James and Johnny had a great early morning playing outside on this beautiful Spring day, looking for the woodpecker they heard and pointing out all the new flowers starting to come up. Then it happened. The moment I dread each year, hoping this year won't be as bad as the last, but knowing it will be, understanding that it will mark the beginning of a four month painful process of de-sensitizing and constant vigilance. The high pitch scream and slamming door signaling that James had seen his first bee of the season.
It is exactly the same as last year, and the year before that. The songs and games we rehearsed when he was younger have done nothing to ease his fear. The efforts to explain that bees are more afraid of him because he is so much bigger and are only trying to help the flowers go unheard. The social stories, the attempts to get him used to the noise - all useless. None of them help because of his acute sensory issues. He has amazing hearing and is hyper-aware of the insects darting around him. He can hear a fly in another room of the house, or a bee from across the yard, and have the same reaction as I do when a mosquito flies closely by my ear in the middle of the night. He reacts with absolute fright every time he hears that sound or sees something fly by.
To complicate the situation, I first fell in love with our English Cottage style house because of the southern facing front yard and beautiful ivy covered brick wall that runs across the width of the house, just steps from the front door. It is seriously a gardener's paradise! I got to work as soon as we moved in and soon had a garden that would ensure bright blooms all spring and summer long.and fragrance as soon as you stepped out the front door, flowering shrubs and plants all around the front stoop.
It is exactly what I envisioned, but is it now making James' spring and summer complete hell. He can't even go out the front door without facing his worst fear each time. So as I sat outside this afternoon soaking up the warm sun and starting to plan how to improve on my garden this year, I was acutely aware of my son sitting alone in the living room, and I realized that the garden is no longer even part of my vision.
My vision is not for one of my kids to be sitting on the couch asking me "why are there bees and flies" every 2 seconds. It is to have them running in and out of the front door all summer with the kids across the street, playing tag, tracking in mud and sand, asking for popsicles and driving me absolutely crazy. It is to have to call the boys in to get ready for bed after them playing outside all day, and for them to beg for 5 more minutes. It is for my boys, both of them, to be looking for bugs under rocks and tramping through tall grass without me having to be right there, waiting for the scream to come.
So instead of looking at what plants I can add to my garden to make it more beautiful in my own eyes, this year I'm going to figure out how I can change it so that my son thinks it is beautiful too. I may end up with a garden that is very different than the one I originally envisioned, but I guess that is the whole point of what we do as parents. We have to give our kids the experience they need, no matter what the "it" is or why they may need it, even if it means giving up one we once thought was important.
He runs to make his mind still, to organize himself and to get rid of the noise from this loud, confusing world. The more he's moved, the more he's introduced patterns and rhythm into his routine. Laps around the house are a daily ritual. He's made it more complex as he's developed, but the basics are the same. There is a pattern of movement -- specific foot patterns based on whatever song or chant he chooses to accompany the run, and he can not be stopped until he is ready to be.
This is James, and this is our story.
This is James, and this is our story.