NO! Parents Are Not Allowed!

“Dash, did you fold all your clean clothes and put them in the closet and put the dirty ones in the hamper?” I note there are zero clothes in the dirty clothes hamper.

“Yeah, I did!  They’re in the closet!” He’s trying to be proud of himself but guilt is written all over his face!

“But did you fold them all up and put them away or did you shove them into closet on the floor?”

“Shoved them on the floor…nooOOOOoooo, you (I) fold them all up!”

“Really?  If I looked in your closet do you think I would think they are folded up and put away?”

“No… Yeeessss!” He sits in front of the door to make sure I cannot open it.

“Can I see?”

“No!  You cannot open the door. Parents are not allowed!” He’s sprawling even more over the floor space in front of the closet door, sweat starts forming on his forehead, and I think, just maybe, his nose might have grown a little bit in the last 5 minutes!

Who is it that says kids with autism can’t lie, aren’t able to think about something from someone else’s point of view?

Sometimes I really wonder if some of this stuff is really true, or if it is just that they aren’t able to communicate in a way that demonstrates all they understand.

Either way, I had a lot of fun with Dash on this, wondering what he would say and do.  It was such a typical kid sort of thing to do.

And such a typical grown-up sort of thing to do.

I wonder how silly we look when we try to hide things from God, or give him a partial truth. We know he knows all things, yet we still keep some stuff wrinkled and shoved under the shelves in the closet, pretending that if we just ignore it, it will go away.

Kind of like Adam & Eve…  (Gen 3:11)  Did they really think they could get away with not telling the whole truth?

Psalm 139

“1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.”

In some ways it is scary to have all thoughts known… I mean, he even knows those thoughts.

On the other hand, it is a wonderful thing to be known so completely, lies and faults included,  and yet accepted 100%.

To be regarded as the “apple of his eye (Deut 32:10, Zech 2:8)

I wonder if Adam and Eve realized that in as much as they desired that apple in the garden, that God desired them and even more so?

I wonder if we realize that too.

I wonder how we would act differently if we deeply understood the kind of passion the Father has for us, newly each day as we awake?

Psalm 139

“17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!”

And when I wake up, you are still with me!

How do you imagine your days would be different?

Curiouser and Curiouser

“‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English)”

I am reminded of this line from Alice in Wonderland (by Lewis Carroll) every time I think of Sketch these days.  He never was the kind of kid to get into everything… that is, until now.  This week has been filled to the brim with adventure for him!

Dash & Princess Buttercup, on the other hand, were notorious for this curious behavior.  I had to watch them like a hawk when they were little.  Dash would climb anything to get something that caught his eye, including his twin sister!  Dash would put anything and everything in his mouth,  including door knobs and hinges and any dead bugs or old food that didn’t get vacuumed up immediately.  The twins were sensory-seekers to the highest degree!

But Sketch, not so much. He never went through that phase.  He never put anything AT ALL in his mouth (well, except for his beautifully knitted blue blankey, that he pretty much ate up).  It turns out that that is an important stage in the development of children, as it strengthens oral motor skills for eating and speaking.  To this day, Sketch hardly eats anything.  His diet is limited by his food allergies, but he self-limits himself to specific crackers, cereal, chips and yogurt (only french vanilla!).  Rarely,  he’ll have a little oatmeal. Sometimes apple slices.  That’s it! No exploration through the mouth!

Except for yesterday, when he took one of his picture symbols that is laminated, and peeled off the plastic cover.  Next thing I know, he is leaning over in his car seat looking like he is going to empty the contents of his stomach all over the car.  He took his hand, put it deeply in his mouth, and pulled out that clear plastic he put in there while I was driving.  He nearly choked and I had no idea!

Sketch is becoming curious in other areas as well.  He shares a room with his sister, and there is a long gate that separates their room so Sketch won’t go jumping on Princess Buttercups bed while she is sleeping.  Sketch is now 5 and 1/2 years old, and never once tried to open the gate.  He was fully capable of doing it, but he just never tried.

Until Sunday when he just decided to let himself out and explore the house while we were all still sleeping.  Well, the Princess wasn’t sleeping.  She was very upset  about the whole event and started crying, which woke us up.

