All posts by bearfamily4

About bearfamily4

"Goldi" is my autistic daughter. She gets her nickname from the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Not only does she have golden hair but with it her autism begs for things to be just right. This is her way.

Goldi Gives Thanks

This Thanksgiving image is fixed in my holiday dream thoughts.  It’s those  images that we dream of when the holidays roll around hoping they come true.  Norman knew how to show goodness and happiness for the picture perfect world.

Thanksgiving Day, we made our way to grandmother’s house, ( over the river and all), I shushed my  two bickering kids  with a “You’re going to be thankful!” voice, and said,

“Goldi when you are sad, what makes you feel better?”

Goldi gave her brother one last smack, turned angelic and said “Well, . I just get my pink blanket and tell my mom.”

“Thank God for pink blankets and moms to help us feel better. ” I say.

“And you sir, ( referring to Goldi’s “Mom, she just smacked me!”Brother, If you are sad, what makes you happy?”

Silence. “Uh…..I can run as fast as a Cheetah away from the scary stuff.”

“Thank God for giving you fast legs.” I say.

I proceed with other  ridiculously simple  questions such  as “What is your favorite red  thing?”.  Anything I could  muster up for baby steps to a thankful heart.

This was my child  version of the “Thanks be to God” kind of stuff that we would recite during a Thanksgiving liturgy at church. Thanks be to God for putting the idea into my head at short notice. For the moment, we focused on a thankful heart.

Before we went up the hill and through the patch of woods to grandmother’s house ( really and truly) ,  I said “Let us pray.”

I thanked God  for things like pink blankets, and cheetah feet. And silently through my inner groanings, I asked God to fill both kids’ hearts with joy and gratitude.

Thanksgiving  at Grandmother’s house was very much  Norman Rockwell like picture. . The table was fancied up fancier than Martha Stewart’s.  We oohed and ahhhed over the bounty of food placed before us.   Family and friends were all there.

Suddenly someone with a ruptured spleen took my husband from smells of pure goodness to a stench in a cold OR. Suddenly,   Goldi grabbed her ear,  and I rushed home to get pain relief ,and missing the Thanksgiving prayer. Suddenly my son was asking for cereal,  after  barely tongue touching the home grown mashed potatoes, organically  and locally raised turkey, and out of this world cranberry relish.( never liked it until mom made us her version)

Then Goldi returned to the table proudly cleaned her plate. My husband returned in time to eat a plate of leftovers and help serve up the pumpkin pie. My son decided the green beans from the garden were really good. and licked his lips after a bite of pie. Thanks be to God.

We returned home and noticed Christmas lights already on display in the neighborhood.

“Oh, my goodness , will you look at that!” Goldi declared.

Not a second later,  we took off our coats, and Goldi said “Mom, we have to bake our cookies for Mrs. Claus, ( I will explain later) and….do you think she will bring me a Barbie House?”

Tired and ready to get down on my knees, I pray,  Lord, please help  Goldi ( and her brother)  to see, feel, and touch the gifts of God.  I pray,  that she will praise and glorify You not for just what You give, but for Who You are.

And with that prayer, in faith I look for Goldi’s grasp of the Giver of all things.

That night, Goldi pulls up the covers and closes her eyes, “Dear God, Thank you that we could have so much fun today. Thank you that we could go to Grandpa and Grandmas. And please help us to have a good favorite sleep. ”

I close my own eyes and do my own thanking. God gave as He always does on this day, and will forever more. Perhaps Goldi’s knew it. Simply because she knew Who to thank and what to thank Him for. To me, that is more than a Norman Rockwell picture.

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:7


Mysteriously Masked

Cinderella and the Air Force Hot Dog  strolled out  on that misty evening in late October.  Kids seemed to come out of the cracks like ants to melted chocolate.  The streets were lined with people. We were one of those “must hit” neighborhoods.  This night was our first trick our treat.

