We took Apollo to Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City yesterday. It’s supposed to be the best one in town. I wasn’t excited to go, but there was a promise of BBQ and Costco, so it wasn’t very hard to convince me.
Our daughter had her 8th grade graduation for online school, so I figured she would want me to attend that with her. Turns out she didn’t. She practically shoved me out the door so she could have some time at home by herself. We all need that every once in a while, so I acquiesced and headed to the boring museum with the hubs and our sweet boy.
Apollo is always happy to spend the day with mom and dad. It seems like he’s making up for lost time. He’s been the quiet, sometimes overlooked middle child while the louder, needier siblings demanded our parental attention. He’s getting more attention than he’s had in his whole life. And he’s loving it!
Ryan suggested that we each find three art pieces that resonated with us. We would take a photo and discuss them over BBQ lunch at a Q39. My favorite piece had a simple placard next to it describing the artist’s intention. The piece is called Continuity, and was made in 2022 by Chinese American artist Hong Chun Zhang.
The placard read: “My work combines traditional Chinese fine style ink painting technique with a new Italian fabric called Alcantara, which provides me with flexibility to create layers of detail on a large scale. I have been working with long hair images for a while. I continue to use it in this piece to mix figurative and landscape composition and explore my Chinese identity and family tradition that I have passed on to my daughter, like a tree with deep roots growing on adopted land in the American Midwest.”
This piece was also one of Ryan and Apollo’s favorite pieces. It seems to hold a lot of significance for our family. I thought about the beautiful piece of art all night and what it means to me.
My family means everything to me. I live for them, and I would die for them. My life would not have meaning without them.
I have a strong husband that keeps me rooted, no matter where we are. I have strong branches that flair out in each direction with the extension of our love into our children. We hold them up together so that they can grow toward the sun. We give them fertile soil to grow and develop in, that rests on a strong root system based in love between my husband and I, and digs deeper roots into a foundation of love for God.
I wonder at times if we are doing the right thing to uproot our kids lives every three months as we move from one geographical location to the next. The fleeting connections they make with friends don’t seem to last. As awesome as our life is, it’s not without sacrifices — a lot of those sacrifices are resting on our children and their friendships.
It hurts when the one thing they want the most is the one thing I can’t provide. We give them plenty of opportunities and experiences to make friends, but they have to do the rest and they often struggle.
Apollo wanted to take Karate, so we enrolled him at with Master Overby’s US Martial Arts in Topeka, Kansas. The teen class is huge, full of nerdy kids from Topeka. I was encouraged that Apollo would fit right in after seeing this room full of very white, very nerdy karate students.
Apollo is an extrovert. He’s as friendly as can be! He’s not a “hang back” kind of guy. He walked right up to one of the black belt students, who stood with his very tall, super dorky girlfriend, and started talking to them without shame.
The problem was, he mistook that boy for a different student he had met the first night, and called this black-belt student the wrong name. It was embarrassing for Apollo, the awkward interaction. He walked back over to me and I pointed out the boy he was probably looking for, but Apollo didn’t want to hear it.
It was painful for me to watch this boy’s girlfriend roll her eyes and snicker behind my sweet son’s back.
Apollo held the door for the entire class to enter, and I watched that mean girl’s mom take over the door-holding responsibility and usher my sweet boy in with a genuine smile on her face.
She’s a good woman with a rotten daughter. I can relate.
But it hurt my heart so bad that the de-valuing all those mean kids. Those hicks from Kansas, that have probably never traveled outside of their small town, wouldn’t know a good decent person if he held the door open for them. My sweet husband informed me that that line of thinking is not a healthy coping mechanism to the rejection that I’m feeling for my son. Glad one of us is reasonable.
Apollo’s mom de-valuing the children of Kansas will not help Apollo be more accepted by them. Perhaps he will learn better ways to interact, and maybe I need to allow him these painful interactions.
But here’s the thing, within his autism he doesn’t know he’s being laughed at. He doesn’t know that when they silently move away from him and he finds himself alone, they did that on purpose.
He has a hard time differentiating faces, so one tall, nerdy guy with sandy blonde hair looks like another tall thin guy with light brown hair. In his mind, they are the same person.
To Apollo it is weird that “Landon” was so cool when they first met, but the next time “Landon” has a B of a girlfriend and is completely dismissive. Sorry, that’s me de-valuing again. Hard to not.
Landon — the real Landon — was super cool with Apollo. The problem is, Apollo just couldn’t tell who the real Landon was. And it stands to reason that Apollo will keep trying to form relationships with people that laugh behind his back because he’s different.
When it was time to partner up, the two other white belts partnered with Apollo. Luxe and Journey were happy to have him in their group. They appreciated his ease of manor, and his friendliness. His diligence to learn was received well and walked him through some moves that were hard for him to master.
Bless Luxe and Journey.
We will be gone in three months. This fleeting time will fade in my memory. Apollo will find his people along the way. And I have to count my blessings that his strong spirit is protected from the slights of mean, hick kids with ugly, mega-B girlfriends.
Our life on the road does not come without hardships. We left a lot of ease behind the moment with committed to living on the road. The good still outweighs the bad.
And our roots are anchored in our hearts as a family. Despite being spread out in Kansas, San Antonio, and Utah, my children are rooted to Ryan and me.
Those roots run deep into our family’s Eternal bond, regardless of the soil upon which we stand.
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to peruse other Musings from the Road, here you go!
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