The Blue Horse.

I walk my little boy into his kindergarten class.  A hurried morning as usual, I did not have time to give all the kisses and hugs I wanted to bestow on his adorable little face before we left home.  He was a bit of a sleepy bumblehead and quiet (odd that) for the trip down the hill to school.

Walking in to class, there was no tutor.  I checked my phone.  No message.  She must be running late.  I stepped in and helped my son with his morning routine.  He took off his coat, put away his water bottle, took out his folder and disappeared to a large round table where no one was sitting.  There was a bottle of Elmer’s Glue there though and he had grabbed it.  He was about to have his way with it when I prompted him to go sit down at his table.

He sits at a rectangular table (dubbed “the orange group”  for the orange plastic container of crayons).  The teachers had laid out an assignment which was a piece of paper with drawings of animals and the instruction to color the ones that live on the farm.

There are two other students who sit with him at that table, a boy and a girl.  They were already there, coloring.  Very nicely, I might add, inside the lines and with the appropriate colors.  My son sits down on the one seat at the table with no paper.  I prompt him to say hello to his friends.  (I’m not sure of their names).  Looking off in the distance, like the captain of a ship at sea, he softly, sing-songy greets them with “Hi Friends!” making no eye contact with anything.

Classic pondering.

I asked him, “Aren’t you supposed to sit in the chair with the paper?”  Before he can process the question, the girl at the table, listening to us, grabbed the paper and kindly put it in front of my son.  I prompted him to thank her.  He did so without looking at her.  He was mumbling to himself, contorting his face, as if in deep, reflective thought about the meaning of the Universe.

I asked him to read the instruction.  He stared into space.  He did not look down at the paper.  The little boy volunteered that they were supposed to color in the farm animals.  The girl added a similar instruction.  They were very sweet, trying to help.  They did not understand that I just wanted my son to land his spaceship on his “orange table” and color his farm animals.  I had my doubts about whether he would simply grab a crayon and color them all.

He seemed to half-glance at the paper while grabbing absently for a crayon.   Still engaged in muttering beneath his breath, he was deeply enveloped in a discussion with himself.  The talk itself is always in a rhythm.  There is a cadence and a flow to his muttering.  He will drag out a word or a syllable and ponder.  I asked him to do some ABA compliance instructions, such as touching his nose and clapping, to assure he was focusing on the job at hand.  After a 5 second delay he complied.  Then, he began harshly assaulting the defenseless cow with a black crayon.

“How about if we try to stay inside the lines?”  I asked him.  The little boy across from us pointed out how his drawing was inside the lines.  It was.  It was well colored, brown with spots, just beautiful, and I complimented his work.  Meanwhile, my own son chose to color his horse white, but seeing that was invisible, he chose two shades of blue.  He made his chicken “nude”, his cow black, pink for his pig.  He completed his farm animals absently and perfectly, never desecrating the lion or turtle with crayon.

Still, no tutor.  She had texted that she was around the corner though, having been required to take a detour for some construction.  I asked my son if he should put his name on the paper.  The little boy answered for him.  “Yes.  We put our first AND last names on,” he volunteered.  The little girl then added, “We only put our last names if we WANT to!”  They both turned their papers over to write their names on the back.

Still, not a word from my son, but he turned his paper over.  I handed him a blue crayon as he was going to try the white again.  He began writing his name.  The teacher walked by, and advised the little boy across from us that the capitol “J” for his name was written backward.  I secretly sighed relief that this boy was not perfect.  Tootles wrote his name just fine!

The tutor walked in and took over.  I said goodbye and with a kiss on his head and no response or eye contact from him in return, I left.

I knew it was coming.  I fought the wind to get my car door open.  It was cold.  The skies were alternating between sun and clouds, mimicking my emotions.  I started the engine.  I got ready to put it in reverse and pull out of the parking lot.  And then, truly and honestly, I knew my eyes were wet.  A couple of tears fell.  My selfish insides were ‘outted’ by my stupid eye sockets.

