I think about the day he was kicked out of school often. They rise up during moments like today, rise up like the moon, to remind me of how far we have come. The journey has indeed been long. Here was a boy, kicked out of his first school experience only after two days. Here is a mother, who cried alone in her car with him, wondering what our life will be come. Here is a boy who brought the words autism to my soul. Here is a boy for whom all sorts of remedy became all we knew. Here is a boy who barely spoke a word at three. Here is a boy who only pointed at things he wanted. Here is a boy for when words came repeated them often so his brain would never forget. Here is a boy who still repeats words so his brain remembers. Here is a boy for whom hand gestures are like silent friends. Here is a boy for whom friends are everyone in the universe and more. Here is a boy for whom bubbles and air in his being run free never forgetting their roots. Here too is a boy who memorized the entire mass, once words that seemed distant turned to dreams of tears, of joy, at least for me and him and everyone who remembers the day we knew we were destined for greatness, yet blessed with difference on our side.

There are still miles ahead to go. Still things I worry about like words inappropriate he says out loud not knowing the weight they carry. Strangers, all sorts, he greets and speaks to on the road, expecting they are as innocent and brilliant as he is. He is truly innocent and brilliant and unfamiliar with the ways of the world, still that I fear for what the future holds. I fear but choose this moment to remind myself to look at the bright side always. That’s what the universe said to me, as we played at a park the next day after being kicked out of school. That’s what the universe still says to me, as we all stand by his side celebrating his first holy communion. Now son, flesh of my flesh, now that you receive the body and blood of the one who first loved you, know that all of life runs through your veins. You silence or laughter or difference or joy isn’t weakness but for his glory and he will want you to look at the bright side always. If all this defines you, if you still live for the universe free, then we are open always to this bright side of you, this power within you.

At 2, just after being kicked out of his first school.
Today, at his first holy communion.
Happy First Holy Communion. Fun fact: He thought he was becoming a Priest with his outfit. It really made his day thinking he was becoming like them. Only time will tell.

My first son hates to read. Not all books. Just the ones that have to do with school. Give him a Dogman book or anything with space and he will quietly read and read. But homework, or anything from Journey is a pain. Today’s assignment was a chapter in his Journey book. All he had to do was read. He complained and complained and tried not to do it. Even asked for us to do it together. I stood my ground and told him to read. Even went as far as to share about how his sister read in church on Easter Sunday all by herself. In fact he should be like his sister. That was all I needed to say and 10 minutes later, the chapter he dreaded to read was done.

Big sis remains a big influence in his life. Watching her read all by herself in Church on Easter Sunday was a gift that keeps giving. I am inspired by them and their gift to each other.

I am re-reading Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salteaters, and I am struck by this line in the book ‘the source of health is never outside.’ The book itself is always worth a read but the idea of all you need for health nestled within you has always made me feel whole. Two days ago, my first son and I were visiting his pediatrician and as always we marveled at how far we have come with being on the spectrum. We know we still have so many miles to go, but this idea of all we need for him being within us helped me put so much in perspective. See we often take huge leaps forward, often expect things to seem better, meltdowns dissipate and the brain seems to function as if all was well. Then just as soon as we bend a curve, we are ushered right back to the start. His doctor reminded me that in those moments, all we need are already within reach. She reminded me that when we have meltdowns that seem so out of control, those like our recent experience at the planetarium, a chewable childrens motrim will do. It can help the body quickly reset as my son makes sense of all that is happening to him. I was stunned. Of course don’t use it on an empty stomach she cautioned, but whenever you take him out and feel like he may start to stim or have a serious meltdown, a chewable Motrim may help to calm him down. I went straight to Walmart and bought 3 bottles. She also mentioned the need to have meltdown packs, almost like a first aid kit for moments like the Planetarium when we anticipate the end just may not work as well as we expect it to end. I said this summer is going to be like that. I also noted that I dread the summer for him. Nothing seems to work out well and he always seem to have meltdowns when ever he has to end anything. I share all this to say we are looking within ourselves these days for the source of all that would help us cope with being on the spectrum. Only time will tell but I am learning with each passing day that the source of our health, is already within our reach

