This laughter is one that is limited in its release but today, today there are no limitations to it because today, they do not have autism - today they are just children enjoying a day at the beach with friends and trying something new - surfing!
Yes, my children went surfing!!
I was given the opportunity to have my children attend a surfing session hosted by Lance Carroll Therapy Surfing and Butterfly Effects. This was their first time attempting something like this.
My mind was in a blur and my heart was racing.
I was nervous. I was excited. I was everything all rolled into one.
The boards were all lined up, the families were all gathering together and talking about their past experiences with Surfers for Autism who introduced us to this autism-surfing-whisperer Lance Carroll.
Princess turned to me telling me that she didn't trust anyone with Silly. That she was scared.
The other children looked at the water with hesitation and worry.
Silly went running for the water oblivious to the reason why we were there.
Monkey started crying that he didn't want to surf as I strapped him into his life jacket.
This triggered tears and cries from Baby Girl repeating the same thing.
One of the moms who we know came to us and told them it was all going to be okay. That they did not have to worry, they did not have to do it if they did not want to. Then she whispered to me "They will do it, just give them time. Relax and enjoy it all."
She was right.
As the other participants started to take to the waves, I heard "when can we go?"
First it was Bug and as Princess saw him approach the water, she tightened her grip on Silly's hand, looked at me, and I told her it was going to be okay.
Her eyes opened and a smile started to curve. I hear Buddy scream "Look its Bug!"
As he approaches the shore with the largest smile on his face and a "Look mom!" on his voice - the instructor approached her and Silly. I let him guide Silly to one of the other instructors and he approached her - with the worried look on her face - and told her - "Do you want to try?" She shakes her head no and I tell her - "Go with Lance - he's the best there is! You can trust him - see?" and I pointed to her brothers who were taking to the water like naturals.
He extended his hand to her and she took it and followed him into the water.
Wave after wave. Board after board. My kids entered the water with nerves and came out with excitement and the urge to go back for more.
Between Buddy's "I'm surfing!" to Baby Girl's "Again! Again!" the day was perfect.
One child was running away from the boards, no matter how many people tried to talk to him and show him that it was okay. Monkey preferred to keep his feet firmly buried in the sand. In came the whisperer to try and talk with him. All I could hear my son say is "I don't want to surf!" They compromised for a walk on the board over the sand to sit on the shore. Lance looked back at me and promised he would get him in the water.
More children surfed and I heard from another mom tell me in passing that Bug told her "This is the best mommy day ever!"
Tears filled my eyes and the other moms hugged me because they had been where I was before. They had witnessed the same miracles with their children.
There was still one who was hesitant. As we ran in the sand and played in the water he kept looking over his shoulders.
He was watching the children play and laugh and scream. His siblings interacting with other children and laughing about the fun they were having.
Silly pulling me into the water and trying to push me to the boards so he could ride "More!"
Monkey was approached by one of the instructors and asked "Want to go?" He looked at me. He looked at him. He looked at the water. And shook his head - nervously - yes.
I clasped my hands together and waited with held breath and then...
He got on a board - and rode the wave all the way back to me.
The smile and laughter that came from his little body was purely amazing, a miracle!
The waterworks started and I couldn't stop.
He was so excited and said he wanted to go back and try it again. But he wanted to go back with Lance. He wanted to show him that he could do it.
Talk about connection! This was another miracle in and of itself!
He caught up with Lance and I heard "Let's DO this!" with a tiny fist bump in the air and they went towards the water...
My babies were doing something new.
They were coming out of their shells.
They were being children - laughing and playing with no care in the world.
They were not being judged or stared at.
They were one of the group - there was no different or strange - they were just children. Playing with children.
I did not have to worry about where my children were or what they were doing. They were having fun and interacting with people around them.
My children were conquering fears and most of all - loving every minute of it!!
From the emails that I have received from their teachers - they have not stopped talking about their experiences and the teachers are even using them (with provided photos) to spark conversations and interactions.
This experience is benefiting them in so many ways and I could never express my gratitude and appreciation for those who made this day possible.
It was a magical day and I can't wait to do it all over again!
Soon - hopefully soon!