Friday, January 18, 2013

Wisdom ala Dr. Seuss

Last night I returned from a 10 day business trip.

I travel now and then for work but usually I am only gone a night or two and the trips are few enough and far enough between.  But this is the first time in over a year that I have been gone for such a long stretch.  Three different trips kind of merged together and turned into a marathon.

Maya's always been a kid whose never had a disproportionate amount of separation anxiety.  Factor in her autism and that is just downright miraculous.  She's always been okay with Leo and I going out in the evening and she does fine at sleepovers.  Considering that for a lot of kids on the spectrum, a one day business trip might put you in meltdown territory, I feel quite fortunate that in this, Maya usually handles the separation okay.  Skype really helps.

Of course, Maya always delights in the presents I bring back.  When I go to a new place, I always add a new snow globe to her collection or bring her cute t-shirts back.  Note:  overpriced touristy t-shirts in adult sizes make for great kids pajamas, and you get a couple of years of wear out of them too.  A much better value for the money than say, pajamas.  In our London office, I am lucky that there is a shopping mall underneath our building so I don't have to go very far to find her something she will love.  There is a great bookstore with a wonderful children's section.

This time Maya asked for sticker books but I still always try to look for simple, learn-to-read books for her in the hopes that one day she will surprise me and read something aloud to me.  She has shown me she knows how to read but it is always a happenstance thing rather than something deliberate.

So while touring around Waterstones Bookstore, I decided, on a couple of sticker books, a couple of sticker packs (I managed to snag up the last Thomas the Train stickers which made her sooooooo happy).  Maya loves Dr. Seuss but what she loves about it, is hearing me read it.

PS, if you want to hear something hilarious, ask Leo or any other non-native English speaker to read a Dr. Seuss book, it's minutes of evil belly laughter.

Maya has quite a lot of Dr Seuss so it is often tough to find one she doesn't already have but this time I was lucky and spotted Oh The Places You Will Go.  I grabbed it up immediately.  I actually had never read this one, so I didn't know what it was about, but for Maya you can't ever go wrong with Dr. Seuss.  I figured, I was in to meet some sneetchers screetching or some animals grazing and gazing.

Like clockwork, last night, Maya asked me to read it, so after she went to her room to bring a dozen or so of her kids (stuffed animals), we were on our way.

What a find!  
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...
You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left... 
Out there things can happen, and frequently do, To people as brainy and footsy as you.And when things start to happen, don't worry, don't stew. Just go right along, you'll start happening too! 
So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way

What wisdom, what words, especially written for my girl!

As parents, we worry so much about our kids.  With a special needs kid, that worry factor goes up a thousandfold.  You worry so much about the future, you are so focused on helping your child get as far as he or she can but underneath it all is the worry.  Will they grow up and be okay?  Will they be able to take care of themselves?  Will they have friends, find love, have families?  Will they be happy?

No parent can answer that question for their child, but with a special needs kid you worry that the challenges will close off the opportunities.  Sometimes it is great to have someone like Dr. Seuss to remind us that while some doors  may not be open or we may have to push a lot harder to open them, that even a life with challenges can be one of promise, one of possibility and fulfillment.

As I sat there reading that book with my daughter, I was suddenly reminded that Maya's life is not yet written in stone and that happiness has nothing to do with how far you get in life, how many degrees you have, how big your house is or how popular you are.  It comes from within us, we choose to be happy.  She is happy now, she always chooses happiness for herself.  As long as she can keep doing that and as long as I can keep teaching her that happiness is a choice rather than something which is given, she will be okay, no matter what the outcome.

People go to therapists and pluck down thousands upon thousands of dollars to hear that and maybe understand it.  All they really need is 7.95 Pounds Sterling.

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