Some days I wonder if what we’re doing with Tate is really working. I start to feel itchy and overwhelmed by all of his appointments, therapies, IEP goals and pull-outs with specialists. I think of the things he can’t do, and forget to focus on the things he can do. Then, a day like last Thursday afternoon comes along and makes me realize that we’re doing this all for the right reasons…for our Tater Tot. Jake had a swimming lesson. Tate can’t handle the group-class setting, so he isn’t doing lessons right now. I need to arrange for a private lesson for him. It’s on my “To-do” list. I’ll get to it sometime between now and whenever. While Jake does his lessons, Cole happily goes to the childcare room at our Y. He is content to play in that room again, choosing to do arts and crafts with the cute teenage teacher. Tate hangs out with me. Typically, he wants to play on his DS or my phone. On Thursday, he seemed a bit restless. He asked to go for a walk.
As we walked around the Y, we walked past a few of the game tables that they have set up. There is air hockey, ping-pong, and foosball/table soccer. Tate was mesmerized by the air-hockey table on Thursday. He wanted to play on it. At that particular moment, though, there were 2 kids playing already. They were unaware of Tate’s obsession, and they were enjoying their game. I told Tate we’d walk around and check later. Instead of perseverating on that game, he agreed to continue our walk. We walked by the gym, past the bathrooms, and up the stairs. Tate decided that the weight room looked boring, so he asked if we could take the “alligator” back down. He was being so well-behaved that I allowed him to take the elevator, and he got to press the buttons. He was in heaven.
Once we reached the lower level, he ran to the air-hockey table. It was empty. He turned around, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Can we play this, please?” I heartily agreed to play with him. We went to front desk, got the equipment, and came back. I turned on the table. My little man’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. He rubbed his hand, then his arm along the top of the table. “It’s so tickl-y, Mommy!” He put his face down to the table, and put his eyes at that level. He let the slight breeze tousle his hair. He took the little “puck” and shot it across the table and through my goal. “Yay!!! Whoo-hoo!” Oh my gosh…he gets how this is played!!! “Way to go, Tater!!!”
I started the game again. I slid the puck back to him, and he send it sliding back towards my goal. I defended the goal this time.
“Aw, Mom…it didn’t work.”
“I’m not going to make it that easy on you, Tater…”
He looked at me with a glimmer in his eye. He shot the puck back at me, and scored again.
“Yay!!! Whoo-hoo!! I did it!”
“Yes, yes you did.”
Can you guess how long Tate and I played this game? Like, legitimately played? TWENTY MINUTES! We played a back and forth game, with talking and laughing, for twenty minutes. Six months ago, heck, 6 weeks ago, this would not have been possible. I loved every stinking moment of our interaction. We talked about the game. We talked about the vibration from the electricity. We talked about where electricity comes from (according to Tate, it comes from the wall. I suggest you not argue that point with him.). We sang songs from his favorite shows. We did spelling words. We talked about his brothers. We connected. Let me say that again….we connected.
When it got to be about 5 minutes from the time that we had to be done, I started to give a warning. Tate didn’t want to stop playing. I gave another warning at 2 minutes. Finally, when it was time to wrap it up, I told him that it had been a lot of fun, but that we had to be done because we had to get his brothers. I anticipated a fight. Instead, Tate came over, turned off the table, and helped me carry the equipment back to the front desk.
I can’t guarantee that it will go this smoothly every time, but I am enjoying my memories from that afternoon…of those twenty minutes where he and I truly connected. Those memories will get me through the rough patches…and remind me of why we keep doing what we’re doing.