A few posts ago I shared the wonderful program of The Puzzling Piece iPad challenge with you guys... today I have a great story to tell! Remember I love to wear my Puzzling Piece necklace and wear it often... today was one of those days!
Today is a rainy and dreary Monday... a bad mix for my little man! But things have to get done! We did our usual morning routine but had to interject a quick trip to the store. With enough previewing and prompting and a good reward after, the little man usually does quite well going to the store. NOT TODAY! Right next to our parking spot was a puddle (well, almost a river, actually)... knowing my little man's LOVE for water, I let him splash around and have some fun. I should have known better! The next 15 minutes turned into one of those "meltdown of 2011" experiences. Without going into much detail, I managed to get him into the store and into the shopping cart...but earned myself a well-aimed head butt in the mouth and a nice fat lip in the process. Thankfully, the "meltdown of 2011" taught me that I absolutely do NOT care what people think. My #1 priority is to keep my little man safe. Next comes getting him calm in order to accomplish whatever I came there to do. I am through with the days where I leave my full shopping cart in the store and leave with a screaming child. NOPE... we're here, we are getting what we came for!
Walking through the store with a hysterical child certainly turned a few heads but I was determined to get my things done. Eventually, the little man realized this behavior was getting him nowhere fast, so he calmed down... which earned him a toy train to play with as we finished our shopping. So there I was standing in line, nursing my fat lip by placing a cold bottle of Diet Pepsi over it and the woman in front of me says "I love your puzzle piece necklace!" "It's for autism awareness," I quickly replied with my usual spunk inviting the person to ask more. "I know," she said, "my son has autism!" All of a sudden, everything around us ceased to exist, an instant kinship had linked us together like two perfect pieces in a large jigsaw puzzle! "So does my little one..." I said, pointing at the little man in the shopping cart, "hence my nice fat lip." "Oh, yeah," she quickly answered, "I just got over 2 black eyes from a broken nose!" THE BOND WAS GETTING STRONGER!!! THIS STRANGER KNEW EXACTLY WHAT I'D JUST BEEN THROUGH AND COMPLETELY UNDERSTOOD! "Except my son is 21," she continued, "and I promise you... no matter what anyone tells you, things DO get better! Our fat lips and broken noses happen in those moments when we're just caught off guard." We went on and on sharing experiences and talking about our plans for the Autism Speaks walk in October. What an inspiration this total stranger became to me!
In that instant, an incredible sense of peace took over my entire being. I was NOT alone, I was NOT someone to feel sorry for... I was just caught off guard on a bad day and God sent this absolute stranger to remind me that things are going to be fine. I am not one to talk about burning bushes, seeing visions or hearing voices, but I do remember clearly the day I heard my son's diagnosis as I sat in the car, feeling something so BIG in my innermost self where I felt God saying "Didn't I tell you I have everything under control?!?!" And He does! I'm not going to lie, getting the little man back into the car was not easy, but when we got home we stayed outside and played in the rain and the puddles for a nice long time... it's summertime, it's warm, no worries. Then I realized not only had I found peace... I had discovered a hidden joy of playing in the rain and splashing in the puddles, like I loved to do as a child, yet this time I was able to share it with my amazing little man. I had his complete attention, total eye contact, and incredible social language!
So, I leave you guys with a passage in Ecclesiastes 3 called "Everything Has Its Time." Remember that just as there is a time for pain, there is also a time for joy!
God bless you and may you find your peace and joy through the puddles and fat lips!