What a nice way to spend a lazy Sunday, going to and from a really tough puzzle, and loving that feeling of satisfaction when it's finally done. Then leaving it on the table to be admired, at least for a little bit.
Now that I'm an autism mom, puzzles don't really do it for me. I find that I just don't have the patience anymore - my patience is otherwise used up on my kids.
Which brings me to that dang puzzle piece symbol for autism.
It never really bothered me before, until I really started thinking about it.
One autism organization uses the puzzle piece symbol for autism awareness, with the tag line "Until all the pieces fit." Well, tag line creators, I've got some news for you....
Those pieces? They will never all fit. That dang puzzle will never be completed. You never get that feeling of satisfaction upon completion.
Now before you all get riled up in an uproar, hear me out.
Parenting, no matter if you parent a neurotypical kid (us folks in the biz call those "normal" kids "NT kids". It's much better than "normal", don't you think? That way, there is no "not normal" on the other side. But I digress.) or a kid like my TJ who has autism, is a journey. There is no ending.
"Until all the pieces fit" contains the hope that eventually, all those pieces, even the toughest ones, will fit into a nice neat puzzle that you can stand back and admire.
For us, just as soon as we have figured out one tricky part of the puzzle, another one pops up. Or maybe a year after we thought we had solved a problem, it re-presents itself in a new form, maybe a little distorted from its original presentation, but needs to be addressed all over again.
Parenting, no matter what kind of brain your kiddo has, is fluid.
Wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't? Can you imagine, finally finding how that last little bugger of a puzzle piece fits into the whole picture, and you have laid before you a beautiful portrait that you have been waiting to see in its completion?
Yeah - not gonna happen.
Please don't get me wrong - there are plenty of amazing moments in parenting. Moments of celebrating successes, solving problems, connecting to your child's journey and life in a real and meaningful way. Joys. Sorrows. Ups and downs.
Instead of that puzzle piece, I like to picture something more like one of those desktop wave machines. Rocking back and forth, beautiful blues and greens, ebbing and flowing. And always in motion.
Without an end.
So in theory, that puzzle piece works for many, I get it. And I'm all for ANYTHING that increases autism awareness and acceptance in the world.
But for me, for my family, for my boys with very different brains and very different ways of living in this world, give me a wave machine any day.