Stillness: What Bobby Teaches Me, If I'll Just Listen

I don't like quiet moments, where there are no demands, no pressures. Did I ever? I don't know. I've been parenting for more than half my life, so I don't know that I ever had a lot of chance for quiet.

And when I did, when Bobby was a toddler and could spend hours lining things up and I could sit and write, well, all that's tied with guilt for not recognizing that his behavior was atypical.

Maybe that's why I have conflicted feelings about quiet time. I'm home this morning, with Bobby, and I feel the tension building because he's back in his room watching anime and I'm out here watching the news and writing this post. Shouldn't I be engaging him? 

And I remind myself he's 23, and not all of our moments together have to be about engaging him, that he's happy back there watching his shows, that he can be still. That he could teach me about stillness and learning to turn my thoughts off. And that's not a bad thing, that he can be still, that he can be completely in the moment, in whatever he's doing, even if that means he's not doing what he was supposed to be doing.

Yet, the tension builds in me, even with this realization. I have been conditioned to think that I have to keep the kids engaged, that drawing them out of themselves and their obsessions are an obligation. It's a little easier with the girls to let them be because they are interacting with each other, spending their hours drawing together, and it's easy to see that their activities increase their skills--they get better at drawing by the day. Still, though...so much of autism land has been pushing this idea of therapy, of sustained contact to pull them into the normal activities, that guilt is a constant, murmuring companion.

I think, though, how I would have felt if my parents constantly bothered me to get my head out of my books (had they not been just as immersed in their own) and I know that I need to let all the internal chatter about what I should be doing go and trust my instincts.

After all, my favorite times with Bobby are our car rides, when I pick him up in the afternoon, and after pleasantries have been exchanged, we ride in companionable silence all the way home. I'm still constructively engaged, driving, but in those minutes with him, I am at peace. We are able to be with each other in quiet acceptance, and it is a centering experience for me.

Maybe I need more car rides with him?

1 comment:

farmwifetwo said...

One of the biggest disagreements I had with ABA was the fact that Russ was not allowed down time. I had to use a book of planned activities and keep him doing it whenever I had a task I needed to get done.

Needless to say I said "NO". Needless to say that didn't go over well.

Had I not done so, he would not be writing his own things on the computer both on WwS and Wordperfect. He would not be able to use the computer better than most of us. He would not be able to do the drawings he does on his DSi. He would not have his favourite things, his own activities and his own "play" that nobody understands but if he wants to move his figurines around the kitchen and his cars and place them just "so"... who am I to complain.

Had I not let him be himself, I am 100% certain he would be a lot farther delayed, a lot less independant and definately miserable instead of happy.