I know that girl. I see the light in her eyes every time she remembers she can do anything. She may not know how to be brave in the moment. May not know what to say or how to fight back in the moment. But when she remembers her mother’s voice, she knows she can do anything. She may not know what to do at times. May not know where to even begin. But when she remembers her daddy’s voice, she knows she can do anything. She may never know why things come her way. She may never see them coming her way. But when she remembers her grandmother voice, she knows she can do anything. She may feel frightened at times. May feel helpless at times. But when she remembers her grandpas voice, she knows she can do anything. And so she does. What may seem impossible for others, is possible for her. Especially now that she knows she can do anything.

Love is always present, always with us. I see it clearly in Spring. Whenever Spring comes around, my mind and heart open up. Everything about this season pushes me to live my life to the fullest. To live in the moment too. And trees call me. With every way they sway, they move me. Naked or flourishing, they seduce me. With each falling leaves, they challenge me. Each falling branch, they guide me. And each root, uprooted, connect me back to the heart of the matter, my roots. We are still here, standing because love calls, we answer.

We all know trust is hard. It evades. Drowns in oceans and disappears. It’s steady if you have it. Old people seek it. Young people ignore it. But children elevate it, create new possibilities with it. Even if they are drowning. They trust they’ll never sink. Not when the ocean loves them back. To know it can never be shaken. To feel it never move. To see it surround them just as deep and as wide as oceans is to stand erect in love. I have lived too long with children who know trust. When I speak of trust, they speak of love. We stand together, erect.

One of the highlights of Spring break last week was climbing trees at a park close to our home. I watched as my children trusted the tree to hold them despite its crumbling state. They kept climbing till they could climb no more, trusting the tree would keep them erect. It did. I admire that about children. They go around keeping their trust in things and people they know who keep their best interest in mind. They are like those who trust in the Lord, those whose trust is like Mount Zion, never shaken or moved. Children are a a gift from God. A real blessing if you stop to observe how they make sense of life. I am doing so everyday and like them, I long to be like Mount Zion. Never shaken or moved. No matter what life throws my way. If you know my story, you would know my foundation begins with trust. I thank my children for giving me this reminder. I hope you keep it.

My son told me yesterday, he would buy me flowers forever when he gets older. I smiled. He is only five and still reminds me of God every time I look in his eyes. I forgot to pen one more moment with him as he turned 5 back in February. He reminded me of why it matters yesterday. So here he goes. I hope you keep moments with God. He will give you flowers forever.

We took the best of ourselves. The best of our minds. The best of our peace, the fullness of our hearts and gave them to you. Son, whose skin is the color of the night, with eyes as brilliant as shooting stars. See the full moon. See how it persistently tends the night skies. It knows places in the night, dark and never spoken about, like flowers blooming in the dark. Ways to love without failing too, even at the darkest hour. What I know to be pure and genuine is in the way you care for others beyond yourself. The way you love persistently. Only you are like the moon, so full, so full.

Everyone that loves you know the outbursts is not in your voice.

Hands flaring. Nose glaring. The outbursts are not by choice.

Pitch getting loud, redirection leading to nowhere.

These outbursts are only noise.

For a mind overflowing with visions of sunsets, and Orion and dreams of a little star that could, even as tears gently roll.

In the end, there are lessons with each noise, lessons though not by choice, and lessons through your voice.

And they all remind us of choirs of angels singing at a place called Gethsemane.

This beautiful image from Lucille Clifton Everett Anderson series helps to personify what a meltdown often looks like.

