If you could have anything in the world that you want, for 24 hours only, what would you ask for?
When a friend asked me this a few days ago, I answered immediately: “I would take away my children’s Autism, so they could experience a day without it.” At the time, that seemed like the most appropriate answer I could give. After all, I don’t much care for big flashy material things. What I want most is for my family to be happy, and— at the time— I thought taking away their Autism for a little while would make my children happy.
Then I thought about my choice.
The other day, we all went to a local park. There was a baby there who was crying about something. Her mother picked her up and tried to quell the little one’s distress. Jack, who is now almost 6, doesn’t really comprehend the reasons behind the tears, but he knows it means that someone is upset. Jill, who is days away from turning 8, understands a bit better.
As the baby wailed, I watched Jack approach the mother.
“Is the baby upset?” he asked. I couldn’t hear what she said, but I did see her nodding head.
Without asking if it was o.k., Jack reached up and hugged the little tyke. Jill, seeing the hug taking place, yelled “Jack sandwich!”, rushed over and sandwiched Jack between herself and the baby.
I thought about telling them to observe personal boundaries. I thought about rushing over, prying them off the baby, and apologizing to the mother about their exuberance and compassion. I thought about a lot of things in those few moments, but ultimately I kept my distance. The baby was o.k. with it. The mother smiled. Who am I to tell my children it’s not o.k. to show compassion?
It was this incident that came to mind when I thought about taking my children’s Autism away for a day. What if they are happy being exactly as they are? What if, by showing them what it is like to not have Autism, I cause them to start doubting themselves and how other people see them?
I think I’d like to change my answer.
I think I’d like to be able to eat whatever I want for 24 hours and not gain any weight. Yeah. That sounds good.