I just finished reading an amazing book called Fearless Nest: Our Children As Our Greatest Teachers. So many of the beautiful stories in the collection resonated with me. And one thing the book really has going for it is that my friend Carrie is one of the contributors! In addition to that, it got me thinking about what I have learned from my children. What I’ve learned from Aidan deserves a post of its own, but for today, I’ll write about what I’ve learned from Nigel.
It’s the power of belief.
But I’m not just talking about the belief I have in his potential, or that he would learn to talk, that he could be mainstreamed in school, that he would learn to regulate his behavior. All of that involved a tremendous amount of belief, and, for that matter, it still does. Because I truly believe, in spite of all his challenges both past and present, that he will be able to navigate adulthood with some degree of independence. Most of all, I believe he will find people who will appreciate him, and he will have friends and be happy. Even if his connections aren’t typical, I believe this with all my heart.
And I believe that he will follow his dreams in adulthood, because he already does. Since his early years he has been a huge Disney fan. He loves the characters so much that he thinks of them as friends. In fact, his stuffed Tigger prompted him to speak one of his first words and start showing some imaginative play. These days, he owns almost all of the Disney movies, animated and live-action, the older ones as well as the newer ones with Pixar, and he rotates watching them. These movies have taught him how to talk, how to interact with people, and how to tell a story, among many other skills. But mostly, they comfort and entertain him. They are a big part of his life and he loves them.
For a few years now, he has talked about a movie idea he has that combines all of his favorite animated Disney characters. I’m not clear on the plot details, but it involves him becoming an animated character and going into their world (a la Roger Rabbit, I suppose) to help save them from a new Disney villain, worse than all the Disney villains combined. A few weeks ago, he wrote a letter to the Disney Corporation outlining the plot and asking if they would be interested in his story idea for a future film. He typed it on his computer, printed it out, folded it up, put it in a #10 envelope, and addressed it by hand, which is no small feat with his dysgraphia. He sealed the envelope and came to ask me for a stamp. I mailed it the next day, not knowing what he had written, but hoping that it was coherent enough for them to at least send him a form letter thanking him for his interest. I told him that the Disney Corporation probably receives hundreds of pieces of mail daily and that it might take several weeks before he received a reply, if any. I tried to let him down easy, gently prepare him for disappointment.
But he believed.
My boy believed so strongly that he would receive a reply within two weeks. After the first week, he said to me, “It’s been a week now. My response from Disney should be arriving soon. Let me know when it comes in the mail, okay?” And I again reminded him that Disney may not be able to answer every letter they receive, etc. Still he believed. And I suppose I should not have been at all surprised when, on day eleven, a letter arrived from the Disney Corporation addressed to my son. He was shaking as he opened it, saying, “I knew they would reply!” And they did, within the timeframe that he believed they would. It was such a generous response – not a form letter at all. The kind soul who had opened my son’s letter had taken the time to write a personal response. She told him that they would probably be interested in his idea (he loved that part!), but diplomatically – gently – explained that due to legal restrictions, they could not pursue it. And Nigel handled it very well. He said that he understood and was okay with it. He got his response, addressed to him on Disney letterhead, and that was enough for now. His belief came to fruition.
And what do I believe? As we go forward with our out-of-state moving plans, I find myself faced with several huge unknowns, especially now that Nigel won’t be attending the special school we’d hoped for, at least not for a while. I don’t know where the boys will go to school. I don’t know when my house will sell. I don’t know where we’ll be living. I don’t know what job I’ll have. There is so much I don’t know. But Nigel has taught me to believe. And I believe that everything will work out as it should. I believe that all of our needs will be met. I believe that all that I seek is seeking me. I believe that all will be well. And that is enough for now.