The Joy of Children & The Sadness of Asperger’s

Well, what a time it has been these past several days, a real mixed bag.  The fantastic interaction and wonderful responses with/from everyone in the aftermath of an award nomination had me quite giddy there for a time!  Back to earth with a bump but isn’t it amazing how even when things seem to be going completely pear-shaped all around you something completely lovely and totally out of the blue can come along and completely knock your socks off (in a good way) and blow the gloom away? Love it when that happens.

I say this because just as all this joy and excitement swirled about me, my daughter, who is 20 and has Asperger’s Syndrome, was not doing well. It is not of any benefit to go into details here (and she certainly would not want me to) but suffice it to say it has been one helluva time.  She hardly ate for 2 days and didn’t leave her bed.  It was as if she was fading away, my darling girl, trapped as she was in a very dark place and I was deeply pained to see her so distraught.

We had to pick up some medication for her at our local chemist on a busy Saturday afternoon in town and I had a couple of questions about it. Then, out of the bleakest moments, the slightest word of kindness from someone, a complete stranger, someone who knows nothing of you or of your situation, can shine just a tiny dot of light into the black.

The lady serving me was so unbelievably warm and helpful (perhaps somebody had whispered to her, perhaps I looked troubled) that I wanted to jump across the counter, plant a kiss on her cheek, and call her Auntie. She couldn’t do enough for me.

Thank you kind lady whoever you are.

Isn’t it so refreshing to be treated like this?  So different to the other day when I went to our local discount store when I purchased a large amount (as in an over-flowing basket load) of  bulky household items  – think a mind-boggling array of cleaners and the like. There they all were, piled up at the end of the conveyor belt. After paying for the goods  I was asked by the checkout girl, “Do you want a bag?”  No, it’s alright dear, I’ll just balance everything on my head whilst I hike the 10 miles back up the high street to my car. I’m sure I’ll manage just fine.

I digress.

Children are very much on my mind at the moment ever since we went to a medieval banquet in London last weekend (great fun by the way!).  A very large group of boys and girls of about 8 or 9 years old were taking up several tressel tables at the back of the room and getting thoroughly into the spirit of things, taking great delight in thumping their small fists on the table whenever King Henry VIII sang or honoured them with his presence by walking past their tables. The unrestrained looks of joy on their faces were clearly asking the question: “How often are we allowed to do this and get away with it!”

Towards the end of the evening we were all encouraged to get up and dance.  By this time, our serving ‘wenches’ had ensured that we had all enjoyed quite a bit of ale and wine –  not the children of course!  One minute we were doing a spot of that old country dancing, feeling positively queenly and kingly dressed up in our medieval outfits, all holding hands as we skipped to and fro in circles to something very similar to ‘Greensleeves’ when suddenly the ‘medieval’ music stopped and broke out into the strains of that all time classic, ‘I’m a Believer’ by The Monkees.

It was like a scene straight out of Shrek.  I half expected to see the Gingerbread Man turn up at any minute with the Three Little Pigs and a moonwalking donkey.   The kids went crazy.  Some were attempting to break dance on their heads, others were ‘dancing’ but it was more like pretend fighting with pretend swords and even some not-too-shabby Tae Kwon Do moves.  Some of those kids though could do some pretty mean twisting and shaking let me tell you! They were having a ball.

I wanted to be them, with them, fooling around like them, just to be able for those few precious moments to be completely free and utterly unchained,  to be part of their gang.

Oh dear children, enjoy the days of your youth.  Oh dear daughter of mine, my hope and prayer for you is that you will be able to achieve this and know times of unbridled joy and happiness.

Their total carefree abandon and exuberance reminded me so much of when my children were young.  My boys were always play fighting in the way that all young things do, rolling about the floor locked in numerous wrestling moves.

The only problem was that my younger son wore glasses. This is how it would go:  I would tell the kids calmly (ok, sometimes it would be more like a yell) to remove the glasses first. Yet, despite this, and it was always the same, after a sustained period of very noisy and boisterous rough housing things would suddenly go very quite.  This would be followed by whispers of, “Shhhh, don’t tell Mum”.  This, of course, always meant that the glasses had been broken. Again.

So this meant yet another trip to our friendly optician.  They knew us so well that every time they saw us coming they would order in food and get out the best china.    “Now, let’s see, hmmm, looks like we will have to order another pair of glasses.  Something a bit stronger.  Will titanium do?”   Cha ching.

Oh I miss those days, I really do.  What seemed like such a disaster at the time is now part of family lore and which I now share here with you.  All just part of life’s rich pattern.  My son has worn contacts now for many years but my boys still like to give each other one or two friendly little punches here and there – think it’s a sort of deep-held primitive greeting.

 With Easter coming up fast I remember how I would make a new dress every Easter for my daughter.  I wish I could make her a new dress now, a new anything, to clothe her in brightness and colour to cover up the loneliness and isolation which so cruelly defines Asperger’s Syndrome.

But for now, in case you were wondering, we have won through and my daughter is doing much better again, thank goodness. Things are calm for now and I take a deep breath.

So I get up and I dance, once again.

“It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” Dickens

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri is a writer with work published in print magazines, anthologies and online. As a young British mum of three, she emigrated to California and stayed for twenty years. Today she lives in England's West Country, a full-time carer within her family. Her current WIP after completing her memoir is a psychological thriller.
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8 Responses to The Joy of Children & The Sadness of Asperger’s

  1. I loved your well-written post and I loved your quote at the end. Your writing shares so much heart-felt emotion with your readers. Have a Happy Easter, Sherri, with you and yours.


  2. Ahh my dear friend, not only is life a rich pattern but so is this blog. I went from tears to laughter and back again. HUGS!!!!! xo dee


    • sherrimatt says:

      So lovely to think of this blog as being a rich pattern, what a lovely way to put it! Or perhaps like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get! Just like life! Not been the easiest of times as you well know but we win through. Thank you dear friend 🙂 xxx


  3. risingwoman says:

    Dance, dance, dance!!

    Lovely post, Sherri – and I’m so glad to hear that your daughter is doing better.

    Have a wonderful Easter.


  4. Tish says:

    I really love your writing Sherri, you make me proud to be your friend!


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