Cinderella AKA , Golidi, freely floated in her “genuine article” dress towards any house that was well lit and familiar. Hot Dog Guy , donned with his father’s Air Force hat ( just to add some real man flair ) to his  pudgy stubby look, hobbled alongside. Both were attempting to make sense of the surrounding  topsy -turviness.

Goldi’s telescope eyes expressed wonderings sounded by her  Hot Dog brother. “Why did Mr. G have a spider web over his door? He always keeps his house and yard in tip top shape? What are those strange noises and steam coming from Mr. A’s house? Why are those pumpkins all lit up on Miss L’s steps? Is that Annie dressed up like a puppy dog? Why are their ghosts hanging from Miss M’s tree?

“This is what Halloween looks like.” I say.  “Halloween,”  I mutter softly, “the first of a series of sensory loaded holidays. Halloween-soon to string together with all the other holidays waiting their turn to raid our days until March when everything is a blur.”

For the moment, I focused on the present holiday sounding a bit like a Grinch. Is trick or treating going to be worth it? Dressing up for candy? Over half of which Goldi can’t eat thanks to her peanut allergy? Goldi likes to dress up.  I did it and had good neighborhood memories. It’s an experience. So on we go.

 We rounded our court and begin to brush shoulders with other princesses, fairies, football players, robots…. and then….a masked one. A green one with wrinkles and blood. Then another white one with black eyes that were like never ending holes.  That darn Scream painting!  I thought. ( You were thinking the movie eh?- the painting came first)

“No! I don’t like this.  ” Goldi says.

“It’s just a mask, ” I say calmly,  “They are pretending. Then they take off their mask, and it is just a boy or a girl.”

Goldi is not appeased. A shock paints her face ghost white.  Goldi is all about pretending but a mask  of any kind, hiding one’s true identity, puzzles her imagination and causes her to long for a safe reality.  Hiding behind a mask is not in her realm of any happy purpose and only leaves her with  a fearfully strange world.

“Let’s go home!” Goldi begs as she yanks my arm the opposite direction of anything sweet and dandy.

“Not yet Mom! cries my Hot Dog Guy .  His plea seems extra strong with Air Force plastered on his head.

“Let’s go get Dad. I will pass out candy at our house.” I told my son. ” Daddy can take you to more houses .” I say looking down at his sad little face.

Though my husband and I traded places, the fear of the mysterious mask continued to prison Goldi in fear as she huddled in a corner of the house where she wouldn’t have any glimpse of the “Stranger than Strange” constantly knocking and hollering at our door.

“No more! ” she cried. ” Tell them go home and take off their masks. ”

I hold her tightly and whisper “Mommy’s arms are real and Mommy’s love is real too. You’re safe. ”  But another mysterious mask appeared at the door and my words of comfort were overpowered with the once happy and innocent but now dreaded words of “Trick or Treat.”

“No! They have to go home.” she cried again.

How many more minutes until the neighborhood shuts down? How much more until normal returns? I wonder.  Normal is what Goldi needed for the freedom to be.  The world needed to be normal again- where everything was predictable and understandable.

For Goldi, there was  the pressing of the “Why?”behind the mask.  She learned to look others  in the eye, read their face, and be Goldi.  She longed for others to show their face as she does even in the midst of pretending. Unmasked but in costume was a safe pretending. A trying out of someone else but the reality of one’s true self still present.  In costume and unmasked, Goldi’s spirit and essence of who she is shines forth and is enjoyed. Put on a tutu and Goldi talently twirls.  Put on a princess dress and Goldi is the perfect tea party hostess. Put on some wings and hold a wand and she knows how to work magic.

Goldi enjoys and appreciates the spirit behind each known face. For the bottom line for Goldi – is …..Who would want to be anyone else but themselves? Who wouldn’t want to shine their own face?

For man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. ( From 1 Samuel 16)

Suddenly Seven

Before it was ever August 18 2014, I was zipping across the rainforest in Costa Rica when suddenly…. I was married and rocking our Goldi to sleep listening to Kathy Lee Gifford lullabies.

