The last couple of weeks, the world has seemed especially chaotic. When there is stress “out there,” I find that one of the calming things that I can do is to intentionally enjoy putting my son to bed. I’ll admit, there are many days where I have seen this as a chore and a process that must be shortened. However, this time of sock feet and pajamas has proven to be a valuable part of our relationship.
We are currently reading a wonderful new book together. Wonder (written by R.J Palacio) is about a boy who was born with some physical deformities that make him unique. The target age for this book is 9-14 years old so I fully expected that I would do the majority of the reading. Although my son is a very good reader, the small text with this type of book is often tiring for him…especially at the end of the day.
Because of the typical holiday stress and the tragic shooting, I was even more excited to check off the last day of school and spend a few weeks of quality time with my boy. He watched an extra show and did a bit of drawing in his bed because we didn’t have to be as strict about bedtime.
When his drawing time was finished, I asked if he wanted me to read to him. He usually prefers that I do most of the reading, but he insisted that I should be the audience for the next chapter. This chapter spoke to him. The boy questioning how he would fit in with others and knowing that he was different from the others was a relatable topic. He continued to read and there were a few phrases that hit especially close to our home and my heart.
When the chapter was over, I insisted that it was time for lights out. I told him that we would read more tomorrow and I was thrilled that he was looking forward to more reading of this book.
My son buried himself in his blankets and then pushed his face out from the side of this cozy mound.
“Mama? Am I unique? Are there things that are different about me than other kids?”
There was a long pause and all I could hear was the peaceful sound of birds chirping from his sound machine. I took a deep breath….here it is…this is when we are going to have a deep conversation about his sensory issues. His struggles to make friends with others and the real challenge to keep them for any length of time. He wants to know “what” he has or why he has had to go to the counselor for “Friendship Group.” He questions why he is in the principal’s office more than other students. I knew this day was coming, but I didn’t expect it so soon. Honestly, that was the reason for the initial draw to this book and the discussions that I suspected that it would begin.
As I am stalling to come up with a thoughtful explanation (which was my same reaction when he asked me what porn was a few weeks ago), he gets tired of waiting.
“I know how I am different…It’s because I have these beautiful, thick, dark eyelashes.”
I smiled and said…”Yes…you are so right.”
I then spent the next ten minutes sharing with him many of his strengths and some of the struggles that do make him unique. He loves to hear me talk about him when we are both sitting in the dark. I take comfort in knowing that no matter what the challenges of the day brought him, that he goes to sleep knowing that he is loved and that we love ALL of him.