>> Monday, April 5, 2010
In our town, we have quaint old brick buildings with narrow store fronts which have evolved from barber shops and fruit stores (in the days of my youth,) into fine gift and espresso shops. We have wide and tidy sidewalks and striped awnings. We have shops that string evergreen boughs with white lights at Christmas-time and create Anne Geddes-like displays at Easter-time. Our town is rich in colonial history and unique architecture, with a prestigious prep school smack dab in the middle of it. On any given day, you will find the downtown area electric with visitors, parents with babies in strollers, joggers, friendly dogs on leashes. Occasionally we spot someone with celebrity status walking our picturesque streets. The town is a living village, if you hang around long enough you will swear it breathes.
(Photo credit: Kathy Yazinka)
And behind those fashionable and gourmet store fronts is a water dam with a rushing, white capping river and a boardwalk. The little people are always fascinated by the river, and since we live within walking distance, it's an interesting place for an excursion. There's ducks and seagulls and rocks to throw... (not at the ducks and seagulls.)
It seems like that boardwalk calls their names. Recently, when I brought Caden to an eye appointment (perfect vision, by the way!) he begged me and begged me to let him walk on the boardwalk behind the buildings. It was raining and windy, but I let him have a few minutes to walk along the water and throw bagged cereal to the seagulls. I learned two things that day, Caden doesn't care about getting cold and wet as long as he's having fun doing it, and seagulls do not like Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
I'll admit, the thought of bringing Caden anywhere near rushing water still makes my heart skip for a second, and makes me feel like my breath has been snatched away. Caden... pre-autism-diagnosis... decided to climb over the metal railing at the top of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls in 2006. It happened in a blink of an eye while we (with two of our friends) were snapping pictures of our kids. (By the way, that is not a good example of how to effectively grow kids!) It was one of those life changing moments that I will never forget, I think the experience probably shaved ten years off of my overall life span, and it was just one more red flag for us at the time.
This picture was taken just minutes before he climbed over. See the top of the falls? See that steep and short embankment on the other side of the railing? *shudder* See that determined look on Caden's face? That, my friends, is a telling example of the dangerously serious poor impulse control we dealt with for the first five or so years of Caden's life.
But as our little maker of mischief has grown, he has shed so many of his symptoms of autism. And whether it was just age or his own personal improvement that caused it, we are so grateful that he can now stand on a boardwalk by himself and blow bubbles.
And we're so grateful for the two other little people in our lives, who in some ways have had to be the older siblings to their big brother, but are now able to have a big brother who plays with them and shares the things he learns at school. They can share their imaginations with him, and he shares his back. In so many ways, our two littlest have had to be more serious than the average five and three year old, and that makes my heart hurt a little, but also makes me even more grateful for the little souls that bless our family and make us complete. We love these little folk.
And Caden... he astonishes me every day. Autism tried to take our baby from us, but we are getting him back, more and more as each day passes. From the little boy who didn't talk, to the little boy who won't ever stop talking, the little boy who wouldn't play with other kids, to the kid who wants his whole class to come to his birthday party.
You are amazing, Caden. I love you.