“What’s wrong with the baby?”
Leave it to a New Yorker to get straight to the point. Granted Nathan was crying his head off in his high-pitched pathetic voice following the sound of a plate breaking.
“Oh nothing,” my husband replied. “He just doesn’t like loud sounds.”
And he’s very tired. And he’s out of his environment. And this is New York.
Oh and he has, Cri du chat syndrome!
There it is. There’s the real, bottom line heart of the problem. He’s missing the DNA critical, in his case, to walking, talking, eating, peeing, handling loud noise, basic things we take for granted every single day. Cri du chat affects everything.
In situations like this we feel pressure to make a split second decision of whether to tell more, or not. This time we chose to not. It felt like too much after a long day. We would never see this Greek restaurant owner, again.
“Here’s a banana. Will that help?”
He so badly wanted to make it better. And what better way then with food, right? That’s why we call mashed potatoes and chicken pot pie comfort food, cause it does just that. It makes you feel better.
What about when you can’t eat?
What’s the feel-better equivalent of food? And how can I offer up to someone else a way to connect with a child who is not typical? I ask this question for others as much as I do for myself.
I think the answer is quite simple: touch and eye contact. These two things Nathan does really well. He loves to be cuddled and held. When I am cooking, he’s constantly at my heels grunting to be picked up. Or, more recently he leans his back up against my leg just right to have that physical touch and connection. He’s also good at eye contact. If he’s in the mood for making a connection he’ll gaze into your eyes trying to interpret what it is that you are saying to him. Lately, I’m finding myself nose-to-nose during our quiet conversations. I know it’s not appropriate to be so close to a stranger, but a simple touch to the arm and a kind, unwavering look into his eyes means the world to him.
Touch and eye contact. Those two simple gestures say, I see you and I’m not afraid of you. I accept you and your differences.
If I really think about it, that’s how we all want to be comforted on some level, with touch and connection to another human being. In that way, there is nothing wrong with Nathan. And in that way, Nathan is not much different from the rest of us.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Mac 19:14
My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!
Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!