Monday, September 8, 2014

Walker turns 5!

Walker, you are finally 5! You had to fill out a little form for school and when I asked you how old you were you said, 'I am STILLLLLL four.' You are so excited to turn five! I think this is the first year you've understood the significance of a birthday. Last year, you got excited about presents but this year you now understand that it signifies something with age, too.

You are growing into such a sweet boy. We re-did your room and you immediately gave me a big hug and said, 'Thank you mommy! I love it!' Sometimes you will pinch my cheek and say, 'You are the sweetest thing!' I don't know where you picked that up but it's very cute.

You have worked so hard the past several months. Since we got your diagnosis, we have been hitting the therapies intensely. It is taxing on you and I think it's scary, too. You are being pushed beyond your comfort zone in every session and in the homework we do each day.

One of your biggest issues is anxiety and you battle that bravely each day. I read a letter a mother wrote to her autistic child. He was a teen and could express himself more clearly. He had seen the wizard of oz and remarked that the cowardly lion must have autism. When his mother asked why, he said, 'Because he is scared all the time.' That breaks my heart for you because I see that in your behavior, though you don't always verbalize it. You met your new teacher the other day and things weren't going well. You were in the car, throwing yourself under the seats, screaming that you wouldn't go in. The more I talked to you about it, you completely shut down. I called your besties mom, begging to walk in with them, anticipating that I would have to carry you in screaming and/or boneless but at least you'd have companionship. I facebook stalked a teacher at your school and found a picture of your teacher and you were interested in looking at her. I have claimed a scripture for you, 'for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.' (2 Tim 1:7). I was praying. You let me talk to you about where her classroom was and what things you might do. Eventually you announced that it was time to go in! I was not going to miss the opportunity so in we went, even bypassing waiting for your friend. Sorry Melody!!! You did amazing. I know that on the inside you were so scared but you put on a brave face and did it. Later I asked you how you felt and you said, 'It was pretty scary.' Your scared can look like anger, defiance, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, and many other things but I think it all boils down to anxiety. The great news about that is you weren't made to live that way and you are overcome your fears daily. You have many battles to fight but you are already victorious in that one. We just have to help you remember that. In my limited experience, the enemy attacks us where we are meant to be most glorious. I know that you will be a tremendous and brave man of God and we will not let that be stolen from you. You were given a spirit of power, love, and self-control and that is what you will grow into. 

Being your mommy has made me a better person. You've broadened my horizons. I used to measure success as achieving various milestones and now I see how inaccurate that is. It doesn't matter to me that you might not be the first to ride a bike or have 'first time obedience' in every circumstance. What makes my heart burst with pride is that you are overcoming so much! There is nothing noteworthy about doing something that comes easily but there is something extraordinary about persevering through obstacles. I envision you as carrying a backpack that's loaded with rocks while everyone else is carrying a backpack full of feathers. All the backpacks look the same but you are struggling under this weight that most people can't see to keep up with these other kids carrying around feathers. You are very bravely getting up each day and putting on your backpack. 

And your costumes. 
And your 'boy purse'. 
And your police hat.

Now that you are really talking, you've said some things that have made me laugh. You got a new bed and you were so excited about it. The first night I tucked you in there you said, 'Look at me! I'm gangham style!' What?!  You were upset about something and since we are always talking through emotions, I asked how you felt. You emphatically told me that you were the opposite of happy. Ha! I was trying to get you to eat watermelon and for some reason you told me it was frozen. Since you love a good game of pretend, in a nod to the movie, I suggested that an act of true love might thaw it for you. You just looked at me straight faced and said, 'Probably just the sun, mom.' As most people on the spectrum are, you are a literal thinker. I told you dinner was ready and there was a bowl of oatmeal with your name on it. You looked and looked and finally said, 'ummmmmm, I don't see it.' Whoops! I forget sometimes how you're going to interpret what I say. What is great about that is when you are old enough to understand God's promises to you, you'll believe them. Other people rationalize them away or for whatever reason discount the meaning but you won't do that. When God tells you you are a new creation, you'll believe it. And when you live your life operating from the core belief that Jesus came so that you may have life to the full and that you are chosen as a child of God, that's a game changer. Autism has stolen things from you and from our family. That's a fact. But I already see God redeeming that and restoring to you what the locusts have eaten and I know that when you are old enough to dive into scripture, God is going to take hold of you in a big way. You are poised to understand and take to heart truths that are much harder for neurotypical people to wrap their minds around. Now there will be a picture dump because you are a gold mine of awesome-ness for picture taking.

Just a regular day, playing in the backyard.
One more story about your progress. Recently we had a dinner party, with 12 kids coming over. Previously, you would slam your door when people came, stay in your room most of the evening, and if you came out there would be significant issues. That night, you met people at the door with the rest of the family. You greeted kids by name. One boy, about 12, who has been kind to you, you kissed on the cheek, grabbed by the hand, and invited him to come see your room! Until you called kids by name that night, I never noticed that you rarely do that. You stayed out of your room almost the entire evening and successfully played with numerous children. It was fun for you. That is amazing progress!!
You were climbing a mountain, obviously.

This is you waiting for the ice cream truck. This isn't even our yard.

This is you being you. 
You wanted to 'see how great you looked.'
This is what you insisted on wearing to meet your teacher. Glove and all.
You are a joy! You are now quick to smile and when you find something funny, you find it HYSTERICAL. You get that from your daddy, I think. When he gets tickled everyone else laughs too and your laughter is equally contagious. You can have your siblings giggling at something they didn't even find funny just because you got so much entertainment from it. You now want to engage with us and you have a funny sense of humor. Sort of a frat-boy level. Harris and Caroline had gone to a biology camp and were talking at dinner about the digestive and circulatory systems. You got a mischievous look on your face and said, 'let's talk about the diaper system!' We are still adjusting to the idea that you are engaged in conversation, so to hear you comment on the subject at hand, especially to make a joke, just warms our hearts. Even if it's about diapers. :)

Walker, I love you. I'm so proud of you. You are an amazing little boy with a bright future. 

You are facing trials most people don't face to be molded into a person of excellence, to be of fine character, as a light for God's kingdom. I'm so honored to be your mommy and excited to watch you grow. I love, love, love you, my sweet boy!!
Happy birthday, Walker!

Because you like to end things with a bow, this pic seemed appropriate.
'for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control'

2 Tim 1:7

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