Bodhi is different. I see it sometimes as a flicker of recognition as it passes stranger’s faces, sometimes a look of delight, other times a look of confusion or shock – depending on the type of different he wears that day. Depending on if he has stopped someone on the street to tell them what a beautiful person they are or if he has spent the duration of a haircut rolling his eyes back and snarling like a velociraptor (bless the hairdresser for snarling along with him).
Suffice to say he has quirks, and they demand to be noticed. Sometimes his difference is subtle, it lingers in the background, like a ray of light on good says, or like a shadow on days when he got up on the wrong side of the bed.
Other times it seems all consuming, the hard days feel like they must always be like this, and on the good days the difference is so damn beautiful I wonder how I noticed anything else.
I used to tell myself he’d grow out of some of his difference, knowing full well that he was born with it, as much part of him as his gorgeous smile. Those would be the times I’d see him playing with kids and watch things just not click for him like they did for others, or be out with him and get the feeling that we were residing in entirely different worlds and mine didn’t make any more sense to him than his did to me. When he had no problem with huge concepts but the ABC song was all too impossible. But I told myself he’d grow out of it, because that made sense at the time.
Today was one of the shadow days. The days where a shopping trip was interrupted by a tearful cry of “Mum! Seba grabbed my tongue!” “How did he get your tongue?” “I was trying to see if I could shove his whole fist in my mouth and he grabbed it!!!” A day where a beautiful swim in a gorgeous pool was, in his world, somehow agonizingly difficult in some way or another. A day when at a crowded checkout, amidst a sea of feet and trolleys he decided to lay down on the floor and yell at anyone who came near him.
These are the days when I deep breathe a lot to keep my patience. Sometimes it still escapes me. Chocolate usually lures it back. And if I do feel my temper fraying as I remind him something for the 237th time that’s when he will squeeze my hand and tell me he loves me, then ask, as though it’s an obvious question, if I’m going to turn into a dragon anytime soon.
These are the days that it’s harder to stay in love with his difference, but they’re also the days he needs it more. Because his little world doesn’t have to make sense to me, it just has to matter – really matter.
It might be the same for someone in your life. You might have the adventure of someone different in your family, your friends or your work. Their version of different might not be the same as Bodhi’s… but they might still fill your week with their fair share of light and shadow days. They might fascinate and inspire you with their perspective, or madden you with their quirks. What’s that saying? “Blessed are the cracked, for they let the light in.” Their difference lets the light in, even in the times it drives you crazy. It challenges you, pushes you, makes you question.
My boys fell asleep in the car as I drove home today. Two angelic faces, eyes closed, free of worries and wonder, just at peace. And for the first time I let go of the notion that he’d grow out of his difference. He won’t. He’ll grow INTO it. And he’ll fill it in the most wonderful way.
He woke up bright and happy from that nap, rested and smiling, as if to confirm the peace I felt. He read books, practiced writing on his ipad, then came and grabbed my hand. “Lets play Lego” he said, “you can be the dragon.”