Learning to Breathe

Editor’s note: Yes, it’s been quite some time since I’ve written. The day to day challenges left me “worded out” by the time the boys went to bed and I had a free moment to write. And, those same day to day moments have taught and are teaching me how to breathe.


Our children can be one of our biggest teachers. Wesley is definitely one of mine…

The day began at 6:30 a.m. It had been 4 wks of excitement that we were going to the Museum of Fine Arts to look at the Greek and Egyptian artifacts.  As most of our days begin, I rolled out of bed to an immediate intense conversation on one of Wesley’s interests/areas of hyperfocus. On this particular day, Wesley’s conversation began with Greek and Egyptian mythology, discussions of what phrases he could write using symbols obtained from a book, quizzing me on the various Gods/deities – what is Isis god of? Who is the god of the underworld? What weapon does Zeus use? Hermes is the god of what? – and so on and so forth. This excitement continued all morning, on the train…

…on the subway…

…at the Museum…

By this time, my listening capabilities and ability to be fully present were tired. But we were just beginning…

I would be educated and quizzed, much as a college student would be by their professor, about places in Egyptian history, tombs, gods’ names and what they do, what various symbols mean. 

And, I came to realize that my 9 1/2 year old son knows far more about Egyptian mythology and history than I ever will. Not only that, but in this situation when he talks about and is around what truly sparks his interest, he shines.

Also, surprising is his knowledge of Greek mythology. Granted, the MoFA didn’t have as many statues of Greek gods as he would have liked, Wesley was far from disappointed.

Finding himself enthralled by the armor early Greeks wore; trying to decipher the small symbols on plates, bowls, and vases ate up much of the time and captivated his interest. The depictions of saders led to a few quirky comments…lacking the understanding of a teenager or an adult, what was a very clear picture to those more “educated,” was “disturbing, that’s just wrong,” or “weird” to Wes.

After a couple of hours, the inevitable “I’m hungry” bubbled out of his very active mouth. So, we headed out. And, the conversations continued. By this time, I wanted, no needed a few quiet moments, just a few to sit quietly, not interact with anyone, and just breathe.

The subway ride to North Station was a pure challenge – Wesley talking about the museum, a jam-packed T with children screaming and bouncing all over the place, the woman standing next to me jostling me over and over again. And, the T going out of service. A blessing!! The perfect opportunity to take my tired and over-sensitive ears and frayed nerves out into the open. We walked the rest of the way to North Station under a quickly clouding sky, space, and a little less conversation. Given the time,  we enjoyed a lovely one-on-one mother and son lunch at an Irish restaurant before catching the train home. The perfect time to sit and take a few moments to relax and breathe.

The ride home was quieter and as we sat there contemplating which would reach home first – the train or the incoming thunderstorm. Grateful for the day, and utterly exhausted, grateful for a few moments to rest.

Those moments of learning how to breathe as I’m bombarded with questions and facts and myths move from a space and time of breathing into a space of being where I can witness Wesley being Wesley, where the walls he has around him, where his social awkwardness and challenges melt away to reveal a beautiful breath of heart.

So, whether it’s Egyptians, Greeks, or monks fighting battles with troglodytes…


…a naga…


…or dragons,


I thank my lucky stars that something has captivated Wes’ attention that allows him to be free, creative, and expressive. And, I sit back, listen, and breathe.

This entry was posted in autism spectrum disorders, family, parenting, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Learning to Breathe

  1. Beautifully written. I love the way you capture his interest and joy, in word and image.

  2. So many lessons to be learned if only we take a moment to stop and listen. Thank you for sharing, Amanda.

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