Just Like Any Other Seven Year Old Boy

He was sitting in the chair watching tv – just like any other 7 year old boy – and for just a moment it broke my heart because he isn’t like any other 7 year old boy.

He has autism. He doesn’t talk. He can’t always make his hands go where you tell him to. He can’t tell you where he hurts. He isn’t potty-trained.

There are so many things he can’t do – might never do – and if you start thinking about it, ‘what he can’t do’ can take over your thoughts – and worries will consume your mind.

Then he looks at you and smiles…and suddenly, you can focus on what he can do. He can hug you and mean it. He can run and jump and walk on a board 4 inches wide for days.

He can grab a cookie faster than you can grab him. And he can play a mean milk jug – and a laundry detergent bottle – and any metal tin he can find. On them, he taps out a message in a language only he can truly understand – but he loves it – and that’s all that really matters.

He can laugh – oh, how he can laugh. Sometimes you know why he’s laughing – because he got that cookie before you could stop him – and he knows this time you will let him have it.

Sometimes, it’s because you tickled him and he wants to interact with you and have that human contact we all crave. And sometimes, he just laughs. He laughs at some joke he told himself or at some memory he replayed in his head or maybe, he saw some comedy in our world we’ve grown too tragic to see – but he does – and he laughs.

There’s a quote from a movie that says, ‘The world’s a hard place for little things’. It’s also a hard place for ‘different’ things. Like everyone who loves someone who is ‘different’, I worry.

I worry about his present and I worry about his future. I worry who will take care of him when he’s not little. I worry who will take care of him when he’s not cute. I worry.

I worry about people who don’t understand – who won’t understand – who will use his condition as an excuse to be unkind, inhuman, and evil. I worry.

And then he smiles – just like any other 7 year old boy – and my heart is filled with love – and a gentle grace  – because he is different. He is special. And my life is better because he’s in it. He brings out a better side of me and

I’ve seen him do the same to other people. When they meet him, they slow down a moment and they, too smile – and while I know they are secretly asking “Why?” – they are also reaching into their heart and finding a kindness they don’t always remember they have and a softness they don’t always allow themselves to feel.

All because a little boy who’s ‘different’ smiled. 

The bad stuff may happen – some will happen – but not today.

Today, I tell myself, it’s going to be alright.

And I smile.

Written by, Lisha Hinton Hopper

Lisha and her husband, Rodney have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. She is retired and since the pandemic began, she is helping homeschool the 3 grandchildren who live next door. Happily, that includes Denver – her milk jug tapping, ‘hobbit trail’ jumping, popsicle eating, slack line balancing, swing loving, sometimes smiling grandboy.

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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