It’s been a strange week!
It’s winter in Australia. In fact we are only two thirds of the way through, with another month to go. In Queensland, where we live, winter usually means cold mornings and nights, but clear days (our rain comes in summer). But this week is has rained since Sunday. You know that heavy, damp insistent rain where stuff grows on walls and clothes never dry. That miserable damp weather that makes everybody feel grey and dreary.
But then this morning the strangest thing happened.
I headed off to the gym at 5:45, and on the way, witnessed the most magnificent pink sunrise, just gorgeous and everything seemed so clear, almost sparkling.
But when I left the gym at 6:45 , the area was surrounded in a blanket of fog. Now we don’t get fog very often and when it happens its quite a novelty. So when I got home I grabbed my camera and went outside. By the time I got this photo, it had lifted a little, but still enough for me to capture a totally different view of our world.
Two hours later, it was all gone, and the day has developed into a warm, almost summers day. So much so, that I have opened all the windows in the house, managed, in between emails and writing, to get three loads of washing on the line and am now sitting outside writing. Everything is green and shiny and looks so fresh and new after all rain. It feels like a whole new world!
It reminds me that this is what life is like when raising an Autistic child (or a neuro-typical teenager for that matter!) Some days it all appears hard work, and no matter how hard you try, it is hard to see a clear, defining outcome. Then all of sudden something happens. Something you have been working on for so long all of a sudden just happens. It’s like the fog lifts and what looked hard and difficult one day, suddenly appears easy, bright and joyful the next.
We had one of those moments this week. A few months ago, David won a regional gaming competition, which gave him the opportunity to compete in the national competitions, which were held this week in Sydney. The first place prize was an all expenses trip to New York! He was so excited, and had been practicing for weeks. He was so focused and so wanted that trip.
We kept up to date with what was happening at the competition on Twitter. David’s tweets went something like this:
1. Wow, just arrived the place looks very classy
2. Lost the first round
3. Won the second round … I am in the grand finals!!
4. Came 2nd!
Oh dear, how disappointing, not just second, but second by one point!
David was devastated. As I said on my facebook post on Wednesday… it reminded me of when he was six and they wouldn’t let him play in the soccer grand final. He was so sad and we felt so sad for him.
But, by the next day he was able to put some distance between the event and had spent the night thinking of what had happened. He said “You know, this only makes me want to travel even more. Besides, I didn’t really mind losing to that other guy, he was so good!”
All those years of teaching how to lose graciously, how to be resilient and that there is always a lesson in failure, has paid off. Not only did losing that game make him even more determined to travel, but he was gracious in defeat and was OK with coming second to somebody he thought was better than him.
Parenting is a tough gig. Parenting a child on the Autistic spectrum is a damn hard gig. So, celebrating the small wins along the way is critically important. Why? Because it reminds you that even though there are many days when if feels as if you are walking through the fog and its difficult to see clearly, if you stick with it and stay focused, eventually the sun will come out. I can’t tell you how many times we have talked to our children about being resilient, encouraging them to see the lessons from failure, and how to be gracious in defeat. Sometimes it felt as if we were talking to the wall. And now, when it happens so easily, and has become so second nature to their nature, its important to take the time to remember when it wasn’t so easy!
So today I am celebrating, by bringing my computer outside in the sun and enjoying the warm, sunny weather. It’s moments like these that make all those tough, fog-bound days so worth it!