No matter how much we try to proclaim how much we are ‘ok’ with autism – let’s be honest, there are always moments or days you wish it would just go away.
There are moments where it just hurts…
Moments where you hang your head…
Moments where you shake your head…
Moments that you take really deep breaths…
Often – there are moments that are bittersweet.
Last summer was Tucker’s self-proclaimed last year of playing baseball. It’s too bad, really – he’s a great first baseman. Now, I realize I may be a bit prejudiced…but he’s over 6 ft. tall and can catch anything that comes near him. Why? Because I have no aim and I’ve been throwing to him since I can remember. So, his success? Totally due to my fledgling athletic prowess…
It was a night game – under the lights. Our 6th grade team doesn’t normally have that opportunity – but their fields were flooded and Wartburg College allowed the little league teams to use their field.
They thought they were pretty big time.
A game..under the lights, with real dugouts, real bleachers, and a real home run fence. For his last game, how does it get any better?
As I looked into the dugout on that chilly July evening, I once again noticed what I had noticed a million times before. The more some things change, the more they stay the same.
Tucker’s coaches – who somehow always had him on their team. I cannot explain my thankfulness for this alone – they cared for him, they loved him, and they pushed him – just hard enough. They laughed with him and somehow knew when he was about to melt-down. They would talk him through…these coaches? Truly, truly a gift from heaven.
There is Tucker’s team – some of them the same boys that he had played with for years – others new. All of them kind. All of them cheering each other on…these boys? Truly, truly a gift from heaven.
There is Tucker. At the end of the bench. Far from all of them. I must write that this is not about having pity…please don’t do that. Tucker was alone, at the end of the bench – because he was comfortable there. He is comfortable in his own skin. Maybe he was feeling overwhelmed? Maybe he was taking himself out of the chaos? Maybe he was thinking? I don’t know – but he was ‘alone’ in an environment surrounded by people.
No matter how many times I write or say that ‘It’s fine’ or ‘It is what it is’ or ‘He’s good’ – the honest to God truth? It’s not fine. It should not have to be that way. It’s not good.
But it is…to him.
It doesn’t so much matter that he is on the spectrum, all parents want certain things for our children. When things don’t go that way – it’s tough for us. However, I’m convinced it’s not nearly as difficult for our children.
During the game I was watching him talk to the first base umpire. Typical – focused while ‘in-play,’ unfocused while ‘out-of-play.’ I wasn’t really frustrated – I had finally come to the point that I was more entertained watching him.
The game ended. Tucker had a couple of hits and caught every ball that came his way. It was a successful summer, and career.
As Tucker came off the field I couldn’t stop smiling. There he was…so happy.
Then it happened.
The first base umpire came over to my husband and me. He was gray-haired and had a nice comfy grandpa belly. He had on glasses and walked with a hitch in his giddy up.
“Excuse me. Ma’m is that your son?”
“Your son – the young man who was playing first base. The really tall one on the yellow team.”
“I just need to tell you how much I enjoyed him. What a fine young man you have. You know what I really liked? Even at this age so many of these boys are so competitive and focused. Your son was having fun. I could tell he just liked to play. That’s refreshing. We had such a nice conversation as he was playing and not too many boys his age will carry on a conversation with an old duff like me. So, good job.”
I left the ball field that night a bit breathless with tears in my eyes. I was reminded about what really counted. He often doesn’t ‘get’ his peers. He’s not the fastest runner. He doesn’t have the longest or hardest throw. He’s not the most competitive. He’s not a home-run hitter.
He is, however, my home-run.