Today I tried something new. I spent an hour and a half with the autistic students attending summer school. It was their last day of summer school and they had earned a party for their hard work the past four weeks. There was coloring and Wii games and flying stuffed monkeys and giant cardboard box houses and tornadoes in a bottle. It was total chaos and total bliss. The kids pretty much ignored me until we went to lunch.
As I stood behind them in line, they began to realize I was there. They started petting me and hugging me and touching my nose. I sat by a boy who told me my name was "new guy." When I told him my name was Tiffany, he said, "Okay, new guy." Then he started to tell me a knock knock joke. It made no sense, but I laughed anyway. When the kids saw I laughed, they all started telling me knock knock jokes over the top of each other. Then the first boy grabbed my face and turned it to look at him. Then he told me the joke again.
This little guy was suddenly my best friend. He held my hand and held on to my arms the rest of lunch and recess. We played in the wood chips and made paths, giant dragonflies, and letters. It was a great day for new guy and her new friend.
Being around kids who were so full of life, without the socialization most kids have, was refreshing. Every emotion was felt honestly and fully. They picked flowers that were off limits because they were so beautiful. They ran with their faces smiling up at the sun. They debated the way dragonflies talk, and they played together because they both wore green. They welcomed me with hugs and kisses and held my hand the entire time. In my world, it's rare to be loved so openly, and I fell in love with them just as fast.
Today, these cute kids taught me how to embrace life, to live honestly, and to live in the moment. That hour and a half gave me balance, love, and lots of joy.