Four Years Ago…
Standing statue still. Straining to hear something. Silence can be deafening. Peering out the kitchen window, I caught a visual of Judah spinning, twirling on the trapeze swing. Where is Noah? Again, I pause, waiting for… What’s that? Giggling? Upstairs…
My heart and legs raced each other as possibilities of Noah’s preoccupations were summoned to the movie screen in my head. As I rounded the corner and saw my camera in Noah’s lap, urgency took over the volume control in my voice and I shouted, “Noah! What are you doing?! NO, NOAH!” With only the thought of saving my precious pictures, I quickly and rudely snatched my camera from his little hands. In place of my pictures were selfies Noah had taken. Gone! They’re all erased! “NOAH…!”
Little sobs snapped color back into my state of seeing red. “I’m sorry,” his tiny voice squeaked as tears squeezed through his brown eyes and dripped down his face like rain on a window pane. A dagger of truth pierced through my heart, causing inward pain and shame at my childish outrage. Placing my camera on the bedside table as pin-pricking tears stung my eyes, I sank down on my bed next to him, gently embracing his little body close to mine.
“No, Noah, I’m sorry. I do like my pictures. but love you way more. You’re so much more important than those picture to me. I’m sorry for yelling at you.” For several minutes we snuggled as I kissed all over his red, tear-stained face.
A breakthrough moment for both of us mercifully replaced my shame. Neither of my boys, especially Noah, had ever shown appropriate emotional responses in any given situation. Emotional cues evaded their perception and understanding. Most times, if Noah saw someone crying, he’d laugh. He wasn’t trying to be mean; he just couldn’t transition gears from playing and having fun to being serious that quickly. Furthermore, he was unable to identify happiness, sadness, or anger. Neither have my sons been able to express to me, outside a screaming tantrum, when they are unhappy. Indeed, that was a breakthrough moment!
The one time I reacted instead of responded, and this time Noah appropriately responded to my tone with crying. Instead of continuing to play and laugh, he stopped everything, sat down on the bed, and, without being prompted, apologized.
Journal entry from October, 2011: Today I saw Noah, who never used to cry except when touched or his routine is interrupted, who never used to respond or react, in any way, to stimulus in his environment…today, I saw him FULLY engage life with understanding. My eight-year-old son and I just had a conversation that hit all levels:
- verbally (both receptively and expressively)
- emotionally (identifying and responding)
- relationally (apologies and forgiveness from each other)
I wonder how often it takes me to respond appropriately to God’s correction. Do I laugh and continue playing? Am I insensitive to His tone? Do I understand the gravity of the situation? Do I react impulsively?
Or do I respond thoughtfully, allowing the Truth of His Word to pierce my heart?
Lord, thank You for Your gifts: Noah and Judah. Perfectly packaged images of Christ, they are Your image bearers. You’ve wrapped them in flesh graced with a colorful ribbon of autism. Then You’ve sealed them with Your Spirit and sent them to me with love. While I see me in their autism, I see You in them.