autism,  cross-country,  high school,  motherhood,  teen years

The helpers

J and Coach Mailloux, XC recognition night.

Every time there’s some sort of tragedy or catastrophe happening in the world, I see that Mr. Rodgers meme pop up on the Internet. I’m sure you’ve seen it too: Mr. Rogers in a shirt and tie, with his classic Mr. Rodgers sweater and smile with the words: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

It’s got me thinking that we must be living in some sort of catastrophic lifestyle, because our family is the recipient of great generosity from so many helpers every single day. Teachers, coaches, middle and high school students, parents of those middle and high school students, church kids and church parents. Every single day, we have people in our lives, trying to help Steve and I give J and W the best experiences for learning, growth, and love. Sometimes that can be a really big struggle. Autism is full of a million scary things to navigate, and most of the time you feel like you’re not doing it right. We definitely couldn’t do it on our own. And that is a really humbling feeling.

JD introducing J’s accomplishments this year. One of the many, incredibly, kind kids on the team. I say this all of the time, if you think the world is going to hell in a hand basket, hang out with these kids for 5 minutes. They’ll restore your faith in humanity.

It’s humbling to know that you rely so much on the kindness and generosity of others daily, and you wish you could reciprocate all of that back. You wish your child could be the type of kid who could reach out to the other kids too–not just to the ones who are different and awkward. You wish he could be that friend back to all of those who work so hard to connect to with him. But right now J can’t do those things (and I’m not sure if one day he’ll ever be able to). You wish you could be that parent who could visit more on the sidelines with all the other parents. And it breaks your heart a little because you wish your family could give back a little of so much that they get (because it’s such a powerful and amazing feeling). All you can do is soak up as much of the goodness you can and be content of being the receiver of all that goodness, because you know you can never repay everyone for it.

J with Coaches Hardie and Lehman. Every coach on this team has a different personality and set of talents, and it’s amazing to see how each of their talents and coaching styles has been essential to J’s growth in different ways.

It’s one of the many great and hard things about being an autism family. You get to experience so much good with the struggle. So I guess most days I’m grateful for this “full catastrophe life” I never asked for. I get to experience so much generosity from other people in a way I’ve never been able to experience before J came into my life.

When the crazy, terrible things happen in the world and people start doubting the goodness of humanity, I’m lucky enough to see it in real time every day. The helpers are everywhere.

W’s coaches are pretty awesome people too. Seriously, we are so lucky to have so many wonderful and supportive people in our kids’ lives. Coach Ness has coached both J and W in track and she’s always on the sidelines looking out for both J and W at meets. We love her to bits!

So thank you a million times over to our XC crew (kids, coaches, and parents) for another season of helping both J and W grow so much this year.

Hopefully, someday, we can repay you for all of the things you do for our family.

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One Comment

  • Carol Forster

    The spirit of generosity lives within many people. It feels good to give, whether it be of your talents, of your food, of your money, of your faith or of your time. You may feel that you are getting more than you’re giving, and want to repay, but believe me, everyone is repaid ten times fold to be a part of your village and is filled with joy in watching or being a part of each new step of the way. That is payment enough.