"Come On, Amos! You can do it!”
In that moment, I had a glimpse of what could have been- the summer I had planned. Me, a junior sailing counselor at a camp that I had attended every summer since I was 6 years old. My plan for as long as I can remember, but I didn't get the job.
Instead, I accepted a nanny position for four children, ages 3-11, and here I was, staring into the blue eyes of a 3-year-old with white blond hair and begging him to poop. Amos is not just any 3-year-old, he also has autism.
Most days I would arrive, get a polite nod from the two older boys, an enthusiastic hug from their sister- excited to have another girl around, and from Amos? Well, he didn't notice me too much. Their mom would go over a list of activities for the day which included appointments, play dates and lunch at Dairy Queen. I was chauffeur, referee, hair stylist, lego builder and lifeguard.
I was also potty trainer extraordinaire, definitely not in my plans. It wasn't easy. Amos had lots of accidents and the one at the grocery store sticks out the most- “Clean up on aisle 4.” But slowly, I learned to navigate the days with Amos, one step at a time. Not just potty training, but his outbursts too. Although infrequent, you never knew when they were coming.
Occasionally, it was just Amos and me. I loved watching him play with his trains and would wonder what he was thinking. He would let me hold him on those days and we spend time snuggled close, I like to think we were bonding, but have to wonder if it was because I was the only game in town! We fell into our summer pattern. I looked forward to my nods, hugs and lists. Towards August, Amos would come over and say, “Bye, Ellie!” We would all laugh, even Amos. I’ll take that as he was happy to see me.
I discovered a lot about myself this summer. I learned to drive a suburban with ease, became a master at hauling four kids around and getting places on time. I can potty train with the best of them, even little boys with autism. Life doesn't have a manual, you learn as you go and that’s okay. It doesn’t go as planned either, but sometimes it turns out even better.
I think I've learned to tackle things life throws my way with a bit more confidence and, I have to admit, I’ve always struggled around people who are different. Amos taught me that everyone has something to give in their own way and that small things maybe aren't so small after all. “Bye, Ellie.”
Written by Ellie