I took Monday off to spends some time with the kids. I have been working a lot of hours and it’s been hard on my kids, especially Mateo. Like many people with Autism change is hard for Mateo, and having me out of the house for long periods of time was tough. So we have been trying to pack in lots of family time when I am not at work.
Over the weekend we went to the River and hiked around. Mateo’s favorite part of going to the river is hunting for the biggest rock he can carry down to the water’s edge and chuck it in for the biggest “sploosh” he can make. He tried to dig the buried rocks out and chuck them in with all of his might. As we walked the trail there were signs with historic facts about the river, Reuben began reading the signs to Mateo and then we had to stop at each sign and make sure we read it along the way.
The day was beautiful, the animals were out and Mateo and Maya excitedly pointed out 15 deer, one Jack Rabbit (not the Easter Bunny it was decided) a turkey vulture and a turkey which turned out to be a tree stump. I think these trips are his favorite, just his family, the big outdoors and not a lot of people around. He seems so happy on these walks, he basks in the sun, is all smiles and seems very at ease.
With age, I am noticing the anxiety setting in. Crowded spaces cause him to become very introverted, he will instantly ask for my phone to play a game and find a place to sit. There he will be consumed by his game, and able to slowly ease his way into his new setting. His stimming sky rockets, he jumps, he won’t answer me except for short sentences and seems so anxious. He will now ask to go home after being somewhere for over an hour or so, which is also new for us.
I know that it’s hard for him, but I also know that it’s necessary. As long as he has coping mechanisms, I know he will be ok. Eventually he lightens up and begins to enjoy himself, I will take my phone away, and let him slowly absorb his surroundings. But being in places surrounded by people is part of life, he has to find ways to cope and ways to handle the anxiety.
So on my day off I took the kids out for some Frozen Yogurt at their favorite spot. A little time with just the three of us. We laughed and told silly jokes and after finishing their frozen yogurt concoctions Mateo asked if we could go to the book store. So the three of us walked over to Barnes and Noble and searched through the children’s section. Maya instantly chose a new dog book of course and Mateo took his time searching. He finally came to Green Eggs and Ham. He had picked out a baby version, it had a mirror that squeked, and he was a bit confused by it. I asked him, do you want this one or should we look for the bigger version that has the whole book. Oh the big one he said! So we found it and he eagerly brought it home. I asked if he wanted me to read it and he said no not until bed time of course.
Then he sat there before bed and read it. Word by word the whole book, only getting stuck on a couple of words, but when the words were repeated he knew them. He read it with so much excitement, it was amazing and inspiring! And I wanted to bottle up that night and treasure that sweet memory for ever. The way he would yell ‘NO I DO NOT LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM! SAM I AM!!’ was the cutest thing I have heard in a very long time.
I remember the days when we would coax every word out of him, where he would fight through tears to tell us what he wanted to drink. And now we have new challenges, and I know I will look back on those challenges and say, look how far you have come Mateo. I will always be so proud of my children and the amazing things they have taught me. I really treasure all of these amazing days, their laughter, their jokes, their stories, Mateo’s laugh, Maya’s growing kindness and the incredible bond they share.