This afternoon we experienced a freak episode that was outside of normal. For us. But I could not shake the thought of how normal it actually felt.
RM came home off the van from school and we proceeded through the ritual of taking off our shoes, hanging up our coats, washing hands, putting on a new pull-up and getting a fresh cup of water and some crackers. It’s exactly the same routine every afternoon. But then we did something way out of the ordinary. We bundled up and put our sneakers back on and set out on this beautiful day and walked the quarter-mile up to The Boy’s elementary school to greet him and even hang at the playground for a spell.
You know like normal families do.
There were other moms there, too, congregating like moms do at the playground while kids play. None of the moms was 1:1 chasing their autistic kid. But here’s the thing – neither was I.
RM has come so far in the last year. She can maneuver the playground like a pro. Sure she has some limitations like any other 5-year-old. But they are height-specific like not reaching the zipline bar, they are no longer limitations of disability. She giggled. She watched her peers play. She smiled at them more than a few times. She gave chase to her brother. She was having a grand time.
So was I.
It was so - what is the word? Normal.
It wasn’t a perfect outing, we had a few hiccups like when RM saw her brother walking toward us (and home) so she panicked. She did flop on the ground, but she just needed the reassurance that the plan was still set and we really were going to the playground. She regrouped rather quickly and even said, “Sorry, Mom,” as the three of us took hands and kept on our way up to the schoolyard.
The other moms I chatted it up with I know well enough to know they each have had their own brand of normal. Not autism-normal, but they have had their own unique journeys with their own kids. And I appreciate that more than they will ever know. Because autism-friendly is as much about normal being different for all of us than it is about being the same.
But I sure loved the brand of normal we had this afternoon.