Recently I took Eric to a local indoor water park for a few hours. He loved it. I had a few very interesting social observations.
One of the most obvious was how we, the parents of special needs kids, never miss a moment in our kids lives. We are ever present, hyper vigilant, (over bearing at times) and just stuck to them like their own shadow. I get to experience and watch 98% of every single thing my son does.
It dawned on me when I was watching two siblings fighting in the line for the slide–and I found myself looking around for their parents because they were really young. And well, they worked out their differences, but those parents will never know how sad their little girl was by how mean her brother was talking to her. And I’m sure 10 minutes later she was probably the one being mean to her brother – so it really isn’t the point. They were independently growing up and figuring it out on their own.
It dawned on me again later when I saw another small child screaming from the top of the play structure trying to get her parents attention, but they were yapping away to another set of adults and never heard her. She wanted to make sure her mom was witnessing the absolutely brave thing she was about to do. But they missed it. I saw it though – and gave her a little “thumbs up” as she got off the slide. (And she ran over to them afterwards and they were super happy to see her and watched the second time!)
So, while there I found like I was a bit of a family concierge, I was chasing after a mom who dropped an article of clothing because she was carrying so much stuff for her family that she never noticed she dropped it. I alerted the lifeguard that he needed to do some crowd control because a mom was trying to get situated on a tube with her very young child and was practically being trampled by kids pushing to get into the lazy river.
And that’s when it dawned on me again. How I never miss a moment in Eric’s life, how I really SEE people and their emotions and how their non-verbal actions speak volumes about how they are feeling. And I realized how blessed I am because Eric taught me how to be present and how to be there for as many moments as possible. Trust me there are many days I am envious of those parents who get to sit on a lounge chair, read a book or chat with other parents during an outing like this –but during this visit I felt like the lucky one.