It’s almost 12am and I’m sitting here typing up a blog post because I need to write this out before I forget it. Before I forget how it feels – to win a small victory in the battle for a “normal” life for my kids.
We watched the fireworks tonight. All of us. Sitting together, in typical, tippy lawn chairs with a slightly damp picnic blanket. Swatting bugs, giggling at the toy lights and glow sticks that we brought, and eating a snack together.
Sounds normal, right? Just another American family celebrating a much-loved tradition of watching explosives go off in a pyrotechnic display.
It’s not normal for my family.
Ever year, ever since we decided that the kids were old enough to handle staying up until very late, we’ve tried to watch the fireworks. And every year, it ends in screams, running, terrified sobbing, or hiding in the car with noise-canceling headphones on. That’s our normal. Our normal is trying to help our oldest 2e child with Sensory Processing Disorder manage his SPD without feeling horrible. Without feeling like an outcast. Without getting weird looks from those surrounding us who can’t understand why a kid wouldn’t love fireworks.
You might think we should stop trying – that we shouldn’t subject him to this horrifying ordeal. But here’s the thing – he loves watching fireworks. He just couldn’t handle the deep, percussive noise that they produce. So should we have kept him home, had a normal bedtime, and hoped that by the time he was an adult that he could deal with it?
No. We kept trying. We stayed close to the car. We brought his headphones or covered his ears. We tried our best to help him cope – and to help him feel like he wasn’t missing out on the fun. We pushed his boundaries, and we pushed him.
I don’t know if some developmental jump helped his nervous system outgrow some part of the SPD or if our constant desensitization work actually helped him get over it. For whatever reason, he did great tonight. He sat there, sometimes holding his hands over his ears, with a constant verbal stream spewing out of his mouth, and he coped. He did it! I’m so proud of him, and I’m so happy that he managed to make it through.
Sometimes we forget that our kids are superheroes: people who fight battles every single day just to do what average people don’t think twice about. It’s exhausting, fighting battles all the time. It’s stressful, trying to be normal. It’s hard.
I’m raising a warrior. A child who knows that he can win. A child who knows that even though yesterday was hard, today is a new day and it could be the day that he wins.
And today was that day. Today he won this battle. Today, our family was able to sit and watch the fireworks together and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Today was normal. Today was wonderful. Today makes the battles of yesterday seem distant and gone.
My heart is too full for words.
I love this image, and I’m still not entirely sure how it happened. It makes my daughter look like a superhero – and maybe she is because she didn’t have any lights in the middle where the brightest light shines.