I’m on the trip of a lifetime to Alaska with my family. Five kids. Ten days. Infinite excitement. While we’re away having grand, bloggable adventures, I’m sharing some special posts by guest writers.
I’m excited to introduce you today to my friend, Janelle. Janelle bears a large part of the responsibility for this blog. See, Janelle’s an encourager. Back in the day, I was an infrequent blogger. I posted every two to six months. I wanted to write more, but I was exhausted with twin babies and special needs kids. Where in the world would I find time to write? Janelle, though, was unswerving in her consistent barrage of kind words. Randomly but frequently, she told me she’d like to hear more.
Encouragement has consequences, friends. And Janelle’s consequence is this: I write. Feel free to blame her. I do.
Thanks, Janelle, for being a part of making something that allows me a creative outlet and introduces me to new friends around the world. You’re a gift.
Now, Janelle’s no stranger to raising kids. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter. And the mother of a grown son.
Janelle and her son, Landon, have journeyed together the winding paths of diagnosing his differences. She writes,
Neither Landon nor I have any confidentiality issues with his diagnosis. You can call it Autism Spectrum Disorder, but I don’t like to emphasize the pathology, just the difference. I’m looking forward to the day when people are educated enough to feel comfortable respecting the differences instead of labeling them. I’m really proud of how far he has come.
Janelle has advocated, defended and loved her baby boy all along the way. There’s darkness on the journey; I know from my experience. But we moms – of all kinds of kids – ride to find the light.
This special blog post is one Janelle wrote several years ago about a stage on the journey with Landon.
by Janelle Wheeler Olivarez
I wrote this when Landon was in about first grade. It is only my point of view. I can’t say how much it reflects his reality. He doesn’t like to think or talk about how he was when he was younger, so I don’t know what it was really like for him. This is what it seemed like to me.
Once upon a time there was a little boy. He wasn’t very big and most people hardly noticed him, but he had a lot of bigness inside. All that bigness hurt, but he didn’t know how to let it out. Sometimes when he was playing a game he could forget about it. The bigness would get too busy to bother him, so he spent a lot of time at the computer. He lost himself in computer games.
Once he started to draw. He wrote a word and covered it with little spirals. Cinnamon rolls all around the word. Then he put spirals around the spirals until the page was full. Maybe if he could draw enough circles, the bigness would get lost, but it didn’t go away. So he drew mazes for it. He drew big and little mazes. He made mazes out of every piece of paper he could find. Some had three or four entrances. Some had loops and loops and fantastic beautiful designs. Some were very, very small. He filled notebooks with mazes. And on every one he wrote IN and OUT. But the bigness found its way through every maze, even the ones that were impossible, and some days the little boy thought he would explode.
He started folding origami. He found some books and learned to follow the pictures. He made deer and camels and pigs and butterflies. He made fortune tellers and sampans and hats and boats and wild fantastic shapes that fit together. He made offerings and spiders and lobsters and hearts and flowers and cranes and nesting birds. He invented beautiful, intricate symmetrical shapes without names. He took paper with him everywhere and folded everything. He folded handkerchiefs and napkins and money, gift wrap and homework and newspaper. It was as if he had to keep folding to keep the bigness inside from defeating him. He filled his room with folded paper figures. He hung them from his ceiling. They were everywhere all over the house, stuffed in pockets or drawers, under the couch. No matter how many his mom threw away or put in boxes to keep, the next day there were more and more.
Sometimes she cleaned his room. Throwing almost everything out, stacking papers neatly with scissors and tape and keeping some of the neater and more unusual shapes. But before long the paper creatures had covered the room again. He slept with them all night and they went everywhere with him. But the bigness is still there inside this strong little boy.
He can see how the world should be, he just can’t see why it’s not. He can understand a lot of things, but he can’t understand his own BIG, BIG feelings. They take him over sometimes and no one is there to help him.
As long as he is folding, he is making a different world for himself. It doesn’t matter what happens to these creations, it’s the folding that is important. As long as the paper doesn’t run out, there will always be another shape to coax out of its flatness and there will be a reason to pick up