I had two bad Sundays in a row. Days when I had to talk myself out of crying. Days when I gripped the steering wheel and forced myself to think of all the good and positive things that we have going for us. On both of these days we went for long bike rides and that helped. I see Oliver holding his body straight as his strong legs pump and the bike sways from side to side beneath him. I watch as he languidly coasts on straightaways, steering his bike so precisely this way and that. I see him aware of and reacting to all the potential dangers in his environment. And I see the look of joy and competence on his face. He is capable, more so than I dared to hope a few short years ago.
But on each of these Sundays I also have had to witness Oliver struggle with even the simplest of social interactions. I see him unable to stay sitting through the circle-time song in the Sunday School classroom where I have brought the two boys and then crying out for the box of Legos that he has spied on the shelf. I see the other kids looking at Oliver as he vocally comforts himself, also seeing when I have to leave the room with him. I see them appraising him and thinking to themselves: there is something wrong with that boy. Later, during the closing prayer -- after hours and hours of elapsed time which only read as 30 minutes on the clock -- as I stand close to Oliver, quietly urging him to stay with the others, the girl next to him refuses to hold his hand. "That's OK," I tell her, "I'll hold his hand." And it is OK, I remind myself, he will learn and she will learn. And I have to believe it to be true because as I say goodbye to the Sunday school teacher and her husband I tell them: "See you next week!" in what I hope is a cheery tone. And she must believe me because she hands me a piece of paper with her phone number written on it and says "Call me. Let's talk about what we can do to make this a good experience for Oliver." I have my doubts. Lots and lots of doubt. But I will call her. And I will try.
And I grip the steering wheel all the way home.