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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fill My Yard With Bikes

Today was the epitome of a kid's greatest summer day. We didn't have any therapies (shocker, I know), and no plans, so we spent the day at home. The kids had a bunch of friends come over to play, and they were busy and happy all day long. There were what seemed like dozens of bikes tossed in our yard as neighbor friends came running to play. There were quite possibly hundreds of shoes strewn in our entryway. There were laughing, joyful screeches coming from our yard all day. Kids- in and out- upstairs and down- on walks to the forest preserve and treks to neighbors' houses- all day long. It was wonderful.

It's funny to see Jonah and Ben with their friends now. They're all so old, and they've known each other for 7 years. When we moved here, they were all teeny little almost-kindergartners. This year they will all begin middle school together. When the kids come over and hang out here, it's amazing just how much space they take up, compared to when Ella's little friends play here! How did these kids get so big? Ben and Jonah will take their friends to the backyard to lounge on the hammock or to the basement to play. And it feels like I have a house full of teenagers! I don't know how that happened! They were all just babies! I'll check in on the kids to make sure all is well and everyone is doing ok (and behaving), and the boys get their grownup voices on and say "Uh, yeah Mom, we're FINE."

Today as I listened to the sounds of happy kids, I felt so wonderful knowing that each of my kids has good friends. We have a life full of support and love and good friends. Despite so many challenges and difficult moments, my kids are still liked by their peers and loved by their friends. Neighbor parents could easily say they don't want their children playing with ours because of some "special need issues" that are inappropriate in normal life- things like one of my kids yelling swear words at a friend when he's angry. But the parents of the boys' friends understand that our boys have good, kind hearts, and sometimes their special needy brains just go "wacky," as Ben says. That's not the TRUE them, and the people who are closest to us know that. 

Today I was grateful for the sounds of summer fun coming through all my windows and filling our home with childhood happiness. Social skills are something that so many kids who have special needs struggle with, and so it makes today even more meaningful to know that my kids were able to just hang out with friends from morning until night, using appropriate social skills all day long. We didn't have any fights, or swearing, or yelling, or arguments about whose turn it was for the computer. It was just a day like summer days should be, and I don't take that for granted. Thank you, to my children's friends, for being kind and understanding to my children. You all hold a very very special place in my heart.

So come on over, sweet friends. Fill my kitchen up with growing bodies looking for food in every crevice. Fill my basement with hooting laughter. Fill my yard with bikes and my entryway with shoes. Fill my driveway with chalk-drawn monsters. Fill my hammock with stories. Fill my bathroom with forgotten Barbies. Fill my children's hearts with camaraderie and youthful, careless bliss. Fill our summer days with joy. You are loved and appreciated.

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