Parents! Give Yourself Grace

 Parents!  Give Yourself Grace

By Kami-Leigh Agard

Folks, this past month has been one that unfortunately I couldn’t compete with the patience of Job. I’m exhausted and my daughter, Soanirina “Soa,” knows it. From her jumping in the shower what feels like every minute of the day, even after she’s fully dressed for school; waking up at 1 a.m. in the morning to do her river stomping dance; turning on every tap in the house; and just this morning, opening a bottle of black ink and smearing it everywhere—folks, again, I’m spent. The thing is, the four of Soa’s prime caregivers each has a very distinct parenting approach, and what’s comical is that she—our common denominator—couldn’t care less and is as tamable as the character Animal in Sesame Street.

Lord, bless her kind, well-intended heart, but my mom is the helicopter nana. You know the type that constantly hovers, critically eyeing every detail and short-coming? “Kami, I keep telling you stop wetting Soa’s hair, it’s cold outside!” “Rado (my daughter’s dad), why is Soa’s coat not zipped up, she is going to get pneumonia!” And the tirades would continue, day and night, provoking me to silently cuss. However, my daughter’s dad, who has the patience of a saint, yet with a sardonic alter ego, would answer her question with a question. “I don’t know, let me think. Why isn’t her coat zipped up?” My grandmother would just shake her head and retreat to her room in disgust.

My granny, however, is the perfectionist. One time, I was putting a jumper on Soa, and she remarked, “Kami, that top is rumpled. Not a good statement.” I covertly rolled my eyes, swallowing cuss words under my breath.

If Soa is Animal from Sesame Street, my daughter’s dad is Animal, Sr. Many times, after a day of fun, he would bring her home, as groomed as a banshee. Clothing ripped and stained, hair running wildly as if she just returned from an audition for “George of the Jungle.” With my eyes as wide as saucers, I would yell, “In God’s name, where the hell have you guys been?” (Note, that I would have to be whispering this because I am not allowed to say such explicits in my family’s puritanical household, which isn’t difficult as my daughter would be howling with laughter at my expressions). Again, a man of few words, he would just respond, “We were having fun.” Fun indeed, with me left to clean up!

Then, there’s me. Truth be told, I guess I’m a combination of my granny and mom, sometimes enviously wishing I was more like her dad. But you know what, Soa loves us all, even her strict and exacting mummy.

But folks, the last two months has been quite a spell. I’m spent. Yet as crazy as Soa drives me with all her nuances, she makes me laugh, a lot. For a child who is nonverbal, she definitely can do a Seinfeld stand-up routine just with her antics.

Folks, this is just a public service announcement to say—whether your children are autistic or not, whether you live in a traditional household or as dysfunctional as Archie Bunker’s—love and understanding is what ties us together to do the best for our special children—dissenting opinions and approaches included. Plus, give yourself grace!

I talk about autism to open doors into the reality of our lives as caregivers, build understanding, tolerance and growth of our “artistic” children. Share your thoughts by emailing:

Save the dates! Sunday, April 21, 11 a.m.— Rockaway Beach Autism Families and Rockaway St. Camillus Special Olympics with ABA Tree invites you to our 2nd Annual Walk for Autism on the boardwalk. This year’s theme is “Hang 10 for Autism!” Free! To register, visit: or for more info, visit: Rockaway Beach Autism Families on Facebook/Instagram. Also, for April Autism Awareness Month, we’re also hosting a day of free haircuts, a cooking class, gardening and more. Stay tuned for details.


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