Every parent has dreams for their child. They expect the typical mountains to climb, the challenges of raising a child and the thrill of finally overtaking the crest of a problem and coasting downhill until the next bump in the road comes along.
Our daughter, Abbi, was born prematurely. She failed to thrive and after moving from feeding via an NG tube that went from her nose to her stomach to a more permanent gastronomy button, there was a period of about three years where she ate nothing by mouth. After an open heart surgery, two surgeries on her IG track and delays in speech she was diagnosed with Autism. Abbi started life out in the Alps.
The challenges we faced are weren’t the typical ones. My wife and daughter didn’t fit in at the Mommy N’ Me classes. Like a lot of kids on the spectrum, Abbi liked to swing. When she was small enough, my wife and I got a couple of yards of spandex. We would take Abbi out to the back yard, put her in the middle of the fabric and swing her. It was the only activity we did that was sure to bring out a smile. When she was 5, I asked her what it was about swinging that she liked so much. “Da, (she couldn’t say dad), makes hills move”.
That summer, we were at our friends’ house for a visit. They have two girls who are all grown up now, but at the time were in middle school. We were spending so much time and energy on just getting Abbi to eat by mouth. It was exhausting and a break with friends was exactly what we needed. The girls took Abbi to their back yard and were sitting with her on one of those swinging benches with a canopy. I was at the kitchen window and just happened to look up as one of the girls handed Abbi a partially pealed banana. Without a word from anyone, as they slowly swung, Abbi took a bite. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal. A kid eating a banana isn’t usually a cause to alert the media. But in that back yard, I saw a mountain go by.
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