My son cried all night last night. Sometimes he does that. I long to help him, but I can’t. He is autistic, they tell me, locked inside himself, inside a world that doctors tell me I have no access to. I don’t know what he wants. He puts his hands on my face and cries, “Mamma, mamma” – one of the few words he can say – and I feel my heart break and shatter because I can’t help him. It’s like when water freezes and splits open a rock, there is no way to mend it, there is no way to stop it. My heart will always be scarred and broken by his tears.
When I first learned of his diagnosis, I was determined to pull him into my world. I sat endlessly trying to make him speak, make him look, make him do. And then slowly I began to realize that his world is beautiful too. So I stopped trying to yank him into my world and instead tried to enter his.
We sit for hours at the fountain in town watching the water skip over the stones and cascade into the pool below. We fall asleep watching snowflakes drift lazily past the window, his cheek against mine, his hand holding my little finger. We watch a bug make its wau up the wall.
I learn things about him. He loves the colour blue. He like Led Zeppelin and country music. He can’t stand still when he hears opening bars of a song he likes; he dances and giggles and gurgles until we giggle, too.
He loves without restraint, without strings, without malice. His heart is so innocent and so pure. It is breathtaking.
He see things no one else sees. To me it is a stone; to him it is a universe.
I read in a book once that having a child with special needs is like getting on an airplane for a trip. You think you are going to Venice, but then the stewardess tells you you have landed in Holland. Well, you can spend your time crying for gondolas, or you can get out and enjoy the windmills. It’s not quiet what you had expected, but it is beatiful all the same.
So I call him my little Dutch boy. To reemeber that windmills are as beaitiful as gondolas.
He fills my world with wonder and unbelievable joy.