With everything in its place and the house  was a palace of hospitality when suddenly, baby dribble drops splattered on the couch pillows and the baby swing or bouncy seat crowded out the oak piano with candles on pedestals.

Grunting and crying, shrieking, and pointing filled up Goldi’s talk.   We waited for the right time to vacuum the house. We said her name and she never responded.  We cut tags off every item of clothing and I winged it when washing them. We scratched our heads and sought to wait and see.  But suddenly, we were in a Pediatric Office and we heard the words “Autism “.

Suddenly the record player arm made  one hard scratch that stopped the beautiful , dreamy music of my life.   Suddenly every dream, goal, and picture perfect day was floating farther and farther away into the shadows.

Suddenly Goldi was starting school well before I ‘d planned. Suddenly, there were numerous professionals observing, studying, and testing our Goldi.  To me others would see Goldi not as our pride and joy , but as a label.

Autism in my mind, almost poisoned Goldi’s  very being.  No cure for autism.  Just a life sentence. Suddenly all that mattered is how to live each day.

It’s funny how Suddenly comes and goes. It enters in when you least expect it and often paints an entirely different picture. And its funny how when Suddenly enters in , we soon forget the world it left behind.

August 18, 2014 has passed. It is over a month later.  Goldi is  suddenly seven. I’ve leafed through pictures of those days of “suddens”, remembering the bumps, and the turns and twists of Goldi’s younger days.  Days when she lay in her bouncy seat and screamed as I vacuumed. Days when she just squeaked and nuzzled noses with her baby brother. Days when she ate nothing and drank only milk.   Suddenly, those days are gone and the “suddens “of days soon painted a different picture.

Suddenly, she  didn’t even plug her ears when I vacuumed the bedroom.  Suddenly she was shouting out to a neighbor “You there! What are you up to?” Suddenly she tried chicken sausage and actually asked for more. Suddenly she drew a tree house with fairies in it.  Suddenly she brushed her own teeth. Suddenly she did a show and tell in front of an entire class of kids.  Suddenly she played for hours with her toys. Suddenly she grew as tall as a lamp post. Suddenly she’s seven years old.

Suddenly Goldi will be 8,9, and 45 . Lord willing, I’ll see the day.  No matter how suddenly the years go by, there is certainty that the One who made her and brings about all the Suddens of life, is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And the One who never changes, asks me to stand and watch and be amazed.  For I would not believe the miracles that will take place even if foretold.  Goldi is suddenly seven and I am suddenly dreaming again.

A Spectrum of Stories

Though Goldi ‘s words were only jumbled up sounds for a time, there was the language of stories. Stories that whispered secrets her ears longed to hear. Stories already my long time friends, waiting for the right time to touch her memory with richness. Stories that seemed to be written just for her.  Just as they were written at the right time for me. Stories that when shared with Goldi, all of that happened and more.

When I needed to joy in the absolutely perfect gift of Goldi,  the story was:

When  dreams seemed distant,  but all that was needed was right at my fingertips, the wishes do come true story was:

When I need to encourage Goldi into the unknown  the “can do” story is:

When Goldi needs a taste of home cooked goodness or a little spice in her life, the “Try it you’ll like it.” stories are:

 and GreenEggsHam1 220x300 Top 100 Picture Books #12: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

To see the beauty in  her awkwardness, and to teach her there’s sameness even in difference, the story is:

The pick me up story during stormy days is:

Pete's a Pizza

The story that Goldi fixates on, that I tire of, but I know she found her way in is :

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

When I wasn’t sure if the world of pretend even existed, the story that light bulbed Goldi into a world of imagination was:

When Goldi needed  the perfect pictures to give her a storytelling voice, the story was:

The stories that calmed and lulled her to sleep were:


The story that helped develop an endearing brother and sister relationship, were all about:

I could always count on Eric Carl for teaching and soaking in wonderful things.    

