The Best Conversation with My Son During an Afternoon Stroll

My son Jonah has autism and severe anxiety.

It has been a lifetime of people asking me, “What’s wrong with Jonah?”

There is always something, but he’s ten now, and it seems as if things are starting to change.

We always go on long walks in the afternoon. Jonah recites his “monologues”. For those of you with autistic children, you know these “conversations”. There are no pauses. There are no questions. There is just a reciting of details of events from the day. An airing of all of his thoughts and all of his daily observations. Sometimes there are feelings attached. Sometimes it’s just a cohesive rambling. These are not the ramblings of a “typical” child. They are unique in their qualities. It’s as if there is no listener at all.

But yesterday’s walk was different.

For years, I have asked both of my sons deep dive questions. I have asked questions they had to think about. I have asked for descriptions of their feelings. Instead of saying, “What happened?” I have asked, “How did that feel when it happened?” and “What would your anger look like if it appeared in front of us?”

For years, Jonah has also been in therapy to try and navigate through his anger issues and his anxiety.

He has been asked a lot of questions.

Yesterday was no different.

“What has been the best part of your school year so far?” I asked him as we walked around the bend in the sidewalk.

“I have made a lot of new friends this year,” he answered. “Which is surprising because of COVID.”

“Interesting,” I responded. “What has been the hardest part of your school year?”

“COVID,” he said. This was not surprising. But what happened next really was. ‘What about you, Mom? What has been your favorite part of your school year?”

I paused. I did not have answer, and I was starting to realize how tough these questions are.

“Uhm, I am not sure. The best part, huh?” I continued to flounder.

“Yeah,” he continued. “Which part did you really like?” Again I was drawing a blank. Seeing my struggle, he tried to help. “Did you make any new friends this year?”

I thought about this question for a moment. Had I made any new friends? My mind ran through the list of new people I have met, but I would not constitute them as friends.

And then I remembered all of the really wonderful people I have connected with through this blog and this platform.

And I remembered the ELD teacher who is working with me this year and how we laugh about the craziness of school through text.

Finally, I thought about the deepening friendships I have through work. People I have been friends with for years, but this year our bond took on an entirely new level.

And I smiled.

“I really liked that the difficultness of the pandemic helped me forge better relationships with the people around me. I think this is my favorite thing.”

Jonah folded his hands together as he started to ask me what the hardest thing has been for me.

But that is for another time, my friends.

Love and Light!

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