While I was waiting for Noah's battery to rundown the other night I watched an episode of Parenthood on television. This particular episode had a storyline of a grandfather wanting to take his grandson who has Asperger's Syndrome camping. His parents, with obvious apprehensions allowed it, outlining a written guideline for a reference on how to handle situations with their son. The grandfather denied needing any kind of help. He had it covered. After all it was his grandson, how complicated could he really be?
I seen qualities that were so very familiar in that dynamic. The grandfather wasn't doubting that his grandson had such a diagnosis, but I don't believe he truly had a firm understanding of how difficult just one entire day was with a challenged child. He winds up calling the parents for help and advice after an apparent meltdown from his grandson, and after the parents had spoken to him on the phone magic words to calm and soothe his world, all was fine and they were able to finish their camping adventure. They both returned home to anxiously awaiting parents to hear how the trip went.
The grandfather admitted he really had no idea what they must experience as parents, but said his grandson was a great boy. You could tell this character had a new profound understanding of his special needs grandson. I hear a lot of special needs family with the same complications. It's a hard road to really understand unless you're personally living it and it affects your daily life in some way. You can be a family member - even a close one at that and unless you help daily, or often you may not fully realize what a day in a life for special needs really means.
You may hear your son, daughter, sister or brother, or best friend discuss what it's like to have a special needs child, you may sympathize and try to relate, but until you've had it land in your lap all alone - just you and that special needs child one on one, you can't truly ever know how hard it really is. Does this mean that every grandparent needs to go off on a trip with a special needs child? No. You have your own backyard to get to know them. Same is true with friendships that often become substitutes with family breakdowns. Spend time, not even necessarily alone. But take the time to see it, just not hear about it. Watch it with your eyes, so your heart has a greater understanding. We can speak a thousand words, try to describe it to the moon and back. But bear witness to it, just for a moment. Appreciate our experience, know that we're doing the best we can with circumstances that are often beyond our control. Give us that room and freedom that we need to cry, find our joy, celebrate inch-stones, and cry some more. Most importantly don't pass judgment.
A lesson that my mother reminds me of all the time. We came out of Target the other day and a young kid, who to me looked beyond irresponsible, probably lacking a job, potentially drug addicted, scruffy, and without manners to say please and thank you, pulled up in a white handicapped licensed car, which clearly wasn't his, asking for two dollars because he was hungry. I hesitated thinking there is nothing wrong with him and I didn't believe he was hungry and need two dollars. Yet my mother passing zero judgment, gladly hands over the last two dollar bills she has in her purse. And after he drives off she turns to me and says we must give him the benefit of the doubt and pray for him. I guess God couldn't have sent a better teacher for me to lead me by example. She was right as much as I could sit there and study this kid, it wasn't my place to judge, I wasn't in his shoes and maybe just maybe he was telling the truth and was indeed hungry. Who am I to judge? We've all got our personal struggles on this earth. With understanding comes profound love and acceptance.
Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.