We were at a splash pad. I was sitting in the shade on a bench next to another mom. My own mother had lovingly placed me there, insisting that I needed to cool off. Which I did. She handed me a chunk of ice to place under my wrist and a bottle of water to drink. The real mothers never stop being mothers, do they?
So I was sitting there, next to another mom, drinking water, ice on my wrist, watching our 6 kiddos play. I noticed a dad coming in with two beautiful little girls.
The younger girl quickly ran off to play after he took off her shoes. The older stood there awhile longer. I noticed she had her hand awkwardly, and what would usually be inappropriately, down in her shorts.
The dad knelt down and took off her sandals. He smiled and told her to go play. She then took two steps towards the water and suddenly it became very clear that something was very wrong.
She began screaming and thrashing and throwing herself on the concrete walkway, saying in a muffled voice, “I’m wet.” Over and over and over again.
He tried picking her up. Tried sitting down with her. Tried putting the shoes back on. Taking the shoes back off.
“It’s ok. It’s ok.”
He stood. She did not, but instead, hung her head down low, pressed hard against her father’s ankle.
“I’m wet! I wet!”
“It’s ok. It’s ok.”
And my heart was breaking- tears filled my eyes because I have seen, six times over, a child having a tantrum, but I had never seen a tantrum like this.
She had to be about eight years-old. And my mind tried to grasp what that would feel like. Eight years of tantrums from the same child.
Suddenly, all the tantrums I have survived felt like a drop in a pan. Once again perspective rushed in.
Her dad looked up. My teary eyes met his. “She has Asperger’s Syndrome…”
Truly he did not need to explain. And I told him that, “You don’t need to explain. God bless you for what you are doing…”
His daughter settled. We talked a little while. Another mom joined in. He and is daughters ended up leaving as did our crew.
Still, the sight of that child and her dad weigh heavy on my heart tonight.
May God bless the parents, caretakers and teachers of children with special needs. Bless them with strength. Bless them with patience. Bless them with love. Bless them with a support network that will uphold and encourage them. Bless them for what they are doing. When they feel like their prayers for a miracle go unanswered, may they look in the mirror and see what you see: A miracle.