I'd like to live in The Land of Empathy and Wonder.
I'd like to live in a land where my son Tucker is one of many and the many have a variety of differences. None of those differences are considered afflictions, disabilities, special needs or delays. In this land, everybody's quirks and uniquenesses and differences are celebrated. They're not noticed because they are not important.
The only thing important in my imagined land is a person's heart. And his empathy. And his ability to find wonder.
To find joy in blowing bubbles on a breezy spring day rather than worrying about a job, a disease, a bill, a blog...
A place where every resident is able to abandon her phone to follow her son on his quest to best imitate a butterfly. To experience wonder. To celebrate it.
I'd like for you to accept my son.
I'd like to live in a land where skin color matters as much as the color of a person's underpants. Where couples that fall in love ARE a family without having to lobby for the right to be legally recognized as one by a government. Where a person's actions toward others is noticed and the cost of her handbag is not.
I'd like to live in a world where I can take my son to the playground and the fact that he's playing amazingly well with an unknown younger friend is what's noticed rather than the fact that his new friend is miles above him in language. In knowing how to play. In, well, everything.
I'd like for all of us, including yours truly, to simply "aaaahhh" at the joy on two boy's faces bonding over finding an abandoned ball.
To be. Ahh... can you imagine?
I see that joy and wonder in my little boy's face every single day. He sees magic.
I want to get back to seeing the magic.
This land of mine would allow me to see my son's recent school photo and not analyze it. It would allow me to remain in the belly-laugh moment my husband and I shared when we first saw it and thought, "Oh my... he looks so mischievous! So grown up! And so funny!"
Instead, I returned to it later and wondered whether his photo looks like autism. Whether Tucker's beautiful eyes all squinted up as if he's hiding something meant instead that he was at his "I need a break" point. That he may have been scared or intimidated or overwhelmed and didn't have the words to say so.
I'd like to live in the land where empathy and wonder rule.
Where our differences don't.
The best part? This land exists.
It exists right now in some of you, if only ideally. We, my friends, have the power to transform our worlds, our ideal places and our homes into The Land of Empathy and Wonder.
It starts with you. With me. With our children. With how we choose to spend the next five minutes. With being able, tomorrow, when we're stressed out and overwhelmed and busy and annoyed, to be able to take a moment to NOT look away. To try and make eye contact with the boy who makes you uncomfortable. To say hi. To give his tired mom a smile.
To give her a smile that conveys the message that we're all in this together.
And that there is empathy and wonder. Everywhere.