Trains, planes and automobiles: my version of lions, tigers and bears –oh my! Some of my most challenging experiences with my special needs child were when he was young and I had to cart him along on a two-hour airplane trip or even a 15-minute bus ride. Sitting quietly and watching the landscape go by just wasn’t his cup of tea; he had to move. And when he couldn’t move, he let you and everyone else know it. Our worst trip ever started out nicely enough on a scenic train ride from Williams, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon. Patches of snow, foreign and exotic to my Southern California kid, dotted the terrain. For the first 10 minutes, his breath fogged the window. But soon he had to walk the aisles, and as he did, he swayed along with the vintage car, his smile growing larger with every banshee scream of the wheels. When we reached the canyon, a relative herded us onto a sightseeing bus trip of the canyon’s rim, despite a nagging inner voice that warned me not to push our son. The bus was cramped; the seats small. He had no clear aisle to walk along. He whined and climbed the seats. In no time at all, he screamed. Halfway through the ride, a young couple left the bus, but not before taking a loud and public parting shot at me and my “bratty kid.”
I don’t always know what to say to people who don’t understand what it’s like to have children like ours. I once made a habit of flinging my son’s diagnosis like a weapon at the people who, with their judgments, angered me. But flinging a diagnosis like a knife and hoping it hurts isn’t helpful.
I bring up the subject of this nightmare trip because I didn’t listen to my inner voice advising of trouble before it began. Why is it that we don’t always listen to our intuition? Isn’t my intuition smarter than my head is ever going to be?
I trust my inner sense of how to best raise my special needs child. My inner sense is not the yapping, yapping, yapping of monkey mind as it screeches out its hates and the sins it sees surrounding us. Monkey mind is always accusing, raucous and pointing among the treetops. Instead, I let my mind sink down to the forest floor with its blanket of soft pine needles, like a fragrant cushion to absorb the sounds.
I drink in the silence and practice listening to my inner sense.