Your Most Important Tools

I was able to do one of my most favorite things today – chaperone a class field trip. I was with my daughter’s 3rd grade class at a living history presentation about the daily lives of Native Americans. The educator giving the tour asked, “What was the most important tool the native people had?” My daughter raised her hand and without hesitation answered, “Hope and positivity!”

The answer momentarily threw the educator off – it was a good answer, just not the physical thing that he as actually asking about (by the way – the answer he was looking for was tree sap!) After I got over stifling my giggles behind my hand, I stopped and thought about her answer. There is no doubt they did need a ton of hope and positivity, as well as perseverance, faith, (and tree sap) to make it through. Then my thoughts went a little deeper and I realized that the most important tools I actually have in my personal parenting tool kit are…hope, positivity, perseverance and faith.

Hope for a better tomorrow for both of my kids. Positivity, along with humor, to get me through the toughest of times. Perseverance to get my son the right diagnosis in order to get the help he needs. Faith that even in the darkest times, God has us in his hand.

Hope, positivity, perseverance and faith have served me well so far in both parenting and life. I’d like to think that my daughter’s answer is something of a reflection on what she sees in me, but I think she was probably echoing something her amazing 3rd grade teacher said in a social studies lesson. Even so, if she has latched onto that concept at the age of 9, I feel pretty good about how she’ll fare in this world as she grows up. Being a neuro-typical younger sibling to a neuro-diverse older brother who also struggles with anxiety and panic is hard. I spend as much time worrying about how she is fairing,  as I do getting my son the care and support he needs. Hearing her unwavering conviction in the power of hope and positivity helps me to know she’s going to be just fine. 

My son, is a different story. It’s hard to have hope or be positive when you’re struggling under the weight of anxiety and panic. It’s hard to persevere when it takes so much energy just to survive. So I need to have enough of all of those things to get us both through the the dark days and have faith that there are better days ahead. 

Hope, positivity, perseverance and faith are my most important tools.  (Although I also now have a wealth of information on ways to use tree sap should the need arise!)What are your most important tools?

The Kindness of Strangers

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Friday was my birthday and we took a family trip to Universal Studios. Given the extreme anxiety and panic attacks our son has been experiencing recently, we knew chances were high for him to experience some level of difficulty during the day. We also knew this was something he really wanted to do, so we were willing to take the chance.

The day was full of brief periods of wonderful (the Wizarding World of Harry Potter really is AMAZING!), long periods of horrible, and one amazing moment of beauty that came through the kindness of a stranger.

Midway through the day we were standing in line to see the animal show. At some point, the line moved just enough to stop us in a tunnel (dark and loud) with a crowd of people. Our son was already challenged by having to stand in line near people he did not know, when the line stopped in that tunnel it was to turn his high anxiety levels into a panic attack. He was sweating, hyperventilating, crying, pulling at this clothes and trying to curl up into a ball in the middle of the crowded line. We were trying to give him as much space as we could, and also attempting to talk him through the attack. My husband was looking around to find the quickest way to get him out, and suddenly I heard a voice from behind me ask, “Is he okay? Does he need more space?”

I turned around to find a young adult male and a middle aged woman. The woman had been the one to ask the question, but it was what the young man did next that changed the course of the next few minutes and left a lasting impression on me. He moved just slightly forward, only close enough so that he could bend down and look my son in the eyes. Once he had eye contact he very quietly said, “You’re going to be okay,” and then asked him some questions about Harry Potter and what part he liked the best. My son did not answer the questions, but he did slow down his breathing and that was enough to get him through until the line moved out of the tunnel.

Once the line began moving, I lost track of the young man. I wanted to thank him for the simple kindness and genuineness of his gesture. In a day that had been filled with challenge, that young man was a bright spot. He reminded me that there angels everywhere, and gave me the moment that may have been my best birthday present this year – the pure joy on my son’s face as he watched that animal show.