When I least expected it, I was surprised when she “shook hands” with these stories and called them “friends”  

Someday I will introduce her to Christy and her cute rabbit Cupcake.  ( even though it’s in the attic of stories unknown and collecting dust.)

She’ll get more giggles from Ramona. If she were real, she’d probably be Goldi’s best friend.

Maybe a spider named Charlotte will take a piece of her heart.

Someday a little farther away, I will introduce her to another kindred spirit just like her.

These are all in the spectrum of stories that this spectrum girl must know for more wondering, learning, growing, and just plain delighting.

Yet as I story Goldi through life, there’s one above all others told by the Author of all wonders, lessons, and truth.  It will take Goldi’s whole life story and eternity for it  to be told. For even if I attempted to write them all down, there would not be enough story times.  These are the real stories to hold on tight and bring her to the Great Storyteller and find the greatest happy ever after ending of all.







Perfect in Every Play

When Goldi arrived, I had visions of lovely picture perfect playing.

I knew I would see her cooking a surprise .

Or I might see her playing hospital with her dolls.

It wasn’t  meant to be.   Goldi’s play was work with a dallup of fun. Toys only overwhelmed and confused her.  They were no treasures.  The tea sets were scrambled. The dolls lay lifeless. The play kitchen was one big disorganized garage sale.

What is a kid without play? It is the vitamin for growing up.  It is the building block to  fulfilling dreams.  Play  would not come naturally,  but in baby steps.

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This is a box. Inside lies Thumbelina. She lays on layers of blankets. Shhh be quiet she is sleeping. It’s the way Goldi began her play. It’s all Goldi  played.  No doll was awakened and lively for long. Sleeping and resting lifeless in a box was the safe way of doll play.

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This is the Princess Phone. It is the run to tool toy for announcing, planning, and inviting. It started an “I can pretend and rehearse what to say “kind of play.  Something ordinary and dressed up pretty has turned out to be a goldmine of toys. It stands as an essential for Goldi’s social skill growth.

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This is the castle with princesses atop. The fairy tales, the royalty, the symbol of happily ever after are all lined up. They are named and placed. Good Enough for Goldi.  For her, it was an organized ,sequential , “in my comfort zone kind of play.”

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This is the tutu and slippers. With twirling and tip toeing, fairies fly and flowers bloom.  It was a musical, movement “feed her sensory needs” kind of play. Goldi took  ballet lessons promising a real Angelina Ballerina experience.  Alas, so many positions and directions were too hard for her motor to plan.   But dress her up in this outfit and announce her ballerina. She is in our eyes prima!

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This is the cape that flies in the wind behind a fairy who holds the key to all wonders with one  magic wand wave.  It’s all about drama and being a “shining star” kind of play. Pretending came natural when she was the star. No puppets, no dolls. Nothing else but herself to voice  impossible possibles.


This is  cute and tiny Minnie Mouse.   She wore only pink . But soon parties called for many  dresses ,purses ,and shoes. Minnie was transformed into party or church mouse bringing Goldi into a world of tea parties ,guests ,and sunny day conversations over sweet cakes.   It was finally real “little girl, sweet adorable, “play.

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This is the dollhouse. One might call it :The Three Bears Cottage.  Without the help of the mom and pop bear , and baby, Goldi might not have seen the wonder in this house.  It’s a cozy house cramped with guests ( Barbies, princesses, other little mini dolls) But this dollhouse soon gained its home sweet home  adoration when a little Dolly named Goldilocks knocked on its door.

If toys could talk ,they would share wonders. The wonder of how far Goldi has come. She’s blossomed and grown and discovered…..all because of play.  Though there may still lie cluttered dollhouses, lifeless dolls, and dusty tea cups, when the day is done, I smile with delight . Because  most often that day , Goldi knew the pleasure of perfection in every play.

Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.

Fred Rogers
American television personality

If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.

