Shared about autism (via Zoom) to 38 NUS Year 4 Psychology students yesterday, and received a question that made me think.
Q: In this challenging journey, what has enabled you to appreciate your child for who he is?
Yes, it had occurred to me how much easier life would be without such challenges. But something happened 4 years ago that made me realize how precious Calder is to me. That day, he boarded a bus that took him to Changi Airport and we couldn't find him for two hours. In between searching the vicinity and returning to check if he had made his way home, I was kneeling on the living room floor and crying out to God to send him back to me safely. I knew without a doubt that I never want to lose this child, autism or not.
When does love start and end? Do I say - I can appreciate Calder now that he has mellowed so much, to be able to help me cut vegetables and hang the laundry and go out together without risk of meltdowns? Do we love a person only if he is good, or show promise of improvement? Do I appreciate Calder because he is trusting, and pure and simple?
No, I have started loving Calder when I started caring for his needs and wanting the best for him. It's because of the time and the efforts, the sweat and the tears, that I love him.
The Little Prince says it well:
"But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she's the one I've watered. Since she's the one I put under glass, since she's the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she's the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she's the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she's my rose."