Sunday, September 13, 2015

Autism Answer: Friday Night Lights

Author's Note: I wrote this Saturday morning as a status update on my Facebook page. As I mention on my comments page, my blog posts mostly begin there, where I encourage questions or comments that help me tweak it, and then I bring the post here. So, ya, it's a Friday night story, written on a Saturday, posted here on a Sunday. But, who's keeping score? tee hee!
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I stood alone leaning on the fence, watching last night's football game. It was a home game and our team was winning. 

Behind me several tweens ran around flirting and playfully threatening to post videos of each other online. It was cute, but I also recognized the very real on edge feeling of that age. They were all doing a dance, wanting to stand out but knowing the danger of missing a step or tripping over themselves entirely, and so the underlying tension was visceral to me. 

My seventeen year old son, who no longer attends this high school because the social aspect was too visceral for him, stood on the bleachers, chatting with old friends and buying them snacks. "You shouldn't be buying friends." I mentioned good naturedly at one point. "I'm not buying friends," he explained. "I'm buying friendship." Aaahhhh, I see! We had a laugh and he headed back to his happily munching on nachos group of friendships

Then it was time for the performance I had come for. The whole reason I had happily forked out money to get into a game I don't particularly enjoy or understand. The Marching Band Halftime Show!!

I could rarely pick my youngest son out, there were a few other trumpet players and they do move around, but I could dance to the sounds in celebration of him where I stood alone by the fence. 

And, I did!

As the band filed off the field and walked right past me (because I had purposely picked the spot by the fence where they would file past) my son saw me and lit up with joy! He was as happy to see me as I was to see him!! He leaned over the fence, wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me a huge smooch on the cheek! 

Then he ran to my side of the fence and offered to snap this picture with me. I didn't ask, he offered!! 
My youngest son and me at the game Friday night.

Soon he was back with the band and I stood smiling to myself by the fence. Alone and beaming with joy. As our team continued to play a good game, I peeked over at my boys as they lit up the night, scoring points in my heart. Figuring out friendships and playing music with their own personal flair.

Soon a young girl, about eleven years old, with her face painted colorfully and her energy bouncing off the stars, asked me kindly if I would watch her phone for her. She had some cartwheels and other showing off to do. Her friends talked conspiratorially about people who weren't there, the boys said swear words and talked rudely about each other, but they all smiled at me and thanked me for watching the stuff. They seemed uninterested or unaware that I could hear them while simultaneously grateful that I was willing to help them out. This is growing up. So full of our own issues and worries and hopes that it's hard to see outside of it, until we are motivated by a need. And then most of us can take a moment to feel and offer gratitude. A short, important, moment. 

We won the game and I gathered my boys. We laughed and sang as we walked to the car. While climbing into the front seat my seventeen year old son said, "That was really great, mom. I got to see my friends. It was good I could buy them a snack because it gave me something to say and do. It helped me get comfortable quicker. That was much better than just doing my weird habits for attention and then when they ask me to stop being weird I don't know how." 

And then as we started to merge our way out of the busy parking lot, surrounded by so many other late night game goers, my youngest son asked me, "Did you have fun? What was your favorite part of the night?"

I looked at him in the rear-view and considered my answer. He interrupted. "I know, I know. Your favorite part was when I was so happy to see you and gave you a hug."

He sort of rolled his eyes, but he was also smiling. 

My Friday Night Lights are those moments. 
These kids. These memories. 

We all won our game last night!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)