Swiss philosopher, Jean Piaget

Beloved, we are God’s children. 1 John 3:2






The Chicago Art Institute, The High Museum, The Walker, The Uffizi, The Sistine Chapel- Homes of famous “you may look but don’t touch or severe penalty” masterpieces. I’ve stood in awe of many. But recently, at our local downtown museum, an awe that came to me was just as fresh as my first view of David or Starry Night. Goldi had a work of art displayed at the local art museum. It was a special art show. 

As we readied ourselves the morning of the big event, I flashbacked to the times I had given Goldi a box of crayons. Just a bunch of colored sticks to her. I allowed scribble, scratching, dotting, anything… Papers were blank nothings. An amazing something was hopelessly lost in the nothing plainness of paper. Then came stemming. Hard colored bold blobs of crayon filled the page. She held the crayon tightly and squeezed every bit of color out that she could. Her paper looked like a painter’s pallet.

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Then with direction, she drew a real person.

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 I was elated. Finally, she could visualize, organize, and produce something meaningful! As a  teacher, I knew that if she could draw then she would write. If she could write then she could read. As a mom, I knew that if she could express herself, she would shine!  Goldi rested in her art for awhile. The art of creating a person with a smile and swirls around them- her art.  It was routine. Perhaps this was all she thought she was “supposed to do”. It was somehow the way she saw all people. I  had city population of swirly smiling people and held on to the hunch that there was more expression to this little artist than what my eye had met.  

We couldn’t wait to see our Goldi’s unique framed expression for a wider audience than those that pass our refrigerator. Goldi’s work was chosen. What she made was art in a museum! Once in the exhibit room, I searched nervously for Goldi’s picture. Goldi’s artistic flare almost called out to us.

 I paused and eyed the work all over. I attempted to muster up deep thoughts as though I was staring at a VanGogh or Monet. More smiling people with swirls. Some stars and sparkles added. One holding a magic wand. The sun and sky above. A sort of bringing together of what she knew to do with marker and taking baby steps towards something new.

“I got the biggest thrill out of watching and listening to Goldi when she created this piece.” her art teacher piped in over my shoulder. 

She had called Goldi’s picture a “piece”. Not a piece of pie or a piece of lint. A piece of art!

“Really?” I responded with a curious look.

“Oh, yes, She’s very fluent when given a marker and tells the most wonderful stories as she invents a picture. I just love the way this captures her expression and liveliness. I just had to feature this in our exhibit.”

It was as though I had been hit with a pottery wheel. An artist in Goldi was being born. I just didn’t know art when I saw it. Looking carefully, I found more Goldi creations revealing the uniqueness of Goldi.


“She’s so quiet and careful with a paint brush. ” her art teacher told me about this one. 

“Interesting.” I replied.

I look at Goldi’s dreamy blur.  Claire De Lune plays in my mind and my soul is calmed.

Goldi must have dreamed of Monet when she did this. I concluded.

I was such a nose in the air art snob! Give Goldi, a brush, paper scraps, markers, and crayons and let her be. Let her express. Let the artist come out.


Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Art is a unique expression. Goldi’s brushing, blurry, swirling, shapes here and there, smiley people art. Amazing and awesome like Monet, Salvador Dali (I had to refresh my memory on the directly above work) and most of all our Creator. Goldi’s art reveals the Master Artist. The Master Artist like no other and whom we stand in pure awesomeness.

“For his invisible attriubtes, namely his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. ” Romans 1:20

Sugar and Spice and Spectrum

Princesses, tea parties, and twirling. Dollhouses, and chasing butterflies. It’s sugary, spicy, and all around nice. It’s much of what girls are made of.

That old poem set a recipe for each gender. I knew a Sugar and Spice Girl named Jane. I learned to read with her and brother Dick. She wore ribbons and bows, puffed sleeved dresses, and shiny black shoes. That Jane girl was everything sugary and nice.

