A Moment in the Park

It was a beautiful evening. The puppy needed a walk, Gracie needed out of the house, so we went to the park. It was quiet, only a few kids here and there. Gracie was enjoying the playground and running around.

As she went around the side of the slide a little girl about her age said hello. Gracie stopped dead in her tracks.

She didn’t say hello back, she didn’t wave, not even a smile. She froze, panic on her face as she tried to think of something to do. It was like her brain knew she should do something but couldn’t remember what.

She settled on an awkward hand movement and walked away, leaving a look of bewilderment on that little girl.

My heart broke. I fought back tears, the same ones I am fighting as I type. You see, a few months ago Covid-19 stopped the world in it’s tracks but it knocked us off them completely. We lost every new skill we had. And we lost skills I thought we had a good handle on. Anxiety came flying back with a force I had never seen.

Every day has been hard and I’m not exaggerating.

Behaviors crept in, eating habits changed. Our good friend sleep troubles peeked in the doorway. Things kept getting worse. I tried to find the joy in each day but it was hard.

We fought back. We used first-then language for everything, we got outside, we found routine where we could. We took up hiking, got a puppy. Found things to keep her engaged and busy. We didn’t gain any ground but we didn’t lose any more…or so I thought.

Then tonight at the playground, I saw how much we had truly lost. How many steps back we took. It hurt me. I thought I had built up a tougher skin than that but I hadn’t. That 30 second interaction knocked the wind out of me and I still can’t catch my breath.

When this is all over and we go back to “normal” my friends’ kids will go back to the things they love, the friends they have and the hobbies they missed. They will talk about how crazy the whole thing was and how thankful they are it’s all ok.

Not us, we will be starting over. All the hard work for the last 3 years, erased. We will be at therapy, using the language, trying “new” foods. We will be working every day to claw back what we had. And we will, because my little girl is a warrior.

She will fight her way thru it and we will come out the other side. Maybe even better than before.

Written by, Noelle Lee

My name is Noelle and I am a mom to 2 wonderful kids and one adorable pug. Follow our autism journey on Instagram @live_love_learn_stim

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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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