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Saturday, 21 June 2008

Dear Beernut,

Watching you at your birthday party two days ago, I could not help but think back to a very different birthday. The boy you are today is so very different from that anxious, rigid, scared, overwhelmed little boy. The very idea of a group of people focusing their attention on you was enough to keep you locked in your room for almost your entire 5th birthday party. That was one of the most painful days I have had as I watched you struggle with your emotions.

Fast-forward three years. The right diagnosis, proper therapies, an amazing treatment team, and a lot of patience. That is what it has taken to help you shed much of what prevented you from experiencing a normative life.

You are getting older. You are more aware that you are not quite like the other kids. I know that this causes you some concern.

“Am I weird?” you asked me, recently.

Recalling my own lifelong sense of insecurity, I had hoped that none of you children would wonder if you fit into the broader social landscape.

“Well Beernut,” stalling for time, “you seem to fit in pretty well in our family. So if you are weird, I guess we all are as well. The other option is normal and truthfully, that seems a little boring to me. Which would rather be? Weird & interesting or normal & boring?”

Just a moment passed before a grin replaced the worrisome expression.

“Interesting! Weird & interesting!”

I know that weird & interesting does not make for an easy growing-up experience. And I imagine that it will not be of much comfort how much your quirky personality brings such joy to my heart.

This year’s party was a tremendous social achievement for you. Most importantly, Dad and I are so proud that you choose to invite kids from your social skills class (aka social thinking) and your karate studio in addition to some family friends, schoolmates, shul chums, your cousins, and your sister. Party invitations do not come often to some of your friends and they were especially thrilled to be included in your special day. The expression on your face told me everything I needed to know. You were just beaming.


After we opened your presents later in the evening, you sat on the couch with a content look and shared the following:

People really must like me. I am really happy about that because much of the time, I don’t really like myself because I think that other people don’t really like me.

How disheartening to know that even with the constant love and ongoing reinforcement, you still question your self-worth.

Beernut, even with the hard days, the struggles, the frustrations, I cannot imagine my life without your wonderful soul. My friend Neshama once told me a teaching that her father (also a rabbi!) shared with her. He told her that before a child is born, he reviews all the available parents and chooses who will be his.

Thank you for choosing me.

Aka “Mom”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunday, 22 June 2008 11:28 am

    what a blessing you are to him and he is to you!

  2. Sunday, 22 June 2008 8:21 pm

    what a sweet, thoughtful boy. how lucky!

  3. Monday, 23 June 2008 6:58 pm

    A happy kiddo is a great thing.

  4. Tuesday, 24 June 2008 5:45 pm

    I so understand all of this. One of the happiest things I ever heard JVBoy tell us was that even if they did have a shot that would make him not autistic, he wouldn’t want it because he loves himself the way he is. It will come for Beernut. He has a golden neshama 🙂

  5. Monday, 28 July 2008 11:10 pm

    Sounds like you’re doing a fantastic job, and he’s really shining through.

    I had some thoughts on PDD recently… not as a parent, but as someone who has had the privelege of working with several wonderful kids on various parts of the spectrum. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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