When Goldi arrived, I wanted to relive everything girlie. Everything pretty would decorate her world. Everything dainty would flavor her play. She would giggle and pretend with her friends. She would dance and float like a dream on the stage of the public eye. But Goldi’s autism soured the sugar, weakened the spice, and added kookiness to the nice. That poem girl seemed so Polylanna. Ours was a Pippi Longstocking.

Even though some girls out there have “roared” their way into a new kind of “Girlie,” that “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice” Girl is what I projected on my Goldi. I noticed a real difference between that typical girl and our spectrum gal.

Girls have the gift of gab. They do tea parties. They connect and share emotions. Goldi has plenty to say but the context isn’t always appropriate. She’s still mirroring her happy and sad face and challenged to recognize someone else’s.

Girls are social butterflies. They know gals from dance class and gymnastics. Goldi invites friends over to play. She pretends with them. She longs to be with friends. But making a friend can be difficult when a typical girl’s intuition tells her that something is “up” with Goldi.

She’s not always fashionably “in.” There are pretty things, I can’t resist using to turn Goldi into princess. Like one white silky dress trimmed with toule and pink rose pedals. Some other sugar girl wears it now. Pink polka dots and orange pants satisfy Goldi’s fashion taste.

Spectrum girls lack some social graces. While living in the South, I saw Sothern Belles gracefully cross a room and turn a boy’s head. Goldi might jump or even gallup. We are still working to keep her feet on the floor while eating. She simply can’t hush down at times for a good story without flapping and jumping.

With faith, I know we’re made in God’s image. An amazing, beautiful, creative, and “higher than any other” image. In faith, our Goldi has the promise of being sweeter, spicier, and nicer than any “in the box one” from some old poem. With faith, we discover the richness of God’s gift of girl in Goldi.

While the typical girl gabs, Goldi’s eloquence sings. It’s imaginative and a refreshing breeze while I am stuck in the conversational rut of the weather. While the typical girl has social graces, Goldi’s zeal is expressed in a bounce that brings spring in the dead of winter. While the typical girl is fashionable, Goldi shines her own flare. The typical girl makes friends easily. Goldi happily accepts any possiblity of a friend.

It’s Goldi’s own unique “sugary, spicy, and everything nicey” touch on this moldy world. In the end, I realize it’s the girl I’ve dreamed of raising all along.

Show and Tell

I was tempted to tell after a “show” at the library. We had a full bag of books and had started to explore the new props for playing. Goldi found a magical cape and wand. She immediatly readied herself for some happy play. She set the wand down on the table and dressed herself in a shiny pink gown. Immediately a wandering boy found delight in the same magic wand. He picked it up and began to wave it.
“That’s mine!” Goldi shrieked “Give it back!”
Her shrieking echoed all across the library. The crying followed. The boy’s mom and I whispered sweet nothings and directions from the sidelines of the playing field. Goldi and the boy resumed pretending and things were well.

But all was not well. I was soon approached by the ultimate librarian. She fit the part. Her hair was pulled back and gray. She had the perfect reading glasses. She spoke in a very stern and shushy kind of voice.
“Is everything okay over here? There’s been some complaints,” she told me.
“We are fine now thank you.” I said beginning to grow flushed.
“Well, the exit is that way otherwise, there is the family restroom right there. ” she said.
As she walked away, I saw a floating bubble trailing behind her. It read “The exit is that way.”

One Oven Hot Summer Day, the kids and I had a “Cool” idea. Go to the grocery store and get some essentials: pizza, popsicles, and juice boxes. We are comfortable in our cozy store. We know our way around well. Soon we had 2 out of three.
“And now, for the last really cool thing…. POPSICLES” I said in my game show voice.
“Yeah! Popsicles! ” Goldi exclaimed even louder. “They are fantastic!” she shouted clapping, flapping, and jumping.
“Watch it you’re gonna hurt someone!: shouted an old woman. Do you have to be so loud?” she said looking directly at Goldi. “That really hurts my ears!” she shrieked. She was wrinkled all over. Her hair was uncombed. Her frown was longer than a basset hound’s. Watching her turn the corner, there was another floating bubble. It read “Your’e too loud and too wild.”

