You ever have one of those experiences in life where you wonder what in the world you were thinking when you signed up? Ya, that’s me this week. Our new church, a place of safety and healing, is having their Summer Extreme Days. Extreme they are. Our whole family is either serving or participating for 3 hours every day, plus 30+ minutes of driving there and back. Did you notice? Yes, even my superMAN is donning his crazy hats and loving on the kids. It makes my heart exceedingly full.
Seeing as this would be a new experience for Little E, probably a bit overwhelming–sensory overload–and a bit late every night, I thought long and hard as to whether I should sign her up or not. I decided that since this was not going to be a “free babysitting” opportunity for me and that instead I wanted her to fully be immersed in this, I would sign up to be her special helper. Ya…I like trying new things. (wink, wink) I wanted to make sure that she was forced to go through every activity, engage with her teachers and peers, sing the songs, do the crafts, play the games, etc. I wanted her to get something out of this, but yet I knew I was talking about my autistic daughter. How much would any of this matter anyway?
I have to admit that the first night when 400+ children became a sea of navy blue shirts alongside the charcoal grey leader shirts, I thought I was either going to lose my mind or my child. It was pure insanity as I tried to keep an eye on Little E among the sea of blue and grey. It got worse as darkness fell. Thankfully, I did not lose my bullet child that first night and glow sticks have become my new best friend.
Each day I have gone through the motions with her, stretching her to participate longer at each activity each day. It has been exhausting on top of our regularly crazy life and the bonus swim lessons that currently accompany each afternoon. I have held her tight as she buries her head deep into my chest as the moving lights, loud music and movement of a crowded room overwhelms her. I have answered question after question as people ask me about my normal looking daughter as to why she needs me there–if only they knew the half of it. If only they really knew what our daily life is like and how far she has come.
If only they heard what I did on the way home tonight as the floodgate opened. She began singing along with the music from this week. Music always tends to be the key that unlocks things for her. And yet again, it happened. Her little voice evidenced that the message of Jesus is getting through via song and making every exhausted, mind losing moment worth it.