Don't get me wrong, it is the best job I have ever had, but holy moly. It is hard. Making sure he eats and sleeps, the right things and enough. Keeping his body safe. Trying to help him grow into a kind person. Teaching him to tie his shoes and look both ways and keep his hands to himself and Jesus, dude! Please be gentle with the cat! Being the decision-maker is difficult enough when picking a book or a restaurant. When you are making decisions about another human, another human who is your flesh and your blood and your heart? Hooooo, boy.
Still, every now and then, the stars align and the decisions are easy. On a day that therapy was cancelled, we found ourselves out front. A moment on the swing, on a warm day, lead to a family walk around the neighborhood. A no-brainer- when the weather is still nice and the sun stays up a little later, saying yes to a walk is easy. We strolled around our neighborhood and walked along the busy avenue, making an impromptu pit stop at Wawa to get a coffee for me and a peanut-butter cup for PJ. He's a man of few words, on the whole, but it's something that PJ still talks about months later; the time we went for a walk to Wawa after we played on the swing.
There are a million lessons to take away from this. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Family time is the most important time. Everyone loves Wawa.
Seriously. For those of you who do not know from Wawa, my heart breaks for you.
The main point, I think, is this: So much of PJ's time is taken up with therapy, school, doctor/clinic visits, and structured activities. Autism makes them mandatory. They have to be done, and for the most part, he enjoys all of those things. We see a tremendous amount of growth as a result of all of the hard work he does. But, it's just that- hard work, and if I really reflect on the time we spend, there are not nearly enough impromptu walks to Wawa to create some kind of balance. The time scale is tipped solidly in favor of anything but non-scheduled time. When we get a magic moment that allows us to put the necessary aside, it's easy to suddenly jump up and head to the park or sit down at the table to color. But is there a way to purposefully make space for nothing when there is always something?
It's something that is worth trying to figure out. PJ is always at his best when he has room to just be. He's less likely to become overwhelmed trying to transition from one thing to another when there are fewer time constraints or pressures. As dumb as it sounds, it's time to plan for no plans.