I just stood there in the frozen section, shivering. Her ice cold remarks pricked me to tears. Slowly I was able to thaw out and move.
“Come on kids,” I said. “Some people don’t like popsicles.” I was so tempted to find that old woman and tell her.

Sometimes it’s not a big “show” but it is enough of a show to be tempted to tell. Out there, in the world of norms, molds, and blending in, Goldi is on show. Where there is a show, I feel the need to follow up with some telling. At times, I am angry and I feel the need to come up with some “one liners” to really sock it to the ignorance of the clueless person. At times, I feel the need to educate the ignorant and make them aware.

There are days in life, when Goldi’s autism does not show up huge. She doesn’t stick out too much. Many a time, among friends, I have heard “You never would know she has autism.” A reminder to just get on with life. Because sometimes, I do forget there could be a show that requires some kind of telling. Sometimes, I forget “Oh yeah” Goldi has autism. So I take her to the store, the library, the post offfice, and a restaurant.

Then again, some days, it is all too plain. Goldi has austism. Some days, are a combination of meltdown and tantrum. Some days are overwhelmingly a real slap in the face “She’s got autism!” So I don’t take her to the library, the post office, the grocery store, or the restaurant.

“She’s got autism Miss Librarian. She’s just learning to take turns and play with actual things. She’s come a long way and she actually overcame this particular obstacle pretty well.”

“She’s got austism old lady clutching your grocery list. She gets excited about little things and she might flap her wings like she’s going to fly because that is the kind of “fly high excitement” she feels even over something as simple as a popsicle!”

There might be a show so I might have to tell. Truth be told I could silence a person’s rudeness. An appology could be given. An awareness might be gained. Others might behave differently. Truth be told, Goldi has autism. The speech bubble floating behind me says “The truth is…She’s a person.”

A Spectrum Supper

We all arrived looking glamorous. There was a sparkle in every ladies’ eye and a brightness to their smile. One mom and I decided an outside table would be lovely. After the long hard winter, it would be bliss to eat outside. The table was fancied up with linens. There was a soft warm breeze, rolling green hills, and a giant blue umbrella of a sky.

Even after a long hard day, we looked as fresh and new as the morning that started it. Only God knew what kind of morning, and afternoon, each one of us had before this moment. For me, I was cheering on Goldi as she takes these last days of school one day at a time. When she came home, I was cheering her on again, assuring her I would return soon and don’t worry. For me, I had to calm a storm that meltdowns bring when mom gets lost in the excitement of “girl time” and forgets to prepare her daughter. Heaven only knows what the rest left before they arrived for this gathering.

We sat down and immediately conversed. We’ve known each other for a year or less. But in some sort of “God moving in mysterious kind of way,” we almost can tell each other’s stories as though we’ve known each other forever.
“So nice to see everyone again.” says one.
“I was so excited to get out! shares another.
“I just celebrated my son’s birthday party and then left the family to clean up the crumbs. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” said one mom with her sunbeam smile.

We talked “get acquainted.” We talked “catch up”. We even laid out some pretty deep “bearing of our souls” kind of talk. The continuous conversation erased my hunger for food. It took nearly an hour for us to realize we hadn’t even ordered yet.

There were nods, winks, and some finishing of each other’s sentences.
“Sometimes kids can be so –”
“Mean” we all chime.

Sometimes we made jokes that only we could get.
“I have this thing about fruit and meat!” shared one mom.
“You must be on the Spectrum!” I said.
Laughter followed.

There are terms that float around the table that must sound like a foreign language to anyone listening in.
“I took my kid to ABA last week.”
“I watched my kid Stem the other day.”
It’s all understood with no translation needed.

With ease, we share our worries and challenges.
“My child likes to run. What if he goes too far?”
“We are building a new house so we can stay in the school my child thrives in. It’s going to be a change.”
“Common sense tells me, this is the right choice. I sure hope so.”
“I sometimes feel like my child is so noticeably on the spectrum.” I share.

