I posted the following over at Hopeful Parents today. Please be sure to check out this great community...and become a fan on facebook too!
I recently took up a new hobby and as odd as it sounds, I find it just about as fulfilling as any other hobby I've test driven through the years. It perfectly fits where I am in life and my need for something calming. The best part about it is that it is fulfilling both with and without my family, and is one of the very few activities we can count on M being okay with us doing together as a family.
We are fortunate to live in a beautiful, coastal town. Less than a mile from our home is the biggest sensory-happy sandbox a little guy like M could ever ask for. So instead of worrying about whether or not we'll be bothering other people at a movie theater or having to cut short a visit to a local museum, we can safely and happily load up a blanket and a bucket and head to the beach for hours.
M is quite happy plopping down as soon as he gets to the sand, leaving me to comb the beach for gems that-before the sea churns them about for years, decades, or if you're lucky, a century-were simply considered littered pieces of glass.
I was fortunate to have 90 minutes of solace to myself last week when I went sea glass hunting all.by.myself. It was heaven!
As I tuned out the rest of the world and focused on the sand, I thought of how much symbolism there is in this new hobby I have chosen. It sounds perfectly cheesy; sort of like those posters you can by at Michael's that say 'Everything I needed to learn I learned in Kindergarten.' But they're there, and they fit with the new normal I am living as a parent of a child with severe special needs.
So without further ado, may I present to you "Everything I need to know about parenting a child with autism I learned from sea glass hunting:"
1. Often the best glass can be found after a tumultuous storm at sea.
2. Sometimes you can't see the best piece of glass even when it's right in front of you.
3. Even though your eyes tell you that you aren't actually looking at a piece of sea glass, sometimes your brain won't believe it until you walk over to it, touch it, see it closely.
4. The biggest pieces of sea glass are found in the most remote beaches where others don't dare to walk.
5. You can rarely find sea glass until the tides are low.
6. When you find that rare piece in red or cobalt blue, it makes you want to keep looking all that much more.
7. Even the seemingly smallest pieces of sea glass can be made into something beautiful.
8. Not everyone understands why you would want to spend so much time searching for something they don't see value in.
9. Those that do get it are wonderfully special friends.
10. Sea glass hunting does not require any words.