Broken snow globes, autism and other blessings.

by Jennifer Dyer

A few days ago, my parents came home from a trip bearing gifts for the grandkids. As we walked into Grandma’s room with the loot spread on a bed, Rachel knew which ones were for her. Rachel clutched a Dora ornament to her chest, a grin on her face. She even said, “Dohduh,” her way of saying Dora. 

My mom wasn’t finished, though. She pulled out a lovely red box and handed Rachel the bubble-wrapped treasure inside.

Rachel squealed when she saw the snow globe, filled with shiny glitter swirling around a polar bear. Rachel shook it and cooed while the glitter moved and sparkled.

She was so happy, in fact, I could’t bear to take the toys away from her to put them in the car. Besides, what could happen? Why not let her carry her treasure? We headed back to the car, Rachel bouncing along the grass.

But…as she opened the van door, it clipped the snow globe, which smashed to the concrete driveway. Rachel snatched it up and dove into the car. She didn’t want me to see, didn’t want anyone to know something had happened to her new toy.

My heart cracked and bled along with that leaky snow globe, right there on my parents’ driveway. What kind of mom was I, letting her carry it outside? Was I stupid? And now I had to do something worse and take it away because the driveway had spots of sparkly water on it, so that meant the rest would leak in the car.

I inspected it, convinced I could superglue it back together. But some messes are beyond repair. Rachel watched as I handed to globe back to Grandma. Mumbling, Rachel hid behind a towel in the back of the car.

I wanted to scream. It wasn’t fair! Seriously?! She got to enjoy her present for 10 seconds and then it was gone! Isn’t that a perfect metaphor for her life sometimes? Situations that look shiny and sparkly for other people often turn out cracked and full of leaks for us. So many things challenge my sweet Rachel: communicating, dressing, eating, running…

But I took a deep breath and looked at Rachel in the backseat. Me freaking out would only add to her stress. She would think she had done something wrong. I smiled. “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

I know Rachel remembers that snow globe, but she can’t talk about it except to point to it in pictures. But the amazing thing is she’s not still upset about it. And that’s how she is about so many things in life. Even when I want to crawl under the bed and hide from the world, she keeps going. It’s like no one told her she has reason to think life isn’t fair. She doesn’t whine and complain and compare herself to others.

She lives, loves and laughs.

Sometimes I think I am here to help Rachel. But most of the time I figure it’s the other way around.

Read More