The last few weeks have been challenging. Since returning from the holiday break, Brady has struggled to get back into his beloved routine. He is back to walking around in circles in the evening hours and lots of frustrating moments have become our new normal. Brady is still not sleeping soundly. The new big boy bed has not quite been the smooth transition we hoped for. Concentration and focus is back to being Brady's nemesis both at home and in school. It has been a challenging few weeks for our Brady and our whole family. But with every dark cloud, comes a beautiful, bright, silver lining that peeks its way through and reminds me how remarkable my little boy truly is.
In the midst of some chaotic days, a note came home from Brady's school that changed the way we were feeling. The note brought hope. The note brought strength. The note brought smiles. The note said "attempted."
Brady has never colored a picture. He has never held a crayon or a marker or a paint brush on his own. He has always worked with a teacher or occupational therapist in a hand-over-hand assisted motion with any writing utensil. At 4 and a half years old, his developmental delays, hypotonia and sensory processing disorder, has made simple developmental tasks a struggle, especially fine motor skilled tasks. Things I took for granted with my 8-year-old daughter, Molly, are now tasks we have to practice over and over just to see our little boy drop the crayon the moment we let go of his hand. I can't remember the first time my daughter picked up a crayon or scribbled a little line on a piece of paper. I can't remember. I can't remember because it came naturally, without fanfare and very regularly. My daughter Molly learned to color, write her letters and paint sweet pictures without too many attempts. But, like with so many other little moments, our Brady has turned something sweet and simple into a major moment. Hard work, determination and Brady's undeniable spirit resulted in an attempt. A hard earned attempt.
Last week, an assignment came home in Brady's backpack. After a long day of work, running Molly back and forth to dance class and a bedtime struggle with Brady, I went through his backpack and checked for signs of his day. In the front of his folder was a coloring page that had two little scribbles in the bottom corner. Red crayon coloring. Clear little marks made by a strong little hand. In the top corner were not the words "hand over hand" or no words at all, which has always meant the teacher or aide did the coloring, not Brady, but instead the word "attempted" was written. Attempted. Brady attempted the coloring. He took that crayon, pressed hard on the paper and attempted to color all on his own. I read that one word over and over again, the tears started rolling down my cheeks before I even realized I was crying. Crying tears of such happiness. I called for my husband and Molly. My husband laughed in a giddy mix of disbelief and relief. Molly cheered so loud and the pride she had in her special little brother truly lit up her face. I quickly emailed Brady's teacher just to make sure I wasn't making this all up. In the end, all three of us ran into Brady's room and celebrated with him. We high-fived and laughed and Brady's own face told us that he certainly did make that attempt. He was proud. He didn't need to tell us, his smile said all his voice cannot.
Little things are big in the lives of children with special needs. Little things are big in the lives of those parents. Little things are big in the lives of siblings of children with special needs. We celebrate little things in our family because the hard work, the tears, the heartache and the joy that goes into each little moment is huge. So we celebrated Brady's two little red coloring marks. We will continue this celebration as each attempt gets bigger and bigger. In a family affected by such precious special needs, sometimes it is the big attempt that is remembered far longer than the actual accomplishment. So as each new red mark comes home...we will celebrate all of Brady's big attempts.