Although we were a bit concerned about what could happen with this new found ability of his, we were also so proud of him because he took the initiative and tried it. He was curious enough to actually do it.
I guess he is getting a bit bored of his usual activity of lining up our dirty laundry through any clear path we may be fortunate to have in our house.

There were many more events this week that show how curious Sketch is becoming.  He snuck in his sisters “nook”, which is off limits to the boys, and giggled!  He watched me pour water into the filter Brita filter like it was the most interesting thing he ever saw (I guess he never noticed that before?). He has been getting out of bed after being tucked in, opening the gate and coming down stairs, giggling and incredibly proud of himself.   And yesterday, he opened an emergency exit door at Chuck E. Cheese and set off the alarm.

And speaking of alarms… the big news of this curious week was took place on Sunday, at church.  Sketch decided to “lift and pull” the fire alarm in their Sunday School class. The entire church had to be evacuated until the firemen came to turn off the alarm! That was quite the event. Whether he was curious about what would happen if he lifted and pulled, or whether is was simply following the directions posted on the alarm, we may never know. But… it just goes to show, he is becoming “curiouser and curiouser”.

And we just love it.

It means he is trying new things, and the more he tries the more he’ll learn.  The more he’ll learn things aren’t as scary as they seem sometimes, and that new things can become wonderful fun things.

God loves new things. He is in the business of doing new things, making us new creations…growing us.

Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

I just imagine Him watching us explore the new things He is doing.  I imagine He is very excited when we step out into the streams he’s placed by us, curious about what it may bring, what we may learn about Him or what may happen if we dip our toe into it–will it be freezing cold or refreshingly comfortable?

Like Sketch getting curiouser and curiouser about the things around Him, I want to get curiouser and curiouser about God and what He’s placed around me.

Sometimes new things are outside our comfort zone.  Like Sketch, we can be a bit hesitant to try some of the new things He has in store for us.  But, just as I know that new things are good for Sketch, in many ways, I also know that the new things God gives us and opportunities He brings our way are also things He knows are good for us.  They help us to grow and to bring us pleasure , and also to reveal to others a little of who He is.

In my last post, I wrote about how Sketch hates the rain.  He now has some froggy rain boots and an froggy umbrella to help him stay dry, and he has been playing with them in the house.  Today is supposed to be a rainy day…I wonder if he’ll be curious enough to try them out in the rain?

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!

I’ve just got this vision playing in my mind, that takes place about 20 years from now.  I am 60 years old, carrying my 25 year old Sketch,who won’t step foot in the rain.  I’m wondering how that is going to work?

I am sure he’ll come to tolerate the rain a bit better by then than he does now, but at this point, his total disgust and fear of the rain is getting worse, not better!

Today I was coming home from taking him to OT, and the darkened skies opened wide, spilling it’s heavy rains to the earth.

When we got home, Sketch wanted just one thing:  to be in the house where it was dry.  There was just one problem with this what-should-be easily solved problem. He has to get though the torrential downpour that is blocking his way between the car and the house.

At first he wouldn’t even come near the car door.  When I opened it, with the umbrella in hand, he backed up away from the open-to-the-dreaded-rain door.  He was not ready to face his fear head-on….or, head under, as the case may be!

“Come on, Sketch, I’ll carry you!  See?  I have an umbrella to keep you dry. It will be ok!”

“Are you all done? AHHHHH!”

“Sketch, it’s ok, I’ll carry you in and keep you dry!  Then you can get your blue blanket (his favorite thing)”

“Ahhh!  All Done!” Sketch screams and cries in objection.

It took about 5 minutes of convincing him that it is safe, and worth it, to let me carry him in.  He screamed all the way… I’m sure the 4 steps to the porch and 4 stair-steps up to the door seemed to be more like 4 miles long, with each inch looming with the potential disaster of getting wet…of having “spots” on his shirt…of his shoes having a darker shade of leather than they did before…or…here’s the worst…wet hair!

But, it didn’t happen.  I kept him dry, just as I promised…all the while getting my own feet wet from walking in puddles since I couldn’t see the way while carrying him…my back was spotted with rain drop stains, my shoulders sore from attempting to coordinate the umbrella and Sketch at the same time.  But Sketch, he was ok.

Except, he didn’t think he was.

If I thought he was screaming before, it was just a minor whimper in comparison to what came next.  Now that he’s in the house and dry & safe, he lets loose with the high pitch alarm sounding scream…the one usually reserved for severe pain or terror!

