Every now and then I get down. It happens to all of us. This weekends happened at a hockey game. I'm willing to bet you are all shocked by that! Friday night the announcer names the person singing the national anthem. I don't remember his name, but what I do remember is that he was a 4 year old boy. He walked out in to the arena and sang the anthem. Well, as much as a 4 year old can sing that song! He knew the words, he wasn't phased by the feedback from the sound system in the first few lines. It was no problem to hear him, he didn't miss a beat. There were a lot of notes he missed, but nobody cared. He was given a resounding round of applause when he finished. People were smiling and laughing, agreeing that the team didn't dare lose with that kind of an anthem!
I confess, I had tears in my eyes. But they weren't from pride in that little boy's performance. All I could think of, as I watched in stunned amazement was what a difference our life was. Our 4 year old was at home, happily playing with his sitter. Not because Mom and Dad needed a break, we had looked forward to sharing our love of hockey with our little man. But he can't handle it. There are too many people, too much going on, the crowd is too loud for most of the game, and the horn sends him in to panic attacks. Despite a full year of speech therapy and impressive progress, he's still at least 20 months behind his age for speech. Sure, I can understand 90% of what he says, but not everyone spends the amount of time talking with him that I do. We wouldn't have been able to get him out on the ice. We don't go on the ice the times we've been there, and that kind of change takes time for him. Twenty to thirty minutes of time on a good day. He wouldn't have understood the concept of what was going on, and why he was supposed to sing. Had we gotten him on the ice, he most likely would have taken off, giggling and laughing, and shouting, "slippery Momma, slippery!" as he ran and slid across the ice. The crowd cheering and applauding would have driven him back in to our arms.
Saturday was Senior Night. Now, for years I've avoided that night. To stand there and watch moms and dads walk out and be honored for their contribution on this night was too much. Knowing we would never be there. We would never have a child to take pride in his accomplishments, to see them take the floor for the last time. We wouldn't have the first time, how could we have a last time. So I stayed home Senior Night. Then we got our miracle. I haven't made many Senior nights still, but now it's because I'm busy raising our own son. This was only the second one I've made since Finn was born. But we were talking about it on the way to the arena. In all likelihood, we still won't be attending Senior Night. Not just because hockey is unlikely to be on our list of sports because of cost and time commitments. Any team sport is unlikely to be in our future. But optimism was already raising it's head. It might not be hockey, but it will be something. Despite everything, at some point we will be able to stand there and nod at each other and smile, because "that's our son!" It might be Cross Country, it might be Eagle Scout, it may be the winter concert, or even graduation. There are a lot more parents that don't walk out on the ice for Senior Night than there are those that do.
The final weekend of the hockey season seemed to be nothing but a bunch of reminders of what we don't have. When I think about how many years I thought we'd have nothing, it seems churlish to be disappointed about the things we won't have. There are so many things we do have.
We have Finn. This wonderful, energetic, funny, frustrating, beautiful, mischievous, helpful, destructive, loving boy. Over five years since we learned that I was pregnant. That was a Christmas to remember. Seventeen years of infertility, three separate doctors and differing attempts to have a child, leading to acceptance that it wasn't going to happen, and then that amazing day. Not surprisingly, 5 years later, thinking about those first days too much can make me cry. All through that pregnancy I asked over and over, let him be healthy, let him be healthy (despite everyone that "knew" he was going to be a girl, I was positive it was a boy) let him be healthy. And he is. We have the occasional cold, one nasty bout of stomach flu, and seasonal allergies. But he's healthy and growing. Sometimes I wonder if I should have been more specific. Because autism isn't really a health issue. It can create some, but we seem to not have those issues. Finn was recently given an educational diagnosis of mild to moderate autism. It affects our lives in a lot of ways. But, when I really think about it, when I really look at what parts of life are important, I know that it doesn't matter in the least.
What matters is that right now, right this minute, there is a small boy cuddled up against me. He's watching Oomi Zoomi, and cuddling with his favorite blankets, his brand new,(chosen by him) racing flag pillow, and momma. What could Senior Night have that compares to being ranked amongst your child's things that make him feel safe?