I’d like to propose a toast:
To my son Ian, who, at the age of 9 has more grace and patience and maturity in his little pinkie than most adults have in their entire bodies.
A boy who manages to remain calm, cool, and collected under some of the most challenging circumstances.
An amazing young man who kept his shit together today when his special needs brother came out of the bathroom stark naked from the waist down, prancing through the house while Ian did his best to shield him with his body from the curious, perplexed, and slightly frightened stare of his classmate, who was in our home for the very first time for a long-awaited playdate.
I happened to be in another part of the house, and therefore missed the small yet vital window of opportunity to intervene and prevent Andrew from disclosing what the Good Lord gave him while Ian’s friend looked on in mortified delight.
Ian, without a second though, guided Andrew down the hallway, quickly removing his brother from view, while calling for me to come help. I retrieved Andrew’s underwear and shorts and after dressing my firstborn, made my way to the living room to explain the situation to Ian’s friend.
That was fun.*
All was well again until Ian took his buddy into his room and Andrew once again disrobed, something that happens fairly infrequently but seemed like second nature today.
Once again, Ian remained calm and swiftly escorted his friend to another location in the house, while I dealt with my little nudist.
Many parents raising special needs children will tell you how amazing their typical siblings are. They’re kind, loyal, incredible kids who more often than not become the fiercest protectors of their more vulnerable brothers and sisters.
But truth be told, they’ve got some ginormous roles to fill. They put up with a lot, have to make a ton of accommodations, and often live unpredictable, stressful lives, depending on the nature of their special needs sibling’s diagnosis.
Ian loves his brother. But Ian is thrown a lot of curveballs and he lives a very different life compared to his peers. He could be angry (maybe he is), he could be resentful (maybe he is) he could have it UP TO HERE with having to constantly be flexible. And yet, when he could be the most angry, the most resentful, the most fed up, he chooses instead to protect his brother rather than shame him.
That makes him a kick-ass kid in my book, you know?
So tonight I raise my glass of milk (hey, I’m sober you know, but you can go ahead and have something stronger if you wish) to my son Ian and others like him, who continue to amaze and inspire, who think nothing of using their bodies to shield their special needs siblings, who go back and have a perfectly lovely playdate , therefore setting an example to their classmate that shit happens and then we move on.
I’m damn proud you guys.
On a side note, Andrew needs more clothes with buttons, clasps, and maybe some built in alarm system that will alert us well before a full-blown striptease occurs.
*Explaining to the child’s mother what went down in our home today while her kiddo was in my care was even more fun, but to her credit, she handled it with tact. I just ADORE the many wonderful conversations I get to have with other parents thanks to autism. It’s really given me the opportunity to no longer give a BLEEP what other people think of us.