Sometimes in the midst of day to day life we lose sight of the big picture. We focus on the annoyances, and how far we’ve yet to go. I know I can get caught up in that. It’s hard to relish the present when you look at the expanse of the road ahead. But sometimes, if we’re lucky, we pay enough attention to realize how far we’ve COME, and that’s amazing because it can give us renewed energy to keep on keeping on.
This happened today. I brought my 13 year old autistic daughter for her yearly physical. We were seeing a new pediatrician in the office, so it took the doctor a little while to develop her own relationship with my daughter. I go to a practice that has a good number of special kids, so it didn’t worry me. The physical exam and her conversation with my daughter (with a little translating from me) went well. I appreciated that even when my daughter was having a hard time explaining herself the doctor kept her gaze fixed on my girl. Any special needs parent will tell you how disheartening it is when people look past our kids to us as if our kids aren’t even in the room. Anyway…
Before we left my daughter was going to get a shot. I didn’t tell her beforehand because I didn’t want to stress her unnecessarily, and the minute I did tell her the tears started welling up and I felt a sense of panic. The last time she needed a shot (2 years ago) it took THREE of us to hold her down while the nurse gave her the needle. I wasn’t sure WHAT would happen today. She’s made so much progress overall, but I could see panic in HER eyes at the same time as I was feeling it in my own body.
I was doing my best to reassure her. “You can do this! One, two three and it will be over.” “It’ll only hurt for a minute I promise.” “Take a deep breath, it’s ok.”
She was trying SO hard not to sob and yell – I could see it in her face as it contorted and the tears came. This could be very bad. If two years ago it took three of us to hold her down, what would happen NOW? She’s two years older and two years bigger – if she fought us it could get ugly. I don’t want to torture my kid.
Then something truly amazing happened.
She said to me, “My friend at school said, ‘If you have to get a shot hug your parent tight and it won’t hurt so bad.’ Mommy, will you hug me tight?”
(I almost choked. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. But I quickly caught myself because if I started to cry it might scare her, even though they would’ve been happy tears.)
“Yes honey, I will hug you as tight as I can.”
Then the nurse came in with the needle and my girl cried and hugged me and I held her with all I had. And it was over one, two, three. Just me, my girl and the nurse.
We let go, both of us smiled the BIGGEST smiles, I gave her a high-five and promised her her favorite take out dinner as a reward for being so brave.
Two years ago it took THREE of us to hold her down. Today she just needed a hug.
You’ve come a LONG way baby. Yes, you have.