes cloaked in a very thick and protective "Your will be done", which wasn't wholly meant, but was more of a safeguard in case He didn't answer. Those weak and politically correct prayers didn't go up with a whole lot of faith that He would do it. Part of the problem was a feeling of unworthiness. After all, there are a multitude of world crises going on--- do the prayers of a mini-van mom really even count? Do they have the intense importance to shoot straight up to the heavens, or do they filter and break apart just before the stratosphere?

They do matter. I have such a deep and real sense this morning that they do that it rocks me to the bottom of my soul. He knew it was coming before I bowed my head--now I am waiting for the answer. Have you asked Him big today?

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
-Matthew 6:8

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Will she ever?

Our family ate at Buffalo Wild Wings yesterday for Greg's birthday. This is nothing short of miraculous to me. In a place with multiple TVs on every wall, loud music and close seating, our family actually sat down and ate together. No one ran away. No one cried. No one did beat box rapping at our table. No one bit or was bitten. No one hid in the bathroom for several minutes at a time. And most surprising, no one stared at us. This dining experience comes in only second to watching the 4th of July fireworks together.

As I watched Brenna calmly hold the menu and choose the popcorn shrimp, I realized that each child, regardless of who they are, is completely in the realm of "wait and see".

When your child has "autistic tendencies", there are some aspects of normal that you dismiss and walk away from. You act like you don't care if you see the fireworks, like it isn't a big deal that you skipped the mall with the santa or that you may never go to Disney. You never volunteer for the Holly Day Breakfast, not because you don't care or support the PTA, but because your child would melt down in the controlled chaos within 10 minutes or less. These choices aren't driven by finances, but by past experiences with your child. After so many times of sensory overload in a crowd, one begins to avoid and stop seeking out ways to prolong the torture.

Brenna turns 12 next month and has already passed some of the projections that specialists had predicted for her. When she was small, I was the crazy mom that drove the therapists and specialists nuts.

Will she ever look at me? Will she ever use the bathroom? Will she ever talk in complete sentences? Will she ever live independently? Will she ever want to interact socially with her peers? Will she ever want to hug me, or care if I leave the room?

If someone had initials after their last name and worked with Brenna, I believed that they were like a trustworthy fortune teller, able to accurately predict what was ahead. I just wanted to know. I just wanted to be prepared. It drove me beyond frustration when I was told the elusive, "We just have to wait and see. It's too early to tell."

So many of the "will she ever"s have been answered with a firm yes. I only hope I didn't spend too much time straining my eyes, trying to squint into the blurry future, only to miss the crisp and distinct present.