Asking Keyan to do something outside of his routine can be a big “ask”. Keyan likes routines and sticking to things he knows with predictable outcomes. It makes for a mundane life but one that makes him feel safe and in control. For us on the other hand, it makes us feel as though, as a family, we are missing out on experiences. When we work up the courage to expose Keyan to something new we walk into the situation expecting to fail. What is that old saying “prepare for the worst and hope for the best”.
During long breaks such as; Christmas, March break or Summer vacation, with more time to focus on family that’s when we like to take risks and try new things. I remember in March of 2018 we took Keyan to the local ice rink during free skate despite it being for a younger demographic. Having the four of us on the ice was victory!!! In fact, that experience gave me the tenacity to write my first blog post ever. Then last year during March break I decided it was time for Keyan to walk his dog alone. Up until then Kunal or I walked to the right, Bagou in the middle and Keyan on the left. Last year I got tired of the dog rubbing up against me with the hardware from her harness digging into my knee. So I thought what would happen if I let go? Well I let go and Keyan and Bagou now walk solo (with us not far behind).
March break 2020 is upon us now. Yesterday, with my insistence we brought Keyan to the grocery store. Despite him vocalizing discontent I decide to ignore him. Bad move. Within two minutes it all went left. Kunal had to take him out of the store and I escorted them to the door to ensure it didn’t escalate. Desperate to get the food required for our dinner I text my husband “if you need to take Keyan home to calm him down then go home and come back to get me”. His response “no all is good. He is calm now and making happy noises – take your time”. I sigh and proceed to fill up my cart.
When I return to the car we don’t speak of it because we know already that everyone is in a fragile state. One wrong word can potentially mean a fight and a whole day ruined. We can’t afford friction because in only a few short hours we have friends coming over for dinner. So we settle upon silence and move forward.
Today is a new day - yesterday is behind us. We have a full week to expose Keyan to things outside of his norm/the usual. I focus on building courage to not let a bad day determine every day. It is a beautiful day we acknowledge that we have to get out of the house. We make a quick stop at the store. I go inside while Kunal waits in the car with Keyan. Upon my return Kunal asks “what would you like to do now”? I say “bring Keyan somewhere for a hamburger”. Kunal hesitates thinking about yesterday and also not wanting to disappoint me says “okay let’s go Harvey’s”. It’s a plan. As we pull up to the restaurant we decide on our strategy. Kunal will order the food and I will bring Keyan to the washroom first and then find a table.
All the steps we take make Keyan feel safe. The three of us sit down to enjoy a full meal together. Keyan even decides to try an onion ring. The moment he attempts his first bite it’s too hot but minutes later he tries again and is extremely satisfied with the crunch. That is a sign of growth in Keyan - trying new things. He is happy – closing his eyes and humming while he eats. Kunal and I look at one another and without words we feel victorious. Most importantly as parents we are proud of ourselves for never giving up despite the fear of failure. Our hearts swell with pride, love and gratitude because this moment is everything!