Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Mermaid

with 14 comments

Last week I was sent an email to see if Pudding would like to go swimming with Miss Arizona.

Pudding + swimming = yes.  The kid loves water.

Then I quickly checked with the coordinator for details.  It turns out there was going to be “swim buddies” and I wouldn’t have to get into the water.  Phew.  I have healthy self-esteem, but I also have an unhealthy appetite for sweets, and I’m not exactly swimsuit ready.  I’m especially not in a swimsuit next to a Miss America contestant ready!  🙂

The birthday boy stayed at home with his grandparents, so I just got to sit back and watch.  And because for once I wasn’t juggling two kids with very different sensory needs, I got to really see it.  How different she is in the water.  It isn’t just that she is more attentive, and coordinated, it isn’t just that she is more social…it is that she is where she belongs.

She fits.

She is at peace.

She is right.

I watched her play games, follow directions, and swim races.  I got to watch her be a regular kid, doing ordinary kid things with some other extraordinary children, and the wonderful volunteers who truly care.

Really though, it was the smile on her face that did me in.  It made me curse my lack of scales and fishy tail.  That smile was luring me to the water to join her.  Where she belongs.  Because on dry land she doesn’t seem to fit in.

She is disturbed by the war on her senses.

She feels all wrong.

She is the fish out of water.  No wonder she feels the call of the sea.

If I’d have brought my costume, I’d have dived in to be with her.  I wouldn’t have cared about being juxtaposed with a beauty queen, my mermaid was so bewitching I thought of nothing but her radiant smile.

As it was, I didn’t have my costume with me, and I sat at the poolside until I was joined by a man I’d never met.  He introduced himself as Bob Pizzano, the man behind the water safety program that responsible for this event and Pudding’s trip to the pool with her S.M.I.L.E. program.  We chatted about the amazing new sprayground that will open in May, where kids of all abilities with a love of the water will be able to play side by side.  We discussed the goals of their program, and what they had already achieved.  Lastly we talked about the dark side of the attraction to water that some kids like Pudding have.  His own developmentally delayed son, Joey, tragically drowned, and the family subsequently created The Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund,a foundation to honour his life, improve the lives of other special needs children and their families, and help prevent such tragedies from happening again.

I was at a loss for words to express both my sorrow at his loss, and the gratitude I felt for his dedication to families like ours.  In the end he was called away to talk to somebody much more important, but the last thing he spoke of was how much he had enjoyed seeing my girl’s smile.  Only this morning did I find these words on his foundation’s site:

Joey had a bright smile, hearty laugh and a love of life that touched many people’s lives. Joey loved his family, he loved the water and he loved to swim. The Pizzano family wanted to celebrate Joey’s life through the foundation in hopes that his smile would be seen through the faces of other children with disabilities enjoying the water and their families.

I’m still at a loss for words, so I’ll leave it to the mermaid’s smile.  This one is for you, Mr. Pizzano:

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am

14 Responses

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  1. So beautiful, and so beautifully written. 🙂

    Laura

    March 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

  2. What a beautiful day for you and Pudding. It’s an awesome thing that the Pizzano family has done for others. Looks like you will be sitting poolside quite a bit more often now that you’ve found something so perfect for her! That smile speaks volumes.

    solodialogue

    March 29, 2011 at 9:55 am

  3. Amazing how you were transfixed with Pudding’s smile as he was with his son. A remarkable man to give back in such a way.

    Lizbeth

    March 29, 2011 at 10:19 am

  4. My GB is also on the spectrum and has always been more at home in the water than anyplace else. Sounds like an awesome program!

    Laurie

    March 29, 2011 at 10:22 am

  5. Just goes to show that meet Angels everyday – we just need to be looking! What a wonderful man on his mission. So glad your mermaid had so much fun!! Great post!!

    joeysmommy

    March 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

  6. oh, this one touched me. That smile. What a gift that man has given to you and so many. I hope you send him this.

    akbutler

    March 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  7. I am amazed by some people’s ability to give in response to their own tragedy. Thank you for sharing this man’s story.

    This sounds like a wonderful program. My own spectrummy son does wonderfully well in the water – I suspect it has something to do with being immersed in something that provides much more sensory feedback than air.

    Diane

    March 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

  8. Just lovely, beautiful photo, thank you for sharing. Love and hugs. xx 🙂

    alienhippy

    March 29, 2011 at 6:20 pm

  9. Isn’t it amazing how many on the spectrum love the water and feel at home there. I swear my Aspie boy has gills…no fear at all, very much at home.

    Teresa

    March 30, 2011 at 8:37 am

  10. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face, too! A great pick-me-up after a trying day as a spectrum mom.

    autismmaven

    March 30, 2011 at 11:25 pm

  11. […] around, and generally sensory-seeking.  Even though she has lived in a tower her entire life, she is not at all afraid of being in water.  She has special talents […]

  12. […] March, Cubby was chatting up a storm, and we celebrate his birthday.  Pudding went swimming with Miss Arizona.  We had a Yes Day, which is the perfect relief from all those Paper […]

  13. […] water is to Pudding, how she finds peace pouring and bathing in the stuff.  But the problem for my mermaid is safety.  We have a pool, as do many of the homes here.  The number of deaths of foreign […]

  14. […] I do it twice a week because Pudding loves it, and I’ve written here and here and here about what swimming means to her, and me by […]


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