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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.

Dear Mrs. Kindergarten

Measurement, Algebra - Students learn to measure using their names. Could relate to algebra by finding out as a class how long certain letters are (vowels) and using that in a formula

Dear Mrs. Kindergarten,

How I think of you often.  My own kindergarten days are shadowy. But  the sweetness of your touch so many years ago, smiles up my childhood memories.  How I wish you were here again for our children.

I remember when you turned out the lights one October Day. The decor in the room seemed all too real and my imagation went wild. I couldn’t sing the “Old Woman who Lived Alone” song. Tears came and you silenced the giggles by inviting me to sit with you right on the piano bench.

When I felt warm, wet, and stinky, singing the  “Sweet Nightengale” song on stage,   there were tears again. But you patiently directed me to the “right room” and told me “It’s okay, accident’s happen. ” Learning those kinds of lessons were ever so hard. But you knew how to tip toe me through a challenge.

We sang about rainbows and traffic lights.  We threaded fruit loops on a string.   The taste of the homemade applesauce made with our little hands  was like biting into wonder.  We hopped our way through counting to 20 and traced numbers with slippery finger paint.   The simple was extravagant. Fun was served up everyday and we learned.

You cast a calming spell at rest time which helped us stand on our two feet again.  I was an instant chef in the toy kitchen. I was prima ballerina in costume. I painted masterpieces. I built Eiffel towers from a rainbow of blocks. Being a child was celebrated and we developed and matured.

Tissue Paper Flower Art Activity | Mess For Less #kidscraft #preschool

Your wisdom was just right medicine. You knew that that play dough, dancing, climbing, and stretching came first before pinching, gripping, and writing.  You gave us fat colorful crayons for coloring  and fat orange pencils for writing our names. You introduced letters and sounds as friends and read stories that we wanted to read ourselves. Our magic wand finger counted tiny treasures like shiny buttons, marbles, and little beads.  Numbers were mind boggling sometimes.  But you had tools in your pocket that made it easy.

Thank you for helping, nurturing, and loving us through our first year of “real school.” Thank you for making learning contagious. Thank you for knowing us as children. As a child, you spoke to us carefully,  you listened to us mindfully, and you observed our childish ways with a twinkle in your eye.

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I am a grown up now, a mom and teacher in fact.   It is 41 years later, but Kindergarten is as much a part of me now as it was then. For now, I stand as a teacher preparing to do as you did.  And after 41 years, I now know a  secret  you never told but left for our own discovery. It was wisdom you passed on to us kids no matter what we grew up to be. I know that there’s something more than what we need to learn in kindergarten.

I know to turn up the now whispers of Piaget and Erickson and listen closely. I know to relish and enjoy the years that kids are kids. I will mindfully relive all the joyful times you gave me and offer the same gift to my own children- my daughter, my son, and my kindergartners.  Thank you Mrs. Kindergartener for keeping my childhood dear.

 

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:

 and 

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.

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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
1928–2003

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
1896–1980

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

 

 

 

 

Art-autist-ic

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.

artwork 001

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.

The Why of the Storm

Some days on this journey are cloudy. Storms are inevitable when raising an autistic child. If only the storms were the kind to watch calmly and wait for its passing. But some are so severe.

Our most recent storm happened at the grocery store. Goldi and I had spent time gathering some necessaries. She would spend her earned money on a Barbie Belle doll. With her eyes on the prize, the moment of reward came. But a dark cloud rolled in.
“I forgot my money!” I told the cashier. “We have to go home and get it.”
“But Mom I want Belle!” she cried.
Goldi held my hand and looked back at the Belle Doll farther and farther from view.
Then the empty handed girl screamed “Mom, I want Belle!”
“We’ll come back. We have to get money. We’ll have Belle soon.”

It was time to take cover. I didn’t need any sort of “look” from the public eye indicating my parenting skills were way off. We needed to go somewhere private. Finally we reached the car.
The downpour came.
“No! I want Belle! I need Belle. That’s my doll!”
There was thunder. (Goldi was kicking the driver’s seat.) There was screaming. (loud as lightening) It rained steadily the entire trip home. (Goldi cried and cried.) Meltdown and Tantrum made one big storm.

In the aftermath, I was left tired and knocked down. When Goldi was at peace, I was to find my own. On these stormy days, I ask “Why did Goldi have to be autistic?”

It’s not the worse “Why?” in the world. I am not starving. I’m not confined to a wheelchair. No dear one has a life killing disease. Yet, I still wrestle with this “Why?” Why couldn’t our girl be typical? If Goldi wasn’t autistic, she would have more patience and understanding. If Goldi wasn’t autistic, my reasoning would be all that was needed in a meltdown. If Goldi wasn’t autistic, life would be normal.

Why autism? The answer is mysterious like the storm. So much in its make up: cloud bumping, electricity, moisture making, wind blowing, and many other “over my head mind boggler”s all rolled into one. Without storms, there would be no greening of the land. There would be no lakes, rivers, and oceans. Without storms, there would be no rejuvenation and new growth.

Why does Goldi have autism? The answer is as mysterious as Goldi. So much in her make up. She is imaginative, appreciative, smart, fun, funny, energetic, creative, playful, and so many other “over my head mind bogglers” all rolled into one girl. Without Goldi as Goldi, there might not be twirling and racing in the wind. Without Goldi as Goldi, there might not be bright eyed belly laughter. Without Goldi as Goldi, there might not be miracle filled dreaming. Without Goldi as Goldi, there might not be tight hugs and ear to ear smiles.

God made Goldi autistic. Exactly, His plan. Storms included. If Goldi wasn’t autistic, she wouldn’t be Goldi. Without storms there is no assurance of a glorious, hope filled, rainbow. We look for them in any rainstorm. We look for them after the storms of autism. God’s perfection and glory is displayed despite the storms. It is in clear view if we look. The sight of it is something to silence the why and marvel at instead.

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.