Thursday, May 19, 2011
Lesson 54: Born to Fly
Mother Eloise had a bit of fun altering the above photo of my now-teenaged daughter. The chair on the cover is her birthday gift. Natalie is like her mommy in many respects. She resembles me the most out of my children and she LOVES to be outside. Swinging is one of her favorite pass times. We bought her this chair to hang on our deck so she can sit and swing all summer long. It has a little roof to shade her fair skin from the sun and cup holders on either arm rest to hold her nice cool drink.
We let the kids drink more pop than usual in the summertime and Natalie prefers Sprite. Natalie isn't known for being a detail freak, so she usually just grabs a shiny, green can out of the garage refrigerator after we affirm her "Pop is good, mom" statement/question. Once in awhile her inattention to detail stings her because she'll mistakenly grab one of MY shiny, green cans I keep in there on occasion--Rolling Rocks. We usually hear a guttural scream "IT'S ALL YUCKY!" and she comes running at us wiping her tongue. Guess the German genetics aren't coming into play yet. Maybe she'll like the vino like her Italian relatives someday.
Someday.....hmmmm.....what will that bring? I can't venture to guess and I am trying not to for fear of limiting her. In 13 years, Natalie has already far surpassed our expectations from when we received the Autism/Mental Retardation diagnosis at age 2. Years of therapy, the Barber National Institute, and many, many patient people have allowed Natalie to bloom and flourish. Today, Natalie enjoys people, is a cheerleader for the Harbor Creek Sparkles program, ice skates with the Gliding Stars, can read, and takes dance lessons at Keri's Dance Studio. This year her routine is to Love Shack. I loved how the cover shot of the Pier 1 catalog had a B-52ish girl on the front. Natalie's dance costume looks kind of like that. Now if she'll just let me do her hair in the bump-it, we'll be all set.
Natalie has taken to the liking of counting money lately, and on several occasions has cleaned out all of the wallets and piggy banks in our entire house, unbeknownst to us. Ellen opened one of their purses to find it stuffed with cash. She inquired as to where Natalie got all of the money. Upon a quick search we found the little thief cleaned us out. To our amazement she looked at us and said, "OOOHHHHH. Look at money. Go shopping." Natalie is really hard to be mad at.
The autism outlook at the turn of the millennium was grim. Kids were getting diagnosed every day, and the prognosis wasn't good. Even today's autism numbers are staggering, 1 out of every 99 and one in every 50 families. Wow. Programs to help these unique individuals were just getting up and running and there was not much long term data to draw from. I never believed that Natalie would be sitting in a corner rocking, banging her head and biting herself for long. No, way. No, how. Not if Mother Eloise had anything to do with it. I've been told I'm stubborn lately. In this instance, by bullheadedness was a good thing. I refused to give up.
There was a period of time when she quit looking at me. So I did what any good mother would do--I sat on top of her one day and put my forehead to hers and held it there until she looked into my eyes. I just heard her teacher, Mr. Fritts cringe when he read this and look up the number to Children's Services. He used to be her Behavior Specialist before he was her teacher. Although this is in line with behavior training drills, I doubt this is exactly what her had in mind when he trained me many years ago. When she would meet my gaze with her big, pools of blue, I would spin her around which she loved. I then would make her hold my gaze for three seconds, then five, then ten, and as long as she could without blinking before I reinforced her. As she grew, my back could no longer take the spinning, so we switched to bubbles. After the bubble build-up made my kitchen floor became treacherous, we didn't need reinforcements any longer. Just my attention was enough. Mission accomplished.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that Natalie reminded me of a butterfly. She sang the song Butterfly Fly Away by Miley Cyrus for the beauty pageant Little Miss Lovely, she was in this past February. During her childhood, Natalie reminded me of that caterpillar--an awkward, twichy thing that ate all of the time (in Natalie's case, McDonald's french fries). It seems that she spun herself a little cocoon that she is now emerging from. She's hanging there (maybe in her swing chair) with wet wings, ready to spread them. She was born to fly and who am I to stop her?
The song posted below is from American Idol this season. It is from one of our early favorites who has rode the fame train all the way to the semi finals--Lauren Alaina. This spectacular Georgia sixteen year old did a great rendition of Sara Evans' song Born to Fly. I actually believe Lauren's version is better than the original. Take a listen and judge for yourselves. I have my idol ticket vouchers in my fireproof box already. Natalie will be going to see her in Pittsburgh on August 10th. When you get to this lyric, "I've been tellin' my dreams to a scarecrow, of the places that I want to see, I said "Friend do you think I'll ever get there?" and he just stands there smilin' back at me." Then check out the picture of Natalie and Erik at their ice show with those ridiculous straw hats on and it will make you laugh.
You can bet my little butterfly will have this song and many others loaded onto her brand new iPod touch she won at her Autism Talent show last week. Yep. Natalie won the grand prize! I can just see her now, sitting in her swing, listening to her favorite tunes, with an ice cold Rolling Rock in the cup holder. See, I told you she is just like her Momma.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. The impairment of a child is one of life's biggest disappointments, but in many regards it has brought us great joy. We celebrate our successes and don't sweat the small stuff. We don't set limits on ourselves or our children. We believe anything is possible through hard work and the blessings of our Good Lord.
So, in the questions sung by young Lauren Alaina,
But how do you wait for heaven?
And who has that much time?
And how do you keep your feet on the ground
When you know that you were born,
You were born to fly?
Here is your answer, Natalie: You have all the time in the world, my dear daughter, and one of the most patient mothers known to man. Take your sweet old time, sweet girl. Spread your wings when you are ready and don't let me hold you back. You don't have to keep your feet on the ground, because baby, you were born to fly.
Fly baby, fly,
Posted by eloise hawking at 5:37 AM