We went to the Live Sky Tonight show at the Planetarium yesterday. It was a first for us. When we visit the Planetarium we usually watch the show the Little Star that Could. This time, I decided to try something different. I completely forgot my first son only loves the same thing. He is also obsessed with the solar systems and I thought I was doing something great to expand his knowledge base. Well I thought wrong. The show was great. He loved every moment of it. It was the end. He kept on asking so when are we going to watch the movie Little Star that Could. I told him we didn’t come for it plus besides it happens only in the morning and we’ll it would have to be another day. That didn’t go well with him and right there in the middle of the room, a full melt down began.

We pleaded and pleaded but his mind went somewhere else. Completely unable to process anything we were saying. So I did the best I could, with baby in my arm, picked him up, and proceeded to walk him out of the planetarium. There were stares. The kind that makes you want to go somewhere and hide and wait till the world is asleep to come out. My son kept raising his voice as if he would get help from his over stimulation. We kept walking what seemed liked forever until we got outside and straight to the car. I felt really terrible for my other kids because they wanted to see other parts of the planetarium. But having a meltdown meant that we had to all go home.

Keeping this here as a reminder that having a child on the spectrum will push you out of your limits. We don’t have meltdowns as much as we used to. In fact during the show I remembered when we first came to the Planetarium and how I vowed we would never be back. I watched in amazement as my son sat still and took it all in. There is growth through the spectrum and we see it for ourselves every single day. But there are still moments and days where nothing seems to work and it’s like the beginning where nothing seems to make sense. We know these days are part of his stories and that he is even sorry, in fact always sorry for causing such a meltdown. He says so himself, apologizing for what he can’t seem to control. That’s why I will always be grateful for him. For the grace he teaches even under enormous stress. My only hope is not for this to pass, but more for us to remember that lessons of a meltdown with children on the spectrum. The grace too that follows after so much stress. We keep learning from him every day.

We are how we live. How we bake too, like meat pies made in love. How we dream, how we hope, through thick and thin plus time. I choose your eternity. Choose your smiles too. Something about the power of you. Keeps me smiling. Like how we smiled today. How I hope we smile tomorrow and eternity.

Big smiles full of joy. 

For pies full of meat, full of potatoes, full of love, full of you. All of you. Your smile, like blue skies, brings joy, brings light, brings goodness, brings life, for things as simple as baking. I encounter this love, time and time again, everything we bake. I feast in your love. This love I name, that glimmers with each pie we make, begins with you. As the meat pies rise, so must we. All of us who choose to keep this joy, for meat pies made with love. What we did today, is all that counts. Through meat pies, laughter, flour in disarray, but love as we know it, our way is the real mood. I am loving us, through meat pies, the source of our joy. Keep them with your kids.

Spring time picnics have begun

I watched you the other night and wondered out loud to myself, where are you.

Surrounded by so many of them, few that looked like you, I felt like screaming out loud, where are you.

I waited for you to turn, waited for you to look my way, waited to see if your stride is still as confident as you are, waited to hear whether your voice is just as striking too.

You did. It is.

There you are. There you are still more beautiful than the rising sun.

Still with your crooked smile that melts my heart like on the day you first arrived. Still with a voice so serene, so charismatic like the call of birds.

Someday, somewhere, someone like me, will write about you, about your confident walk, your crooked smile, your charismatic voice, and how something tried but failed to dim the sun, and all it’s brilliance.

To know you, is to see the sun.

Image by Miranda M with ua_designed on instagram.

I think about black girls a lot. Black boys too. How they live and grow in a society that batters them before they turn 15. I watch whether they still stand erect as trees or not. Whether they have voice. Whether they remain rooted or not, in something stronger that whatever society throws their way. And society is out for them. I know this too well having grown in places that would rather we remain invisible than seen. Few care to dig in the night. I know. But when the possibilities of treasures like stars resides in them, why not dig. I choose to dig to see their light for myself. All they ways they bend and still stand. All they ways they speak, walk, confident in their words and stride. I choose to see because seeing is all we can do when society would rather they stay invisible. I hope to write one day letters that celebrate them, lift them up to, through the struggles, and still remain a fountain of joy for them. This is my prayer. That I too will keep seeing all black girls and boys, just as they are. Like the brilliance of the sun.