It’s humbling, the ease at which a child with a disability enjoys the simple pleasures. The way Jonah does things at his speed, not only because to go much faster is physically straining for him, but also because he doesn’t want to miss any of the fleeting joys life brings. The way he does things when he wants to, because life’s to short to always be going, the fact that there’s not enough time to always be pleasing others. The ability Jonah has to grasp that concept utterly amazes me. He knows there are times when he has to listen, and to do as he is told. But other times, he knows Jonah-time has arrived. May that be walking down the sidewalk in 20 degree weather, and stopping to watch the wind blow the trees (with one of us waiting beside him, itching to reach the warmth of the van). Or obtaining your attention, and then taking 5 years to tell you what he needed in the first place. Or when he’s playing the play station running his car into things, simply for the sound the crash makes, and giggling hysterically every single time.
Watching a child with special needs playing a same or with a toy, without a properly trained eye, is seemingly fruitless. To them, it’s a child sitting there quietly, running a car back and forth, or giggling as he throws a ball in the air. But to someone who spends time around one, Jonah in this instance, who watches them play and grow, endless amounts of joy are around the corner when they pick up a car, or an action figure, or a stuffed animal. Children with special needs in my experience (which is pretty limited outside of Jonah) don’t need to make sounds, or play with others. The need a toy, preferably with moving parts, and the rest is imagination. No motor sounds, or animal sounds, or shooting sounds (depending on the toy, of course) are needed, only that the toy is not, in fact, incredibly boring. And other children aren’t usually high up on the list either, as Jonah has a hard time expressing himself. So he sits, and plays, and imagines.
Jonahs favorite toys are stuffed animals. But they must have floppy legs, or they are absolutely no good. Simply shaking them back and forth enough to imitate walking is enough to keep him entranced for hours. Watching him play, I’m often awed at the looks of wonder and amazement that radiate from his face when he realizes something. As he can’t tell me what new snippet of information he has obtained, I am left to ponder what thought just races across his mind as he flopped Bullseye around, or what new realization came to him as he opened the tiny car door, and stuck the toy man in. Jonah is creative in his own way, with a love to draw, and write, and imagine. I see whole other worlds, written on his face. I want to dive in, to reside in the world of simplicity that Jonah currently dwells in. Perhaps that is part of my fascination with him. Part of the reason that he’s the only thing often keeping me running.
As Americans we often miss the simplicity to life. The way the wind blows our hair, or the way the sun feels on our face, or the sand between our toes. It’s a blessing to live with a child that has special needs, because he can take us back to the simple joys. He reminds life isn’t all there is, and while other things are important, so is taking a minute here and there for us. A walk in the park, reading a book, something as nothing as sitting outside and enjoying a glass of iced tea. No, he may not portray what he wants to say in words, but we can see it in every move he makes.
I wrote this last year, and thought you all might like to read it. I thought it was rather swell. :]