Those two children I never spoke with before, answered me so quickly in that 90-120 second exchange. they almost made my head spin, never seeking me to repeat what I was saying.  It was so different.  Yes, I know it was meaningless chatter.  It was on the topic. It was immediate.  It was responsive.

It was everything I never had with my own child.  And for the next few minutes, I sat, selfishly mourning the loss of what never was.  Of what will never be.  It was silent.  I was alone.  I dabbed my eyes with an old Happy Meal napkin.  I checked my eyes in the rear view mirror.  The eye liner and mascara were gone.

I love my son just as he is.  But I was sad that morning.  Life will always be different.  I will always be part of a minority, misunderstood, tribe of parent warriors who are not supposed to have pity parties, or to show their tears.  Because it’s not about us.  And in keeping with that unwritten code, I cried alone, in the confines of my parked car, silently. As I drove away, my eyes continued to leak here and there.

What I could not brush away with the old napkin, the wind took care of when I opened the car door again, and went to work.

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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17 Responses to The Blue Horse.

  1. Deenie says:

    We are the minority indeed. But I’m confident that there isn’t ONE SINGLE PARENT of a child with special needs that hasn’t cried alone in their car or in a closet or in a bathroom. Or all 3. It sucks in a lot of ways. But the love takes over and we just keep moving and putting one foot in front of the other and we do what we have to do. Hang in there. You’re sooooooo not alone in this.

    • solodialogue says:

      You know it. It’s just part of the package. It’s the part that we all experience but don’t like to talk about. Writing this was a release. With writing it, I could let it go and move on. Together, we parents are like a tribe, and even when we bicker, we know this feeling with deep understanding. For me, that is healing. Thanks for your words.

  2. Hugs, Karen. Just big hugs.

    Going in to our children’s classroom is never easy. I volunteered to chaperone a field trip last week and still haven’t been able to come to term with my feelings from the event. Like you, I had more immediately-relevant conversation with Little Miss’s classmates in that 45 minutes than I have with Little Miss in a week. I watched as her classmates guided her and helped to correct her. And I was so angry with them. With everyone.

    For the record, I think the blue horse is lovely and I know Little Miss would agree (her first choice in crayon color is blue — ALL. THE. TIME.)

    Hang in there.

    • solodialogue says:

      Big hugs back, Karla. There is our deep love for our child and the fear for them, but inside me I’d be lying if I did not say there was a bit of selfish sorrow of my own. I think it’s healthy for me to see it and own it and then let it go. So that’s what I’ve done here. It stung and lingered for a day and then it was gone. I know I’ll feel it again but I think that’s okay. I’m not alone. It’s normal and then I get my focus back on what is important. If we don’t let it go, then it might end up out of proportion, you know? xoxo

  3. Lizbeth says:

    But here’s the thing Karen–you are allowed to shed those tears here because here you’re NOT a minority. You are among those who “get it” and understand what you are going through. Sure T is different, but aren’t we all? I know this road is long, hard and brings us to our knees sometimes. That is when you have the likes of us to stand behind you, grab your shoulders and get you back on your feet again.

    Alex would draw like that. All the fine motor and finger graspy stuff was too much for him. He settled on putting an X on what needed to be colored. Eventually he told me he didn’t see the purpose of coloring so he simply would not do it.

    And the drawings are beautiful. They are Tootles and he’s getting the main point behind what the paper’s asking right? He’s just doing it in his way.

    And that way is beautiful.

    • solodialogue says:

      Have I told you lately how awesome you are? Because you are! I love our Internet community! It keeps me sane. You knew how important it would be to me to hear about Alex so you told me and it helps. Thank you, Lizbeth. ❤

  4. Grace says:

    *sigh* Your posts always take me back two years, to when my son was in Kindergarten. Our experiences are so similar. This post made me remember my son’s Halloween parade that year, after which I sat in my car in the school parking lot and sobbed. But your posts also make me appreciate the progress my son has made since Kindergarten. I don’t say that in a gloating way, I say that to try to encourage you. Tootles is getting a lot of support and love. He will get there.