Every word is heard. Everyone has more than two cents to share. These are moms of Spectrum Kids. Moms who live day to day with a child with autism. Moms who have painted their hair blue in April. Moms who have spent the cost of a home mortgage payment for therapy. Moms who have come to IEPS ( sorry another abbreviation – go look it up) as a lawyer, teacher, doctor, all rolled in one and without the degree. Moms who cried when their child got the official label “Spectrum Kid” but dried up quickly and began to move forward seeking out possibilities and dreams for them. Moms who can tread through the thickest and muckiest meltdown and still come out looking like a Queen.

We ate until filled and I am not just talking about the food. Dusk approached quicker than time indicated. It took a very abrupt standing up on my part to end the evening for me.
“Thank you all”. I said ” And take care.”
“We’ll do it again!” cries out one.

We will do it again. We’ve already been in communication about that. Until that day draws near, we’ve stirred up one another towards more good works for the sake of our children. We’ve encouraged one another. This Spectrum Supper was more than fine dining. It was a real feast.

Once upon time, in a woods starring Goldi

Our woods sets the perfect stage. There are worn down paths for Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks to walk to their respective houses. There are tiny wildflowers for picking to delay Red Riding Hood’s visit to Grandma and lead Goldilocks further from home. There are tall trees for the wolf to hide and then pop out for his encounter with Red Riding Hood or his “Blow your house down warning” to the Three Little Pigs.

Aside from the perfect woods, Goldi has proven a capable star. Her expression is easily engaging. Her skip down the road is graceful. Her flower picking shows an appreciation for the wild. (Just stay away from the trillium. It is endangered and our state wildflower)

There are several productions a night. All are performed on the wooded stage. Goldi, the talented actress that she is, is often cast as the starring role. Dad, naturally is the perfect Papa Bear and Big Bad Wolf. (Also because he is willing to run and chase) Brother is a good fill in for any other necessary parts. Although once, he asked to be the guy with the garbage truck in the Beauty and the Beast Production and we had to take a brief intermission for further thinking on that. I tend to be the narrator. For it is I, who feel well versed in fairy tales.( Almost as good as Goldi)

‘Ladies and Gentleman,” she announces as she stands on a fallen tree trunk, “Today’s show will be Little Red Riding Hood. On with the show.” She has worn her director’s hat and assigned all roles. She takes her place and the story begins.
“Daddy, please hide behind that tree, I will be coming this way and you will jump out in front of me,” she instructs.
“Why, Grandmother, what a big nose you have,” (Just to her own poetic license touch to the script.)

There are giggles and shrieks when either Red Riding Hood is captured, the house is blown down, and The 3 Bears wake up Goldilocks. I did say there are several productions a night.

We all bow and applaud each other. My husband and I find ourselves a log and attempt to take a breather. This acting stuff makes us want to hire a stunt person or an understudy. After chasing, climbing, and jumping out, our old bones tire fast. Maybe I should just consider it a good work out. But even before we can even think about a breather, Goldi is already announcing the next production and assigning parts. She doesn’t skip a beat.

“It’s bedtime!” I announce.
“Let’s just do one more!” cries Goldi.

I am half willing and half wanting to stick to my word. Summer’s beckoning has made our wooded stage so hard to refuse and so hard to leave. And while Goldi is on stage she shines and she is transformed. She can be who she wants to be. She does it well. All who watch applaud her. It’s like a fairy tale come real. She can escape her worries and stresses and live in the fairy tale as the star who knows exactly the way to “happily ever after”. She wants to seize it again and again and stay there.

Once upon a time, in a wood, Goldi brings to life what might not be seen on any other “stage.” But nonetheless, it’s her moment to shine like a star. And one day in that “Happily ever moment” of life forever with the One who made her a star, she will forever shine like one. Once upon a wood, always starring Goldi.