Ignoring his screams, I sit with him by the fire place to get warm and dry.  I grab a extra-comfortable quilted blanket with a rainbow colored sunburst in the center, and wrap it around us both.

He giggles.

I squeeze, and he giggles in relief, again.

I just hold him and warm him and give him squeezes of pressure & hugs that make him feel safe.  (I really don’t mind this part at all!)

We cuddle by the fire, feeling safe from the dangers outdoors.

Sometimes we have a storm in our lives, or a dreaded event, or something we just don’t like.  And we have to endure it to get to the promised land of comfort & safety. And just like I carried Sketch in the house, God offers to guide and protect us as well, while we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”  We don’t need to fear any evil, for “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

And even though we may be absolutely dreading the path we have to take, and it takes all we have to make that first step out of the door into the arms of God (who’s holding us under a really big umbrella), God is there and He carefully takes us to the other side.  God takes the rain on his own shoes and back.  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

And once we are safe… we may still feel a bit traumatized by the whole thing.  We may still want to throw our fit and scream:  “Did it really have to happen THAT way God???  Couldn’t you magically get me here from the car while avoiding the rain???”

And God comes, and takes us by the warm fire of his presence, re-assures us with his Word, and wraps us with the Holy Spirit like a blanket, and comforts us.  And we relax. And we may giggle at how silly we were about the magic tricks, or the situation we dreaded so much but just turned out to be no big deal in comparison to God. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

Often at the point of finally relaxing, we want to just move on. To get up and start doing things that need to be done.  But I encourage you to follow Sketch’s example and to not do that.  Treasure the moment. Stop by the fire place and rest, soak in the love of our incredible Savior.  Rest in the presence of God, absorb the Words of God and soak in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

It’s still raining outside here in Maine, and maybe it is still raining where you are too. Maybe you are about to take that first step out of the car to make the journey to the other side, and to you I say:

Fear not, the God of the universe is waiting to take you safely over, hand-in-hand, or perhaps by carrying you all the way.

Like the Rays of Sun on a Clear Day

Sketch has a very active bath time.  When he takes a bath, he likes to slide his little body from the back of the tub to the front as quickly as possible, and watch the water swish and flow like waves in the tub.

Did I mention he loves to keep the water running the entire time, too?  What a mess!

Water  streams over the edges of the tub  like a powerfully driven waterfall, creating a mini ocean on the tile floor in the bathroom.

No place is dry, all the floor space has been touched by the overflowing bath water.

Sometimes the bath is Sketchs’ “happy place”.  When he’s in his happy place, watch out!

He’ll laugh and giggle but that does not even begin to express the depths of emotion he feels.  Because his little body can’t contain all that joy all at once, he adds to the giggles with squeals while jumping up and down on his tippy toes, gaining unbelievable heights. He flaps his arms with intensity that sometimes I wonder if he will fly, or maybe he can jump so high because his arms are helping him get air under his feet!  It’s like he’s trying to release some of the excess emotion, trying to keep his skin from exploding from the build up.

Sketch just lets it all out, unrestrained.  All the joy comes out one way or another, because he feels it, and he can’t contain it all. With the lack of social awareness, he just let’s it escape however it happens and doesn’t worry about what people think.

Unrestrained joy. Like rays of sunshine on a clear day, beaming from it’s core, not hindered by pollution or anything else.

You know how bright that would be?

Do we allow that amount of joy to be in us?  Or do we not experience it anymore?  Have we NT’s found some way to stifle the joy so we act “socially acceptable?”

I have heard that long ago, in biblical, times people expressed grief and joy much more extravagantly than we do now. People tore their clothes in grief, or danced naked in the streets (somethings are probably better off not done!).

We have a God who has exceeding joy, exceeding and indescribable love for us.  He doesn’t restrain his emotions. (Zeph 3:17).

We have a God who made us in his image.  So, I’m thinking Sketch has it right… He is not inhibited by social rules, he just is… He impacts everyone he comes in contact with.  No matter what their mood prior to seeing him, they are smiling and laughing with him. Maybe he is revealing a bit of Gods’ exuberance toward us in his joyful ways and happy dances. What if we took note of that, and really understood the depths of love and passion God feels for us…maybe we would flap too?

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

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