    I think it’s even more shocking for us parents of singletons when we encounter normies because we have no benchmark for “typical.” I would have reacted exactly as you did.

    • solodialogue says:

      I ❤ you Grace. So true, that with the "single" child, it is a bit shocking when we have these exchanges with the NTs. I'm always looking for progress wherever I can see it and I'm glad I can look to you and Ryan… Thank you for being here. xoxo

  5. Beautiful voice to this piece of prose. A world many of us moms with children with special needs can relate to. Thank you.

  6. Lana Rush says:

    Oh Miss Karen.

    Days like that, I just can’t help but think of what the future holds for the Bird. And yes, she makes progress but then when I spend time with kids of her age (or younger), I realize that they are making progress, too. And lengthening that chasm between my sweet girl and them even more.

    And that is when I have to do exactly what you did – get it out there, cry, blog about it… and wait for all the encouragement that I know is going to come pouring in from my sweet online community. And then I can move on, with their words ringing in my ears, and face a new day.

    I am glad for you, my friend, and I am glad that here, we are not the minority.

  7. Teresa says:

    Oh Karen, we are sending many hugs to you and all of your readers. I wish I could tell you there won’t be other such days <<>> but they will come. And some days will seem quite dreadful. And sometimes you as mom will not act appropriately…like when my very close friend’s son graduated from high school and I couldn’t go to the party because our boys were the same age. I saw the boys on two very divergent paths. Continued prayers that you don’t have to go through such challenges.
    I do think your son finds coloring to be very plebeian therefore does this task grudgingly. He will excel in other areas. You’ll see.
    Stay strong but know, it’s okay to cry. Crying gives us an outlet to emotion we seldom show to outsiders.

  8. Kelly Hafer says:

    Isn’t it amazing how we can become oblivious to our kiddos’ differences from their NT peers, and then – BAM! It hits us like a 2×4 right between the eyes! As horrible as this sounds, I don’t like being around NT kiddos anymore. I love my son with all my heart, and I am really proud of how good he is, finally, doing right now. Seeing the NTs just takes my breath away and I don’t like the feelings I feel. I don’t like being reminded of differences. I’d rather be in my own little world with my little men, loving them for who they are.

  9. What a beautiful post. It captures all the things I’d like to say and more. I don’t know what else to say that hasn’t already been said yet. The comments have been really great.

    Tootles’ pictures are beautiful… And he wrote his name perfectly!! I know we all still have a long way to go, but we’re getting there! I’m reminded of a post I read not too long ago, chronicling the life of a child with ASD. He didn’t become verbal till he was ten! But went on to go to college etc. I always like to think of those types of stories when my reality hits me too hard because there’s really no knowing how far they will go or when they’ll start.

    You’ve been working your butt off to give T the best possible start in life. And you’re doing an *amazing* job. My little guy’s just a bit younger than yours, so I always look to your posts as a little glimpse into our future, and they always fill me with hope. You’re an awesome mom and I just know that things will keep getting easier and easier for all of us. Cause we and our kids work so hard at it. The fruits we reap are so much sweeter because of this.

    **massive hugs**

  10. jentroester says:

    I talk to other 8yo girls and I am blown away by the differences. Sometimes I think K is doing SO well, then I interact with one of her peers, and it’s like a whole different world. The older they get, the more obvious some deficits become, which can be really sad. I’ve definitely had my moments. But, K has also come a LONG way, and hopefully things will keep getting better. And even if she is never a chatterbox, or masters every social skill, things will be OK anyway…even if they are different.

  11. eof737 says:

    Sending you a virtual hug… not easy but be strong Karen… Tootles is doing his best now…

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