Ten years ago today Eli entered our world. He was a fragile little guy at just 5 1/2 pounds, and had suffered from IUGR (intra-uterine growth retardation). He was born with neurological delays that would present themselves over the course of a few years. With the possibility of autism looming, we had him evaluated as a two year old and determined that something was, indeed, amiss. He had many of the classic symptoms of being on the spectrum.
Eli is certainly a special kid. I would say that he is a normal 10 year old boy, but he is not. He is extraordinary! I do not know what we would do if he was "normal". He is so serious and honest and probably the most loving and affectionate kid you have ever met. He never meets a stranger and thinks of everyone as his friend. I have never met someone with more of a gift of encouragement than him. He enjoys each and every ordinary moment of life. He has had a lot of best days.
Over the past 10 years Eli has overcome many obstacles with a dimpled smile on his face. He gets frustrated when he can't be perfect at something, and we have to spend a lot of time talking him off the ledge as he gets stressed. But, other than a slight remaining stutter, you wouldn't know that he was different from any other kid … except that he is always sweet, well-behaved, and respectful. (You don't see that much these days.) And there is not a shy or mean bone in his body.
I am thrilled to call Eli my son. I love him so much it makes my heart hurt. I cannot imagine my days without him. I am honored that I get to teach him and, more often than that, to learn from him. He has taught me much in this decade of his life.
Eli Jackson Taulman, your mama loves you so much! Happy 10th birthday!