My husband and I spend individual time with each of our two children on a monthly basis. To be frank, the younger of the two almost always ends up with the lion’s share of our energy. Children with special needs tend to require a lot of energy. Spending time one on one with each helps the eldest child get the attention that she needs as a sibling of a child with a diagnosis of Autism.
One particular evening, my husband had date night with our eldest, while the youngest and I stayed home. My youngest, AJ, loves blocks, cards, and taking things apart. This evening he decided to play Uno, one of our favorite family games. Now, my husband, daughter, and I play the traditional way, with fast turn taking, lots of Draw 2’s, and a little bit of trash talking. My son, on the other hand, does lots of flipping through the cards over and over again, getting faster and more excited as each card is laid down.
I tried to engage with him by playing with him at his favorite spot on the stairs. First, I watched then tried to get him to hand me a card or let me take a few to flip through as well. With each effort, he swatted my hand away until he became so upset that he grabbed his cards and turned his back on me. I was hurt by his rebuff, to say the least. Didn’t he know I just wanted to play with him? Couldn’t he see that I just wanted to be a part of his world?
Then it hit me…hard. My heavenly father probably wanted the same from me. In that moment, I got a small glimpse of how much God loves us and longs to be with us, if we will let Him. He created us for the purpose of having a relationship with him. He made us to love Him, but gives us the choice to do so. Tears came to my eyes as I looked at my son, so in to what he was doing that he did not desire to spend time with any me.
Motivated by love, I tried again. I inched closer and closer to him, allowing him to acclimate to my presence. Then I gently lay a hand on top of his card pile. Gradually he looked up from the cards to my hand, and eventually, to my face. He turned towards me and made eye contact. Face to face now, he shifted his body towards mine and handed me the first of several cards. The joy I felt was almost more than I could bear.
Since that date night, we have had other card games. While he is flipping through green 2’s, Wild cards, and Reverses, he will periodically hand me a card to add to my own pile. At other times, he will lay cards in my hand until his pile is exhausted. Regardless of how we play, the moments we share are all the more joyful because they remind me of why we were both made to love.