I watched you as you carried the metal chair to the end if the pool. I saw you very carefully arrange a towel on the seat and place a stuffed fish on the towel, so it was looking over the pool. This was after you had already spent several precious minutes of the 40 minute swimming lesson speaking encouragement to your child. I wondered of the presence of so many other kids had overwhelmed her. I did not hear what you said to her but I imagine you were telling her that she was okay and everything was going to be okay that you would help her.
I watched you finally get her to the edge of the pool. You had laminated picture cards for the coach and your daughter, presumably to help ensure her of what is going to happen and that she has done this before and she can do it again.
I held my breath as you stood next to her at the edge of the pool. She needed to jump in. The swim coach was waiting for her and half the lesson time was already gone.
You never once expressed frustration at her hesitation. You just waited and encouraged, recognizing she needed to do this on her own time.
When she finally jumped in, I very nearly stood up and applauded her with you. What joy there was in that moment. She made me feel successful and I did not do a thing but watch!
I saw you do this whole routine the last swimming lesson and the lesson before that. And I suspect n the lesson before that one.
This is the reality of your life.
I could not help but think of my own kids, about how I could tell them to get in the water and they would. I don't have to convince or comfort them. They don't need a set if specific circumstances to be okay. They handle change well. A skill that I take for granted. But I bet you don't.
One in 68 children are diagnosed with autism in this country.
That means 1 in less than 100 families are affected by autism, some with multiple children on the spectrum.
These are moms, dads, sisters and brothers.
Today, and now twice every week, I am reminded to pray for these families. I am reminded to take nothing for granted.
Hug all your kids today - if they will let you. Not every parent has this luxury.