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There’s Hope!

March 4, 2013

by Raphael James

IMG_3813JJ edit

© 2013 Jaydn James Photography

This has not been the school year that we anticipated it would be.  My little man is growing up. He’s getting bigger…stronger.

His tantrums have escalated instead of tapering off like we had prayed they would.  Language has come bursting through, and we’re eternally grateful for that, however navigating through his storms of spontaneous rage has been taxing on everyone at home and at school.

School.  He hasn’t been kicked out of his school, but it seems they have taken him as far as he can go. We’ve had to admit that maybe this isn’t the best placement for him. BUT there’s HOPE…

Because our weekdays are so hectic, my family LIVES for the weekend!  We don’t always have money to spend on movies and entertainment, but we know how to have fun on a budget.  It helps that we live in the Charleston, SC area, ranked one of the most desirable cities in the world.  Our kids have taken to calling our weekly outings, adventures. A pretty fitting name for the excursions too, because seldom do we know where we’re going to wind up, nor do we know what’s going to happen once we get there.

Riverwatch Memorial Park, Mt

The Ravenel Bridge and Riverwatch Memorial Park Pier

Generally, we’ll choose some public park or attraction.  If the weather’s nice we may go to Mount Pleasant and spend a few hours at Riverwatch Park in the shadow of the Ravenel Bridge and walk along the pier.  Rainy days might find us at the Children’s Museum or the South Carolina Aquarium (best annual passes we ever paid money for)!  Nothing punctuates our Daycation like a trip to Guerin’s Pharmacy in Summerville, SC. It has sat on the corner of town square since the 1870’s.  One day we gave each of our children four shiny quarters and sent them into the pharmacy. We encouraged them to spend it ALL in the same place! The oldest one was insulted, at first! But moments later they all came out with HUGE smiles and their own individual bags filled with a days supply of treats for our adventure. Days like that are THE BEST!

But then there are the other days. Days when little man’s disposition threatens to ruin the fun for everyone. Days when maybe he gets overstimulated by the candy. Or days when even though we’ve gone to all of his favorite spots he’s just not ready to go home. Or days when he for no reason at all takes off running through the store. There are times when we have to correct him or (God forbid) tell him NO! That really sets him off. You haven’t felt what uncomfortable feels like until you feel the eyes of judgement boring a hole in your back as you try to console an inconsolable little boy who has been diagnosed with autism.

This past weekend we did our family thing. After church we decided to pay a visit to the Charleston County Public Library. The library is fascinating, a learning headquarters. The stories of her patrons  vary as greatly as the contents of her shelves. There you’ll find teachers,students, artists, and future doctors.   For some it is a safe harbor for the mind to relax and be gently massaged. For others it is shelter from cold wind and rain; a dry sanctuary for a few hours.

When we we first arrived I noticed an older man with a scruffy beard and overcoat browsing through the stacks.  My family crossed the bridge from the adult section to the children’s section of the library. Everything was going fine until Grant tore loose from my grip and went running back across the bridge to the adult section with a big smile.

Here we go I thought.  Before I could get to him I saw the man with a scruffy beard slowly, but frantically, shuffling over towards Grant. With arms waving and a scratchy voice that barely  registered above a whisper he admonished Grant, “Hey, you can’t run in here!”

By this point I had caught up with Grant unsure of how he was going to react, ready to offer the stranger and anyone else within earshot my deepest apology. But before I could, Grant looked at the man and asked “What is his name?”

Grant is a great reader and often looks to read name tags or badges to find out peoples names. There was no name tag so I said to Grant, “I don’t know you’ll have to ask him.”  So he did.

Barely above a whisper the man said, “Donald. My name is Donald.”

Grant took it from there. “Hi Donald. I’m sorry Donald.”

Donald looked back at him said, “That’s OK” and shuffled back to whatever he’d been doing.  As we WALKED back to the children’s section I was amazed at what had just happened.  My son had just taken criticism from a stranger without launching into a full-bore meltdown!  Not only that, but he apologized all on his own and carried the conversation!  In our world, that is a major moment.  Donald didn’t have to get the autism speech, because this was an “autism-less” moment.

As I relayed this account to my wife we tried to understand why Grant responded differently this time. It could have been that, though Donald was animated his voice was not loud and angry. We have both seen how this can set Grant off. It could have been that he knew he was wrong for running off like that anyway. Or maybe it was because…he’s growing up.  We couldn’t really put our finger on WHY he behaved the way he did, but because he DID behave the way he did, there was hope that it would become a habit. There was hope that the self control and manners we have been trying to teach had finally kicked in.

Every morning while Grant is waiting for his bus to come he requests that we play a song on YouTube by India.Arie. The song is called There’s Hope!  I listened to it with a new appreciation this morning because, THERE IS HOPE! There is hope that today will be a better day than the other day. There is hope that he will learn to control his reaction to certain stimuli. There is hope that my kid can show the world the sweet, rational and funny side of him that I see everyday.

And if you needed a reason to smile, to believe, and to dream then here it is…THERE IS HOPE!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. L.James permalink
    March 4, 2013 10:46 pm

    Thank God for allowing us to experience these unexpected moments of joy and reward that enrich our faith and give us hope for even greater things to come.

  2. March 4, 2013 10:06 pm

    Love it. The sights of Charleston, sounds of running feet, scent of old and new books in public libraries, and the “feel” of a good heartwarming story. Keep them coming.

  3. Patricia Palmer permalink
    March 4, 2013 10:36 am

    There’s Hope…hope is not mere expectation and desire as in Greek literature, but includes trust, confidence, refuge in God, Christ in you is the hope of GLORY…Hope is linked with FAITH!!!

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