Ten years ago, I gave birth to one of the most wonderful human beings I know. He was born with an imperforate anus with his head as big as my palm. He was 5.3 pounds and I was even told he might have a weak heart. It was not the “ideal” situation for a first-time mom, but in my eyes – he was perfect. He had very thick hair, gentle eyes, and a trusting grip. It was enough for me to fall in love with him forever.
Tomorrow is my Marcus’ birthday. He is autistic. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s – a high-functioning form of autism at the age of six.
Here are the lessons I have learned in those ten years:
1. It is possible for one person to talk for hours and hours (if given the chance) about guns, m-16’s, helicopters, trucks, dinosaurs, and Minecraft.
2. The world can be cruel especially because there are people who would never understand the words “Autism” or “Aspergers” and if you do try to explain it, they will look at you differently or worse pity me for having a child like Marcus.
3. In this cruel world though, there are a lot of people that rise above. To the Jollibee personnel who patiently took my son’s order and never losing her smile and asked my son to sign for his PWD discount – thank you. To the security guards who answer my son’s questions about their guns and how they do their jobs – thank you. To the teachers who have PATIENTLY and DILIGENTLY taught my son to read, write and interact – thank you. This list will go on and on (but I think you get the picture…)
4. Kindness can go a long way. My Marcus never forgets to say “thank you” or “I love you” or give you a hug or a kiss or remind me to stop working and rest. And even though there are times that I am angry at him for something he has done, at the end, he still says “I love you” and “I’m sorry.”
5. When my patience has run out because of his questions or because of something he has done – I have several choices, shout (which I often do) or you can joke around it (which I sometimes do) or you can hug him and kiss him (which I love to do).
6. A child’s intellect can never be measured by grades or how fast he can read or how fast he can count. My Marcus already knows strategy games and has become an expert even before he can read.
7. Do not put people in boxes. My Marcus is way out of the “ordinary” and in the spectrum of things, he would never be called “normal.” Who loves “normal” anyway? I pity the mothers who can no longer kiss their kids in public because they feel they are old enough not to. My Marcus still allows me to do so. I love it when he still holds my hand when we are at the mall or doing the groceries or just go with me on errands.
8. Sarcasm, lies or “in-between” answers are not allowed. My Marcus will never understand sarcasm or answers like “maybe”, he only understands “yes” or “no” and I love that because it makes people more honest and direct and I think that has rubbed off on me too.
9. Dream differently. I was told by Marcus’ Developmental Psychologist that he will never be a lawyer or an engineer or an architect because of his IQ. So, I told my Marcus that he can be whatever he wants to be when he grows up. He wanted to be a garbage collector before because they operate big trucks – I told him “Sure, just finish college first.” And then he wanted to be a Power Ranger and then he wanted to be a soldier. I think we are sticking to being a soldier for a while until the next big dream.
10. It takes a village to raise a child – our version – it takes the whole Lozada fam to raise a Marcus. Lola will prepare his food and take care of his other needs. Lolo will fetch him to school. Mommy will work and earn a living. Wendy (a.k.a. Reigina) will take care of school assignments and lessons. Tiger (a.k.a Rayson) will discipline. Chief (a.k.a Miray) and Tipsy (a.k.a. Rina) will provide for prizes, entertainment, etc. While Motik (a.k.a Adrian) will be the playmate, brother, friend, enemy extraordinaire. With the special participation of Lola Zenny to send goodies and Lego toys. 🙂