It Wasn’t a Rat – Not This Time

Thank goodness the movie theater was completely empty!

My burst of laughter shook the auditorium – and The Lego Movie Part II hadn’t even started yet! In fact, the commercials and movie previews hadn’t even run.

Yet, here I sat, with a huge grin on my face, a heart filled with love, and peals and peals laughter erupting from my soul in the otherwise silent room.

A child can bring that kind of blessed joy of the heart, can’t he?

Jake just had.

For John and me.

And Jake hadn’t even meant to – certainly if we consider what he had just confessed to doing.

Just moments before, John had said something like, “I am so glad we have some Energade (candy) for you, Jake. I just don’t know what happened to the Energade that was in the kitchen cupboard.”

Jake responded, “Just don’t worry about it, Dad.”

John smiled, but countered, “But I do, Jake. That Energade went missing and I don’t know why. I’m worried we might have a rat that took it.”

Jake replied, “Just don’t worry about it, Dad.”

John answered, “But Jake, if we have a rat that is getting into our kitchen, I’ll have to set a trap. We don’t want rats in the house. Not in the kitchen!”

Jake said again, “Dad, don’t worry about it. We don’t have rats.”

Jake enjoys these Energade jelly candies at the movies. We take them to the theater for him.

John asked, “But how do you know, Jake? That Energade just disappeared. We don’t know what happened to it. That’s why I had to buy more for you today.”

Once more, “Dad, just don’t worry about it.”

John tried another line, “Well, if it wasn’t a rat, Jake. Maybe it was a burglar. We don’t want burglars coming into the house to steal your Energade.”

That was the final straw.

Jake paused.

He would have no more of this burglar discussion.

He announced, “Dad, I have something to say. I took the Energade.”

John exclaimed, “You did?”

Jake answered, “Yes, Dad. It wasn’t a rat or a burglar. I took it for a snack. You were in Zimbabwe and Mom and Caleb were at the game place. Selina was with me. No one said that the Energade was for a movie. I didn’t know it was for a movie. No one told me that we might go to a movie. I decided to have it for a snack since it was there in the cupboard. So, don’t worry, Dad. We don’t have any rats. And we don’t have a burglar!”

John and I erupted in laughter.

John replied, “I am so glad to hear it.”

I affirmed, “Me, too, Jake. I don’t want any rats in our kitchen!”

Jake answered, “You don’t need to worry, Mom.”

And Jake was absolutely right. We needn’t worry. John and I had known all along that Jake had snatched up his favorite Energade candy a while ago. However, he hadn’t fessed up to taking it – not until the thought of a rat or burglar being pegged as the culprit was offered as a reason for the Energade’s disappearance.

Our South African life has had many, many, many rats, not to mention a mouse or two as well. Unfortunately, a few house burglars have broken into our house, too. None of these perpetrators appeal to Jake.

But as I sat with our family in the theater, even as Jake confessed to being the Energade Snatcher, I considered and appreciated our happy, fulfilling and blessed family life.

Yes, Jake is autistic.

Yes, there are challenges that come with his neurodiversity.

But, so what?!!!

Recently, some one posted these questions on Facebook, A risk of autism? Or a risk with death? Which would you choose?” This post was addressing the anti-vaccine movement which proposes that children’s vaccines are tied to autism and tragically, how measles-associated deaths are on the rise throughout the world as a result.

What made me sad about these questions is the assumption that autism would be just as tragic an outcome for a child as death would be. Honestly, such questions hurt. Two of my children are autistic.

According to what I understand about autism, after having interacted with doctors, therapists, psychologists and teachers who focus on autism and having also taken nine hours of university credit for an autism certification program, there is no singular cause of autism. Rather, research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and non-genetic, and/or environmental influences. These environmental influences include the parents’ ages, pregnancy and birth complications, history of viral infections, and exposure to environmental toxins. These environmental influences do not include vaccinations. Over two decades’ worth of research has found no link between autism and childhood vaccinations. In fact, the 1998 study that helped ignite the anti-vaccination movement was proven false in 2010 and was retracted.

Were my children vaccinated? Yes, they were. However, there was never a thought in my mind whether we would vaccinate our children or not – to prevent them from being autistic. They already were autistic – we just didn’t know it yet.

We’ve lived a lot of life with autism and there is more life to be lived.

It’s not always easy. But, who said parenting and raising kids was ever going to be easy?

Rather than focusing on autism, John and I focus on our children.

We have embraced this heart-strengthening truth about our sons:

Jake and Caleb are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for them to do.

New International Version, Ephesians 2:10

From the beginning of time, God had Jake and Caleb’s life purposes in view as He had an incredible plan designed for them both. Their existence, their purpose, and their place on earth was and is God-planned and God-orchestrated. God knew that autism would be part of Jake and Caleb’s story and our family story as well.

We accept their autism; their neurodiversity, and we embrace it.

Jake’s unique way of thinking and his wondrous perspective give us joy. Yesterday, I guffawed loud and strong in movie theater – not because of the movie – but because of the gift of honesty, love, and  laughter from my son.

This son is autistic.

So, what? Autism is not a life or death decision. Autism is part of God’s amazing and good plan for Jake’s life.

Jake is learning how to live into his God-given purpose. Jake’s life is an offering of praise, joy, and blessing to our family and to those who know and love him.

Caleb, too.

Micah, as well.

John and I are right there, also.

We all are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do – with or without autism.

So, let’s just keep living the life that God had planned in the first place!

Let’s keep laughing.

Let’s keep learning.

Let’s keep talking.

Let’s keep listening.

Let’s keep growing.

Let’s keep loving.

Let’s keep doing the unique  and purposeful things God has for us to do.

Shall we?

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