I was born to tell stories. Putting thoughts on paper has always come easily to me; through story telling, I paint pictures with my words and draw people in. It’s truly my passion, my job, my life.
Sometimes, the story isn’t mine to tell.
I’ve been accused of over-sharing. Of putting my life on the Internet; I’ve told stories about births, bloody noses and bare bottoms. And whenever I begin a blog post – especially one that involves my boys – I ask myself if they’d be okay with me inviting readers into our private lives. At ages 3 and 5, they’re too young to consent to being a fixture on my blog; hence, I often have to step back and envision them reading the post 10 years into the future.
Would they want me to talk about the funny little things they do? Will they be happy that I shared our stories… or mortified that I could be so personal and candid with strangers? Will they relish every post, as they take a glimpse into their wonderful childhood from years passed?
(Dear Sons of the Future: Your childhood was kick ass. Years from now, when you call me a b*tch and say life isn’t fair, I’ll send you blog links to the toys you played with, the places you’ve been, and the people you’ve met. You are spoiled fortunate.)
The story I won’t tell today is Ryder’s story. Months ago, he was diagnosed with Selective Mutism, a form of social anxiety. He lives with it every day. We’ve lived with it every day. To make a long story short, Ryder just completed an entire year of school, and spoke only a handful of times.
Of course, he is completely capable of speaking (to the point we often wish he would shut up), but in brand new social situations, he does not. At this point, you may be thinking Huh? I’ve seen videos of him speaking! Click the link above; it explains the diagnosis in a clear and concise way, and actually describes Ryder to a tee. Again, I could spend 5000 words going into specifics, but it simply isn’t my place to share these details. However, I did want to address the issue today for two reasons.
The first is to put it out there – and tag it up the wazoo so if anyone else is searching the Internet for selective mutism they’ll land on this post and contact me. I’d love to swap stories, share anecdotes and coping techniques. There are so few selective mutes out there, and finding information is difficult and frustrating. Most sources point to children growing out of it by the age of six… you can probably guess the number of prayers I’ve recited in the meantime.
The second reason I chose to share this post is to offer my sincere thanks to one of Ryder’s classmates, a sweet, patient, nurturing and caring little girl I’ll call K. From the very beginning of school, K befriended Ryder and took him under her wing. She held his hand when they lined up at recess; she sat beside him and complimented his amazing penmanship and ability to quickly grasp every Montessori concept introduced to him. She spoke to him as an equal; not as the weird, silent kid. And while she encouraged him to talk, she was never offended if he simply nodded in response. By the end of the school year, K was the only person Ryder had uttered a few words to – but in the case of selective mutism, it was considered a small breakthrough.
I wanted to thank K for being such an amazing friend to Ryder. And so I did something I’ve never done before – I called Fisher-Price and shared Ryder’s story with them. And when I said, “I’d love to gift K with something to show our appreciation…” they responded immediately and sent us the Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace to present to her. I am a proud #FisherPriceMom, and in that moment, it reinforced my adoration and commitment to the brand. Thank you K, and thank you Fisher-Price, too.
This was Ryder moments before K stopped by for a play date. A little boy, waiting for his princess to arrive.
My hope is that by this time next year, we’ll have made progress and Ryder will open up to everyone – not just the people he is comfortable conversing with. He is an inquisitive, intellectual and expressive little boy, and I want everyone to know the Ryder that I do. Until then, we’ll continue to introduce him to new people and new situations.
And we’ll continue to be his biggest cheerleaders.