Poetry Corner: Finding Courage

I wait
With bated breath.
I try to prepare myself
For the unknown in this moment.

Fear has settled itself in my heart.

Poetry Corner: Finding Courage https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/poetry-corner-finding-courage/

These are small moments for most.
Normal events in childhood.
There shouldn’t be fear. Trembling. Uncertainty.
But there is for me.
These moments terrify me.

I sit, watching the speech therapist
Spoon out the bit of red Jell-O.
Just a tiny amount on the spoon.
Most kids like Jell-O, I think.
The thought enters my mind quickly,
Yet I try to make it disappear.
Comparison always tries to steal my joy.
I grip my chair, waiting
Because I know what is coming next.
The tears well up in his beautiful face,
His cheeks turn red,
And he sobs, screams,
And turns the Jell-O away.
I fear he won’t eat “normal” foods.
It wrecks me.
Eat, baby boy. Please eat.

I stand, watching the Sunday School teacher
Share the rest of the Bible story
With the group of children as church ends.
My fingers touch the glass, as I look in
Watching as he lays across the table.
He’s content to be doing his own thing,
Oblivious to the world around him.
I fear he won’t be able to sit still
Long enough to listen.
Kindergarten is so close. A year away.
It wrecks me.
Learn, baby boy. Please learn.

I walk, holding his hand as we make our way to the swim instructor.
While other kids sit at the edge,
He stands and cries out for Mommy
As I move to the nearest chair, helpless,
Fifteen feet, but endless miles, away.
My heart aches and tears roll,
As the instructor guides,
And while the preschoolers listen and do tasks
He stares into the distance instead.
I fear he won’t learn how to protect himself from his never-ending curiosity.
I fear that this is a waste for him and that
He is wasting his instructor’s time.
It wrecks me.
Swim, baby boy. Please swim.

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In these difficult moments, I breathe out slowly
As seconds, days, months, and years pass.
My fear begins to dissipate
Because I have now realized something.
Something that completely humbles me.

My son is stronger than I am.
He is braver than I am.
And that has started to make me
Become brave, too.

Now, courage has settled itself in my heart.

I sit, watching him gobble up
A ham and cheese sandwich.
I stare in amazement as he nibbles
On the chicken, fruit, and veggies
That he once feared
And didn’t know how to chew.
I smile, knowing he still doesn’t want
That red Jell-O.
Now when he’s hungry,
I know what’s coming next.
His voice rings out
Politely asking for his food of choice.
His courage strengthens me.
My baby boy eats. Praise God, he eats.

I stand, in his amazing school’s lobby
As his therapists and teachers
Bring in my happy four-year-old boy,
Huge smiles on his face and their faces
As they share how he knows prepositional phrases,
Fourth-grade sight words,
Sings Jesus Loves Me and nursery rhymes,
And reads picture books to himself.
It shocks me when they say he masters
Tasks they put before him,
After doing them once or twice.
His courage strengthens me.
My baby boy learns. Praise God, he learns.

I walk, holding his hand as I lead him to his swim instructor.
It’s been a few days now.
She smiles, knowing he is here to tackle a new day
While he grows stronger, more confident, more comfortable.
Her swimming assistant gently grabs his hand,
Leads him into the water,
And shows him how to move those hands and feet
While a smile spreads across my boy’s face.
The end of this two-week class
May not result in confident solo swimming,
But he is trying
And he is improving every day.
And one day, he will do it.
His courage strengthens me.
He will swim. Praise God; he will swim.

In these victorious moments,
I breathe out slowly.
As seconds, days, months, and years pass.
Because I know that my fear in our hard times
Will always be overcome by
Courage, strength, and victories
No matter how small.

My son is stronger than I am.
He is braver than I am.
And that has started to make me
Become brave, too.

This article was featured in Issue 81 – Building Self-Esteem in Kids with Autism

Amy Nichols

Amy Nichols is a kindergarten teacher and a writer, and she lives in Clermont, Florida with her two precious sons, Micah (age 6), Grant (age 4), and her husband, Justin (who also just happens to be the best dad on the planet.) Grant was diagnosed with ASD just before he turned two, and since that time, he has made tremendous growth, due to the amazing early intervention, speech, OT, and ABA therapists that have crossed his path. The journey has been daunting, and the trials have been difficult at times, but Grant has proven over and over again that he is strong and courageous, by modeling the value of perseverance and determination in order to reach for the stars.