We have all been in situations that make us uncomfortable. That queasy feeling in our tummies is usually a good barometer for sensibility. For me, one of my biggest fears is heights. I can get the vertigo going in under one second. It isn't pretty but it is a protection from putting myself in a position of danger. What do you do when your fear is SO BIG that it keeps you from doing new things? Or having experiences that are new?
Yesterday was the second memorial for James' beloved Papa, my husband's father. James loved him so much because he accepted James always. No changes necessary, James was perfect in Papa's eyes. They were best friends. Papa would do anything for and with James. Unconditional love for James is often difficult. As his parents, we are constantly trying to tweak, mold and modify. It is the same with his teachers and therapists. Papa just accepted and loved. There was never an angry word. He never raised his voice, only love and peace. My father-in-law was a pharmacist in his professional career. When he retired he studied and became a Reiki Master. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this Eastern Healing technique, it is basically the transference of healing power from one to another. >>here<< He shared this healing with elders in the community, nurses at a well respected hospital and those in the hospice program through another hospital. When visiting those in Hospice, he would often provide Reiki to the caregivers as well as the patients. That was just who this man was. Always giving and caring for others.
Papa loved his grandchildren intensely! He went to concerts, award ceremonies, graduations, birthday parties... He will be greatly missed! On the last day we visited him before his passing, I shared the video of James playing Smoke on the Water. >>HERE<< Papa was so thrilled to see and hear this, so we told him the next time we visited, we would make sure to bring his guitar and James would play it for him. Papa passed away 2 days before we were scheduled to see him again. So James performed it at the first memorial service.
Back to yesterday, second memorial service. Tons of people James doesn't know, long drive, new environment, I'm sure you can see where this is going. Simply playing a song on his electric guitar for Papa's memorial service made his fear debilitating and viscerally primal. He withdrew, left the service with me in tow, and for the next 45 minutes negotiated the crap out of a simple 54 second experience to get the best deal possible. Here is my blog on the constant Autism Negotiation that goes on in my house every day. Don't worry, I'll wait. (Cue Jeopardy Music) >>HERE<< James is black belt in negotiations and as he has aged he has gotten better at crafting the best deal out of his exhausted parents. So here was the deal that was finally agreed upon, a new Game-Boy (we were already going to get him one), supper at Denny's (we had already planned to go), I would sit with him and tell him the notes as he played (common practice in our practice sessions so no biggie), not having to go shopping with us on Sunday (love having him along but again, no biggie) and staying up until 12AM to get in some Minecraft time (this one was done as a final ditch and I hoped he had forgotten, but no). You decide who won this one.
Here is the song (recorded this morning after a few hours of sleep). ENJOY... >>HERE<< As soon as he finished this song at the memorial, the fear lifted, the James we know arrived. He continued with the slide presentation I had created for the grand kids to do (I needed to step in for our daughter who is away at college). James joked, read his pages with clarity and he was amazingly proud of his accomplishment! He prevailed! He put fear in its place. There is a big difference between healthy fear and "stage fright." James had stage fright, he faced it head on and came out the other side healthier and wonderfully transformed. Encouraging our kids to face things that are scary can be a balancing act. We don't want to push them so hard that we break them, but we do want to give them the opportunity (and a strong enough deal) to accomplish and shine. Walk through the fear with your head high little man, don't worry, I am with you every step of the way!!