It’s been a personal mission to spend some 1-2-1 time with the children this year. Having had three babies within four years they have grown up together with similar needs and interests.
As they are getting older the gaps are widening with both Josh and Grace overtaking Dylan on developmental milestones, ability to take on responsibilities and overall maturity. Both younger ones have their own developing needs so I thought I’d take them out individually for dinner one day a month.
Josh came out with me last week. He enjoyed having protected time to tell me all about his new school, new friends and growing responsibilities of homework and the differing rules compared to primary school. We had a laugh and it was an upbeat evening.
Grace came for dinner tonight. Having some quiet time the two of us she quickly and unexpectedly appeared vulnerable and weepy. She talked about her fears for Dylan. Candidly.
She talked about her fears about him not being accepted. Him being unfairly judged for his behaviours and overall her exhaustion through her self inflicted task of educating the world about her dashing, kind and delicate brother.
Grace adores Dylan.
She sees him. She gets him and she loves him.
Her pain was not about Dylan and autism but about how she fears the rest of the world judging him because of it.
Graces concern is the lack of opportunity for him in the world due to the ill perceived way that his behaviours cloud who he is and what he is capable of. Her despair resonated with me.
There were no words. All I could do was hold her tight as she clung to me, desperately trying to hide her tears from the rest of the restaurant. Embarrassed that her tightly closed pot of fear and emotions were publicly spilling over and she could not replace the lid.
We went and sat in the car. Grace feeling better now that she had shared the burden that she had carried for a long time and felt unable to discuss. But still the tears fell. She couldnt stop. I didn’t want her to; She can’t carry this around with her, all bottled up. Let it out.
‘I can’t stop it. I feel there’s more tears‘
All I could do was hold her and reassure her that I understand, I feel the same. I relate.
Driving home together I feel foolish. I had underestimated the amount of insight that Grace has.
I can’t protect her from this. She has this simply because she cares so much. The bittersweet grief from loving someone who means so much but inturn exposes so much vulnerability.
The internal fear.
For goodness sake- shes only 9.
Once home I check that shes okay.
‘So so‘ is the reply.
I know the feeling.
Grace quickly snapped back to ‘happy Grace’ once we got home and I gained an insight into how much this tough yet delicate and caring soul can convincingly hide a multitude of emotions with ease. She said as I was tucking her into bed that she enjoyed her evening out but didn’t enjoy crying. She did agree to come out again in a few weeks but suggested we just get a burger and sit in the car incase she feels like she needs to cry again.
And thats okay with me.