My son knows a lot about dinosaurs. I’ve known this for many years now but I didn’t realize just how much he really knew until I watched the movie Jurassic World with him the other night. It was the first time I’d seen the movie but my son Dylan said he’d played the game on his phone so he knew exactly what was happening. As I tried to inch my way closer to him on the chair so I could sneak in some snuggles, I was reminded at how amazing he is.
I could probably count on one hand how many times Dylan has let me hold him or get close enough to him to feel his tiny body next to mine. I took advantage of the fact that he was engulfed in the movie and high on life that HE was teaching his mom about something as cool as dinosaurs. “Well why would that thing be part raptor?” I’d ask. “I don’t get it. It’s so scary!”
“Mom, you don’t get it.” He’d say. “They made that dinosaur to be part raptor and part blah, blah, blah” (is what I heard) but it was really some cool name of another dinosaur I knew nothing about. I could tell Dylan was getting excited about knowing so much more than the rest of us and he was living in the moment of all the attention. Usually the attention he gets is negatively related to his behavioral problems. I find myself constantly saying, “Stop that, Dylan…You know better, Dylan,” and never enough of, “Wow! That’s neat, Dylan! You’re so smart, Dylan!”
Having a child who is more challenging than others is absolutely exhausting. There’s not a night that goes by when I don’t lay my head down on my pillow and berate myself for all the parenting mistakes I made and how I should have done better. Add to that the sensitive nature of parenting a child with special needs and my guilt goes through the roof. It is something unexplainable to those who don’t know it first-hand but I continue to try and shed light on a subject that is sometimes too hard to talk about.
My son knows a lot about dinosaurs but he also knows a lot about perseverance, kindness, acceptance, and being different. He just turned 9 last month and he’s becoming more aware of who he is and how his anxiety plays a role in his every day little boy life. Throwing himself into things like dinosaurs and Minecraft and modeling clay is his own pure way of making sense of his world. Kids are supposed to be kids. Kids like my son aren’t supposed to worry about therapy and medication and anxiety. Talking about dinosaurs and other things he loves is his way of inviting others into his amazing and beautiful mind even if it’s just for a moment.
As his mother, I have conditioned myself to notice the moments when he wants my attention and to really hold onto it. It’s as if my world and his world have just met and we’re the only two people in the room. I listen to him tell me all he can about what he knows because it may be the only time that day or that week that he invites me into his circle to really know the true him. This is the parenting stuff that happens outside of therapy, outside of school, but inside our hearts. When Dylan shares his world with me I feel less like a guilt-ridden mom and more of like a mom whose son is just being a son. I feel less lonely and more alive. If you ask me, it’s the best feeling in the world.