When my son, Erik was 8, he was still in diapers. We had tried everything to potty-train him. Seriously, if there was a method, we had tried it; but still, no success. Then, right in the middle of Church one day… it happened. A smell that could only be described as an evil spirit wafted down our isle. That’s right, you guessed it. The smell coming from Erik was… well, let’s just say we had the worst smelling pew known to man… and God. It may have been best described as a pew-poo. From 4 kids away, my wife Shelly contorted her nose, turned towards me and with watering eyes, quietly mouthed to me, “Oh, my Gosh, is that Erik?” After I quietly mouthed back to her that it sure WASN’T ME, she – without saying a word, and with just a look – helped me to understand that the time was NOW to take him out and change him.
When we finally got to the restroom, I lowered the wall-hanging changing table and lifted Erik up. Keep in mind, he’s 8, the changing table has a weight limit (and obviously a length-limit) of which Erik is over on both, so I was being very careful to make sure he didn’t slide off or break the hinge and collapse the whole thing. I was so focused on making sure he was safe (and clean) I maybe missed a few things that should have mattered.
A few things I DID notice at the time, however, were first; he was fighting me. You know what I’m talking about, right? You know when you’re trying to change a diaper and your child arches their backs so you can’t effectively lift them up and wipe them clean? Yep, you know. Now remember, he’s 8 and way stronger than a toddler. And second; it was very obvious that the “evil spirit” wafting through the air was so powerful that I could TASTE IT!
After what seemed to be 10 minutes of stress and sweat (both of us) he was clean and we walked back in to the Chapel.
As my wife saw me at the end of the isle and turned and smiled at me (probably because SHE had not endured the stress of the event) her smile quickly turned in to a look of pure horror.
Unbeknownst to me, while I was changing Erik and had turned to toss the diaper in to the trashcan, he had wizzed all down my pant leg and – as I was wearing khaki colored slacks – had left a “you can’t miss it” one foot-wide, two foot-long streak of contrasting, dark brown stain on my pants.
With sore muscles and sweat beading on my forehead from the previous “diaper-change fight” I had just experienced, I plopped down on the pew and lowered my head in defeat. I was exhausted, conquered and “partially soaked in urine.”
Needless to say, it was NOT a very fun experience.
THEN, a few days later I made what – at the time – I THOUGHT was a mistake – but turned out to be a wonderful turning point in my life. I relayed the experience to my older brother, Kreg.
You know the story. It wasn’t funny to me at the time, but as I told Kreg, he couldn’t stop laughing. His unrelenting laughter as I relayed my pain and suffering eventually caused me to start laughing and together, we laughed so hard our sides started to hurt and cheeks became sore.
Later, as I reviewed the event in my mind, I couldn’t help but think, “If it’s so funny later – and it really is a GREAT and funny story – why can’t I enjoy the moment WHILE it’s happening?”
I decided right then and there that moving forward, I was going to enjoy ALL the moments that would lead to great stories. And I was going to write them down.
Shortly after I changed my perspective, instead of saying, “OH NO” or being defeated as I experienced crazy events, I found myself saying, “Holy Moly, this is going to be a GREAT story to tell others.”
On my blog are some of the stories that became the funniest and most defining in my – and my 2 sons affected by autism’s – lives. Because of this “change of my attitude” we can now THRIVE as others “gasp in horror” or “recoil in amazement.” As you read, please, please laugh. It’s okay. We survived. The kids are happy. And you may just find a story or two that mirror an experience you may have had. If so, please share with me – and all your friends.