I recently went to a restaurant that I had not been to in a number of years. And in the restaurant is this game that I am sure you have all seen….
The claw grabber!

The one with the claw that drops down into a bin of toys, stuffed animals etc.
So as I went to sit down with my family, I glanced at this game and had a wash of memories. You see Michael and I used to play this very game when we went to get his ears checked when he was younger. And as the recipient of seven sets of tubes, there was a lot of checking to be done.

I had a bunch of feelings seeing it again and mentally picturing a very young Michael playing it and clapping when he got a toy. Michael won a big purple bear and couldn’t wait to give it to his sister Elizabeth. As a sat at the table for dinner, I thought about these fond memories while looking at the 13 year old young man Michael has now become.

Sometimes, things like this will make me take pause. It is like a quick run, not walk, down memory lane and sometimes, memory lane tugs at your heart.
But the good or the gift of that tugging is that you have those memories. The ones you took the time to make.

I think when you are a parent of a special needs child, so much of your time or your family’s time can be spent thinking or, going to, or working on therapies for your child. Each day can seem to be the same but in reality will be very different. So being aware of making memories may not be on the top of the list.

Something I learned so early on in this journey with Elizabeth, think age 4 or so, is to remember to let them be kids too! I have to say thank you to Mary, our beloved and first therapist, for this one.

For those of you who don’t know, Elizabeth is my daughter with special needs. She had global dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder (SPD). She has worked so very hard in her life each day!

Mary told me:
That more is not always better
To let her get dirty.
To let her have the extra treat.
To let her have a bit of a later bedtime.

In other words, I learned to find the balance so that Elizabeth, whose day to day life is work, can be allowed to enjoy her childhood amidst it all.

I have to say, I struggled with this.

I wanted to keep her MOVING straight ahead. I used to think what is next and come on let’s keep going!

So, as you can see I had to really retrain my thinking. But I am so happy that I did because I could then see the gift of down time, enjoy the down time and make memories with Elizabeth and our family.

Was it always easy to take her to a new place or a do a new thing? No, it was not. But I know we tried and when it was successful, we got to enjoy it, put those memories in our hearts and simply celebrate them.

I am grateful for the gift of that advice and at times when I still find myself putting into her schedule that last little thing, I tell myself to remember that advice.

So maybe these words will be good ones for someone today. I hope so.

I can tell you Elizabeth loved her new purple bear and I know that because it is on top of her bed each morning… the memories continue and I love it that way!
I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister”