My long-haired boys, Griffin, 8, and Gage, 6.
There is a national arts contest sponsored by the PTA. I try to get my kids to enter every year, but am not always successful. Last year, Gage’s colorful selfie won first in his division for Nevada. Griffin didn’t want to enter.
This year, they both entered — Gage in art this time, and Griffin in literature. The theme was “Believe, Dream, Inspire.” I asked Gage what he dreamed of being, and he said “a pilot”. Gage drew a picture about it, and won his division for his school and an award at the state level (the awards ceremony where we find out is April 5th.) Griffin won his division at their school, too, and something at state, though again, we don’t know what yet. We are very proud, of course.
But even if neither if them had won, we still would be incredibly proud of them. Gage, because fine motor is so hard for him, and he didn’t even pick up a crayon or pencil without tremendous coaxing until 2 years ago. let alone draw any identifiable picture. Griffin, because even though his entry was an essay, really, it was a picture of his giant heart.
I sat down with him to talk about who he might write about: What does he dream or believe in? Who inspires him– Nelson Mandela? Martin Luther King, Jr.?, Frank Ghery? (Griffin does love his architecture), but no, he didn’t want to write about any of these people.
“I want to write about Gage, mom. He inspires me the most.” Griffin is 8 years old. Here is what he wrote:
“I believe in my brother Gage.”
There is someone who inspires me. There is someone I believe in. There is someone I have dreams for. It is my brother, Gage.
Gage is 6. He is in first grade. He is blonde like me. He loves to smile. He loves swimming. He loves computers, too. He is a great brother. He is also autistic.
Autism is difference in the way your brain works. It is hard for people with autism to communicate and have eye contact. There is nothing wrong with autistic people, they just donʼt act the way we expect them to, sometimes. Gage is very smart but he needs lots of help to show how smart he is.
Gage inspires me to work harder in school because he works so hard to do things the way he is supposed to. Things that are easy for other kids, like putting on a backpack, are hard for Gage. It took him 3 months to learn to put a backpack on by himself. His mind wasnʼt letting him do it. He practiced every day until he finally did it! He has 3 extra hours of school every day and homework, too. He also has school on the weekends, just to learn the things that come naturally to other kids. He practices things over and over until he gets them right.
I believe in Gage because he shows me that with hard work you can reach your goals. For example, Gage had a very hard time trying to talk. He didnʼt talk until he was about 4. He has had hundreds of hours of speech therapy. Now, he is 6 and he can talk to us. I feel great about that. I believe that he will be able to talk as much as I can one day, because he works so hard. Gage is in 1st grade at my school. He is in a regular class with a helper. I love when I see him in the hallway and I always give him a hug. I feel proud that he goes to my school, because I know how hard it is for him. Iʼm so happy for him, he even made the honor roll. After seeing him at school, I believe that my brother can get a good education and go to college. I will do everything I can to help him get there because I believe in him.
I dream that my brother will one day have a wife and kids, a job that he loves, and a house, and it wonʼt matter at all that he is autistic. I dream that he will be able to travel if he wants to, to see places like Paris, Sydney and Tokyo. I dream that he will be able to do whatever he wants to do, and that I will get to do these things with him. I dream that people will accept him for who he is.
I am inspired by Gageʼs hard work. I dream that he will succeed in whatever he chooses to do. I believe in my brother Gage.
I don’t know if I am worthy of being the mom of these kids. But I’ll sure try.