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My Son Is My Own 'Wonder' Boy

I have recently read, “Wonder” by R.J.Palacio for the second time and I still said “Wow” at the end. I’m not going to give you a book review, you have Amazon for that, but I will say that if you have never read it, regardless of the genre you usually enjoy, you probably won’t be disappointed. You see, at the core of the book is a message of kindness, and to be honest, even though the story might not be your “thing,” if kindness isn’t, then there really is some work to be done on you my friend. Everyone I know who has read the book raves about it. It seems to touch them in a beautiful way, but it touched me on a whole different level.

Why it touched me:

It touched me in a real way. You see, my son, Harry, is my very own Wonder, and I am the Mum trying desperately to let him grown up, but terrified of doing so at the same time. I’m fearful of people’s reactions to him (based on past experiences), and incredibly sad that people judge him before they have the chance to meet him. He melts the heart of everyone who gets to know the boy behind the face, but so many people are rushing through life preferring to judge people with their eyes instead of their hearts. I wish everyone could see my boy, and other Wonders, with their “heart goggles” on. Just once would be enough.

One story. Many views.

The book offers the sister’s perspective. This fictitious story made me think about my own real-life tale and how my son,Oliver, might feel overlooked at times. I thought of the nights he wants me to lie with him on the bed for a minute, but Harry is downstairs so I can’t. The days when he wants to nip into town to buy something with his pocket money, but we can’t because a trip anywhere near home bargains results in Harry having a meltdown. The cinema visits and meals out we have a few times a year when it’s just us, while Harry is in the school holiday club so that Oliver can have the undivided attention he deserves. Does he ever feel like he takes second place? That his needs and wishes are relegated below Harrys? I truly hope not, but I wonder whether that is an inevitable part of having a sibling with disabilities — knowing that from time to time your sibling has to be the focus of attention.

My own Wonder.

Auggie is aware of the stares and the whispers; he feels the pain of being different. I don’t know where Harry stands on this, sometimes I think he is oblivious because of his autism. Perhaps Harry is free from the sadness that comes with the struggle to be accepted, but maybe not. I don’t know if he has the capacity to build resilience, experience friendships like most children do, enjoy the lows of a bad day and the elation of knowing he is amazing regardless of what people think. As much as I don’t want him to experience sadness and loneliness, I do want him to know the joy of overcoming adversity, of friendships and love. Of Wonder.

Pass the tissues.

When I cried at the end of “Wonder,” I cried for Auggie who had no idea just how extraordinarily amazing he was. For his parents, who battled their own instinct to protect him from a world which isn’t always an accepting one and chose to help him find his own way anyway. For his sister, who sometimes felt embarrassed but always dearly loved her little brother. For the friends, who eventually saw the boy behind the syndrome. So much of “Wonder” is similar to our own life. And so, I also cried for my own boy who I hope gets to know how extraordinarily amazing he is. For myself, who wants to protect my boy and worries about what will happen to him when I’m gone. For Oliver, who loves his brother fiercely and yet still feels frustrated, lonely and angry sometimes.

The difference between a good book and a great book.

A good book really makes you think about your own life. A great book helps you see where you need to make some changes to your life. So, I resolved I will lie with Oliver on occasions, I will stop asking him how his brother is on the days he calls me from his Dad’s so I make sure our conversation is centered on him, and for the next few nights I am going to turn the TV off and cuddle both of my boys on the sofa and read to them. I’m going to read “Wonder.”

Follow this journey at Our Altered Life.

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Image provided by Charlie Beswick

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