Several months ago, I agreed to preach on Pentecost Sunday, at the church where my parents worship, in southern Illinois. I like pulpit supply work, especially when the obligation provides an excuse for my little family to visit my parents for a few days. But as the dates for this trip drew closer, the vision I had of this family weekend grew more and more dim.
First, my husband’s work schedule changed, making us delay our departure by a day or leave him at home. Then our older son came home from school, running a fever and complaining he didn’t feel like himself. Long story short, I figured I’d make the trek alone this time, so I downgraded my plans to just an overnight trip, even though that meant I’d spend more time in the car than I would with my parents.
To my surprise, our younger son said he wanted to come with me. He’s not a huge fan of time in the car, so I figured he’d change his mind before I even got around to packing our suitcase. But he stuck with his decision, citing “time with mom” as enough of a pro to outweigh all the cons on his list.
I have often wondered out loud what our younger son’s personality would look like if his world wasn’t pre-set by the needs of his older brother (and a mother who is just as fond of routine as any person on the autism spectrum). Many of his behaviors are clearly inspired by his wanting to emulate his brother or by pushing back against boundaries his dad and I have put in place for “the good of the whole” (sometimes at the expense of the one).
I’m not saying he was an entirely different person on this trip, but I was pleasantly surprised by the different rhythm we enjoyed – from his trying (and liking!) new foods to engaging his grandparents with board games and visits to their chicken coop, rather than whining about being bored and asking for more computer time. Our uninterrupted conversations and new collection of shared experiences (with the added bonus that they weren’t shared with anyone else) were good for both of us and made something more out of an opportunity I never saw coming.
Pictured above: me with my youngest (age 3)