I've always loved surprises. The good kind, like finding money in an old coat or running into a great friend. I'm less interested in surprises that involve car trouble and rain during a picnic, but they, too, have their place. I like an instant surprise. Not the kind where you have to wait and wonder what is about to happen because those can be painfully anticipatory. I'm partial to the kind that come out of nowhere like flowers on a Tuesday, a last minute trip or the Red Sox winning the World Series.
I've always enjoyed surprises. Even as a child when my friends and I would make our way to the corner store to buy candy, I couldn't help but be sucked into those surprise bags, every time. Even as I began to realize that these bags were largely made up of the candy and treats the store owner couldn't sell, I would still shell out my hard-earned chore money for the pleasure of tearing open that bag, even if I were to find stale candy and baseball cards with players we didn't know.
For Kate, and others with autism, the unknown is a scary place. So much of her day must be predictable and safe or things can quickly get out of hand. She doesn't have the luxury of enjoying surprises because the confusion it brings can be too much to bear. Kate lives in the moment and while there is much good that can come from that, there is also heartache when the excitement of a birthday party or a holiday becomes too much.
Now, I dread surprises. I worry about parties and holidays. I have angst about travel and I fear kindergarten most of all. Kate doesn't though, she doesn't fear any of these things. She may become overwhelmed at times but she doesn't live in fear of anything. I guess there is a lesson in that.
Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)