It was a typical weekday night and as usual, David and I were struggling to get through his Math homework. Lucky for us, this lesson was fairly easy, and with several piles of Smarties lined up, he was able to get through basic single-digit multiplication and understand how three piles of three equals three times three which equals nine and not six because it's "times" and not "plusses". Once that fact took tenative root, it was repetition, repetition, repetition.
That night, as I tucked him into bed, we had our usual ritual of me asking him about his day. I do this partly because I really want to know, and partly because it engages him in conversation - something a child with autism doesn't do easily by nature and David needs all the practice he can get. So I started with the usual questions: What was your special today (a "special" is something done on a rotational cycle - things like art, PE, music and library)? What did you do at recess? Did you read any books in class today? What were they about? And then finally, I decided to ask:
"What was your favorite thing today?"
He thought for only a moment, and then said "Math."
"Math? Really?" I raised my eyebrows, sure he was only telling me what I wanted to hear. David hates math homework, this year more than ever. It's a cause of constant frustration and a real pain to get through.
"Yeah," he said, "'Cause I was learning."
My son likes learning. Guess I'm doing something right. I smiled and said "You're right. Learning is a good thing, isn't it?"
He nodded vigorously. "And I did the math and I was proud of me."
I was proud of me.
That would definitely make for a high point in a day. How many times in a day, a week, a month can I honestly say "I was proud of me." Certainly not often enough. And he nailed it that day over, of all things, math.
"I'm proud of you, too, Bubby. Always." I kissed him, pulled up his covers, and kissed him again just because.
And I promised myself, I'd find some way to be proud of me.
Then I realized, my son makes me proud of me with every struggle he overcomes, because we're in this together.