Saturday, February 15, 2014

The hole in the bubble wrap


After years of raising a daughter with special needs, I've learned to tune a lot out. I surround us in a community of "bubble wrap" that holds and keeps us safe from the evils and injustices of the outside world. The world I've been so privileged to live in accepts Little Miss M for everything she is and embraces how spectacular that is. The continuous bouncing is seen as exuberance for life. The seemingly non-stop relation to everything princess or similar cartoon character is seen as adorable and passionate. The world inside the "bubble wrap" is comfortable and safe for both Little Miss M and me. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone, and it can hurt.

Little Miss M participates in a children's theater class on the weekends through the rather prestigious university in the next city.  The class is run by college students and filled with children from neighboring towns in third through fifth grade. We started allowing Little Miss M to go last year, and after leaving multiple phone numbers and meeting the teachers, I felt comfortable enough to go sit at Starbucks down the street while she managed class. Little Miss M has always been accepted and taken care of by the class leaders. I almost felt like this class existed inside our bubble.

Today was different. Today, I brought her to the first day of this semester's theater class and I had to stay for a majority of the class. Little Miss M had been sick all week and was looking quite tired today. She was so excited and terrified at the same time. She spent the beginning of class curled up in my lap. She actually told me she was scared and nervous. I told her it was really okay to feel that way, but that she was safe and I'd stay as long as she needed. As class actually began, she joined in, and her love of life and all things theatrical clearly showed. She was excited, she was bouncing, she was thinking so much faster then she could get the words out.

I sat back and watched. I called her over at one point to remind her to try and be still and to let other people talk too. Nothing changed. She wasn't being bad. She was just trying to control all the excitement she was feeling and properly participate in the class. She was bouncing, shifting leg to leg, and walking into those around her. She was the child whose hand was perpetually in the air and who volunteered for everything. Little Miss M was embracing today's class as she does everything in life - with a huge smile and a "can do" attitude. So, what was the problem?

I think it was me. I couldn't stay inside the "bubble wrap". I felt the stares, I heard the whispers and they poked a hole in our protective shell. I tried to retreat into my phone, into Facebook and Frozen Free Fall. I tried. I failed. I couldn't patch the little hole the new acquaintances had unknowingly poked in my world. I think some days I am just so comfortable and accepting of who my daughter is and what she has to give, that I don't care about what the rest of the world says. Then there are days like today, where reality is far too sharp and painful.

Thankfully, those days where I cannot patch the "bubble wrap" by myself, I can come home and my wonderful family and friends start to help mend the hole and in all honestly, Little Miss M's smile does a lot of mending all on its own. I know that it's not important how the rest of the world sees my girl, because she is fabulous and wonderful and her quirkiness is incredibly charming to me. However, I am not so naive to think the rest of the world will feel like me. I also know there will be plenty of days like today, where the problem is mine and not hers, where I can't tune out the rest of the world. I choose to wrap us in "bubble wrap" and roll around in the sheer beauty of our truth all the while hoping that the poked holes are few and far between.

Have you had a hole poked in your "bubble wrap"? Share with us in the comments section.

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Amanda wishes she had real rolls of bubble wrap that were big enough to wrap you up because that would be an incredible sensory experience. 

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