Tuesday evening, the kids and I had a pretty mellow night. After dinner, we checked out the new basketball court and tennis court at our apartment complex—which is amazing—and we spent the rest of the evening not doing much of anything.
So, why is this worthy of a blog post?
I was reminded of the old saying, “It’s the small things” throughout that time. Ethan had been such a good soldier throughout the evening, desperately wanting to play his video games. With his autism (and a dose of nine year old boy), he would play his Nintendo DS and be off in his own world as much as I would allow him.
There have been times where we’ve had struggles because he is so intent on playing his game, he didn’t want to take part in family time. After setting some rules and routines for him, Ethan has been fantastic in not asking every 15 minutes if he can play his game. After acknowledging to him my understanding of the importance the game holds for him and the alone time it brings, I believe we are now partners in this journey and he is definitely on board.
Normally, once family time has ended and Ethan is in Game-land, he only peeks his head out when his allotted time is up. However, last night, as I went to check on him, something magical happened…
He asked me if I would like to watch him play his game.
He invited me into his world.
He doesn’t do this as often as I would like, so when he does, you can bet I jump at the opportunity.
We found a comfortable position where we both could see the small screen of his Nintendo DS and off we went into Game-land. His game of choice on this night was Lego Pirates of the Caribbean and, of course, his character of choice was Captain Jack Sparrow.
He asked my opinion on which adventure he should choose and we discussed the pros and cons of each, putting the proper amount of weight on this hefty decision. We made our selection and Ethan walked me through what he was doing with each swing of the sword.
While Ethan is overall a happy, chatty boy, there was something different during this time. He would, at important moments of our adventure, pause the game to ask my opinion or to explain to me what was happening as if I didn’t understand…but there was a light in his eyes that was different from the usual and one I love seeing.
He was enjoying his time with Dad—or “Pops,” as he’s started to call me recently—but the reason he was enjoying it so much was because he was the teacher, the expert. He invited me into his world, I accepted the invite and we were able to connect on a wonderful level for whatever amount of time it was. I lost track of the time because I was enjoying it so much and, more importantly to me, so did Ethan.
It’s the small things, folks.
Simplistically, I sat with a nine year old boy and watched him play video games, essentially.
In truth, however, I made his day by acknowledging his hobbies and his passions were something worthy. I emboldened him by reminding him the ways he chooses to calm himself after living another day with Autism—something I will never be able to truly understand from a first-hand experience—is a good choice.
I reminded him of a Father’s love and how it will always be there, never wavering.
I helped BOTH of us have a memory of his childhood for life, a positive one that will bring a smile to each of our faces each time we think back and remember this time.