Friend, Don’t Ever Downplay your Child’s Wins for Me

The other day I ran into an old friend at Target.

I hadn’t seen her in ages.

It was the same old story. Kids, jobs, chaos and time just slipped away.

Before we knew it a year had past since we last spoke.

We decided to stretch our time at Target and grab a coffee and chat.

One of the reasons that this friend and I initially bonded is because we both have kids on the spectrum.

We met at an advocacy event and connected immediately.

Both our boys were nonverbal, at the time 7 years old and no longer in public education.

It was like we were soulmates.

She immediately asked about Cooper and I gave her all the details.

I told her how parts were getting easier. But parts were also getting harder too.

We figured out the medication part. He was in the best therapy center for him.

He is trying to communicate. And it’s adorable.

I told her how he is starting to go places in the community. I filled her in on our success at the Zoo and Miracle League baseball.

And then touched on the hard parts. Because we live the same life I didn’t feel the need to sugarcoat them. And that’s the best feeling ever.

I told her how his meltdowns are getting so much worse. They rarely happen. But when they do…watch out.

I told her how I can’t contain him anymore and that I feel like a failure. I hate having to call Jamie because Cooper is simply too big for me to handle.

It’s the worst feeling ever.

I joked about how waking up before 5 AM is killing us and the thought of never sleeping in again is putting us over the edge.

She laughed and agreed.

And then we commiserated a bit about the forever of autism. How there are no breaks. And how Jamie and I worry about the future.

She said her and her husband have the same conversations. Always late at night after a few drinks or in the wee hours of the morning.

And then I asked her about her son.

And she got quiet and changed the subject to Sawyer. Which seemed strange.

So, I asked her again.

And she said, ‘He is talking now. It was like a switch flipped and now we can’t get him to stop talking. And I feel bad telling you that. Because I know how badly you want it too.’

I couldn’t believe it.

Not that he was talking. But that she was scared to tell me. My stomach dropped.

She went onto quote me. Something I say every so often.

‘Watching typical kids achieve milestones is one thing. But watching my son’s autistic peers move on stings more sometimes. It’s like we are forgotten.’

I didn’t know what to say.

So, I hugged her. And we cried. Both of us. Right there in Starbucks.

And I said, ‘nothing has ever made me happier than knowing Evan is talking. Please know that. I need a video right now.’

And she showed me one on her phone.

The little boy that I knew as nonverbal was talking away. Full sentences.

And I wrapped her up in the biggest hug ever.

I have never been more happy for anyone in my entire life than I was for this mama. My friend.

Later that night I spent some time thinking about what had happened.

I just want to say…

Please, don’t ever downplay your child’s success to spare my feelings.

There is nothing that I want more in this world than for your child to succeed. I promise.

Yes, when I get in the car later I may be jealous. I may wonder why not my son.

I am human. But I will quickly squash those feelings to celebrate your child.

And if it gets to be too hard for me…well, then I’ll take a breather.

But your child improving is the best thing ever.

Please know that.

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
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