You’re a fast one, Mr. Beckett.
You’re silent, and stealthy, and adventurous.
You love to explore, and feel, and see.
And as much as your love for adventure adds to my love for you, it’s also downright terrifying.
My brain swirls with these similar thoughts, from sun up to sun down:
What if you get a wild hair and decide to “explore” busy roads?
What if you put your “fast pants” on and decide to secretly explore a crowded parking lot?
Or you dart off towards a nearby, all-too-inviting, sparkling body of water?
What if you come to realize how uncool your parents are and decide to attempt to sneak off and explore on your own during family outings?
These are the images that absolutely haunt me;
You, alone, in a busy space, unaware, unbothered, and unsafe.
It makes me feel ill, and unstable on my feet.
Why do I have these fears, sweet boy?
It could partially be my severe clinical anxiety.
It may partially be my PTSD.
But at the root of it, it’s because I have SEEN it.
You’ve tried every trick in the book to drop to the ground while giggling, in hopes of slipping quickly past us, to explore.
I’ve watched your eyes dance as I let go of your little hand, even just to help you put on a jacket, as you plan your route to go examine that street sign over there.
And on one terrifying, earth-shattering day, I was even notified by a school teacher that you had disappeared from their sight for five or more minutes. (They had no way to know just how long).
And to you, that’s a lifetime.
A lifetime of unsafe behaviors, and excessive bravery, and room for unspeakable accidents.
I had left you in the hands of adults.
Adults meant to educate, care for, and keep you safe.
To a school; Not a Circus.
And in the 3 hours you spent there, you managed to exit the classroom unnoticed, drift through the school halls, and exit 1 set (of 2) big double exterior doors.
If you would have gotten through that 2nd set of doors and hadn’t pinched your finger within that heavy, heavy doorway, God only knows where you’d have gone.
Straight to that busy parking lot and onto the busy main road beside it, most likely.
And my entire body curls inward with pain, and fear, and resentment, even writing this.
It has been a few years since this particular incident, and with each passing day, you’ve learned more skills.
You’ve learned more about what is safe, and what isn’t.
But for a six year-old with Nonverbal Autism, it only takes a split second for those tools, and lessons to go out the window.
It takes one fascinating place or object to undo all those mental notes.
And it takes only one minute for any family’s heart to be absolutely crushed from the inside out.
To anyone that believes a special needs parent/caregiver to be that of a “helicopter parent”, I implore you to put yourself in these situations.
There’s not much other choice, than to check on your child’s well-being “minute to minute”, and not merely hour to hour.
That’s a peace-of-mind luxury that’s not afforded here.
Every second that you’re out of my sight, my miracle boy, I worry.
And though I’m hopeful that will ease with age, something tells me that Motherhood simply doesn’t work that way.
I never wish to remove your sense of adventure, and curiosity and wonder.
In fact, I frequently pray that that will never leave you, beautiful boy.
But my hope is that one day we can arrive at a place where mama’s hands can hold on to yours purely for the joy of it.
And not to prevent all our worst fears.