Real life has a lot of strife and struggle, but when you look for it, there is often real humor to be found in the face of adversity.
My son, who struggles daily with the effects of autism, has a unique gift of being able to find humor in almost any situation.
Sometimes it shows up by accident ...
Over the years, the developmental delays have caused him to have hand weakness so it has always been easier for him to wear Velcro-closure shoes. This summer, we started a daily practice of learning how to tie, because he wanted to wear regular tennis shoes like the rest of his friends.
One day, he was becoming very frustrated because he was successfully lacing up the front, but the top of the shoe kept flipping inside. After removing the shoe to show him how to put his foot inside, I said “You have to hold your tongue while you put your foot inside.”
Looking at me quizzically, my son shrugged and said, “Ok.” With one hand, he tried to pull the shoe on his foot, and reached the other hand up to his mouth, put his two fingers on either side of his tongue, and pulled on it.
It took me a second, but when I realized what he was doing, it took everything in my power not to burst into laughter right on the spot. How comical he looked standing there “holding his tongue,” just like I had told him!
After a short explanation of how the shoe had a tongue and that’s the one I wanted him to hold, we had a great laugh about it. Thanks to a great deal of hard work and patience on his part, he victoriously learned to tie his shoes and has a funny story to remember about it.
Other days, my darling son’s quick wit ends up in a good giggling session for the two of us …
Due to illness, he often has long absences from school, which requires us to do a lot of work “tutoring” at home to keep him caught up with his schoolmates.
One of our sessions had been about measurement and we were using a large ruler marked with inches and centimeters, but literally shaped like a huge “foot.” We use as many visual cues as possible to enhance his lessons, and he was especially pleased with making the ruler trot across the pages and assignments during our session. After a long afternoon of studying, we put it aside so he could get some rest.
The next morning when we were restarting our studying, we were unable to find the ruler. Without thinking, I blurted, “Where could it have gone? It couldn’t have just walked off, could it?!”
When I looked up, my son was wearing a mischievous grin as he said, “Well, mom … duh! It IS a FOOT!”
At that point, we fell into a fit of giggles … laughing until we finally discovered where the ruler had mysteriously “walked.” We still laugh every time we use it!
In watching him face autism and tackle its daily challenges, I have come to the realization that there isn’t a magic pill or one treatment that will make him all better. But whatever it takes, this is a race for his life, and we are in it to win it, with no stone left unturned.
As his mom, the most incredible lesson he has taught me over and over by his example is to positively face the world every day with a sense of humor.
Because, after all, isn’t laughter the very best medicine?