It's not often D12 looks me in the eye. Especially if he feels like I'm all in his business. It's a tricky thing to start a casual conversation about his day or what he's doing without him immediately feeling like he is under attack or in trouble or about to lose the privilege of doing whatever it is he is doing at that moment.
Often he ignores me because he doesn't want to be pulled out of the world he is currently occupying somewhere deep inside his mind.
So on this random summer day when he popped up over the edge of the pool and grinned at me I grabbed the phone. We spent a good five minutes taking a bunch of photos just like this one.
He would sink under the water, then pop up, his face lit up with glee. Lit up with joy.
We had a rare moment connecting verbally and visually. We had a moment of communication without anxiety on either side. Without one of us feeling like there was a wall between us.
The more I open my mind and heart to his autism the more I see the anxiety and challenges he has lived with for years. He's not just a quirky kid doing his own thing. Even though he is a quirky kid doing his own thing. Often it's more than that, it's a struggle, it's hard, it hurts and it confuses.
This moment from this summer is a wonderful, precious promise of more to come. Of pathways that will open up as we continue on this journey together. He still holds my hand, every once in a while. He still hugs me. We still connect.