Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Decade Mom

Seven years ago I wrote this:
Three-year-old boys are usually not very interesting people.

Perhaps you work with someone who is a parent of a three-year-old boy. Once you get past the general stats (yeah, my boy can throw a football - he's got some arm I tell ya), the requisite compliment of the photo/original artwork/unrecognizable craft project (wow. Your kid made that gluesparklethingy himself? wow.) What is there to say after that? What? There are only two major things that can possibly make a three-year-old boy interesting:

Good Luck:
Inheritance - everybody loves rich people, right?
Beauty - Macaulay Culkin will never be so loved as when he was a preschooler
Talent - I saw a 3-year-old kid who could play zydeco accordion on a talk show once
Brains - that cuddly kid over there can compute pi to the 784th place! Woo!

and Bad Luck:
Poverty - Save the Children wouldn't show those hungry kids if it made people turn the channel
Disability - did you see that poor kid with the deformity/wheelchair/freckles?
Mishap - orphans, toddlers who fall down wells, survivors of crime and accident are riveting.

I am a parent of a three-year-old boy. He is bad luck interesting. Pervasive Developmental Delay. Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Sensory Integration Disorder. Asperger Type Symptoms. He is still learning to speak. He is socially inept - he may mistake hitting or headbutting as friendly gestures. He can't stand certain textures of food, strong smells, or high pitched sounds. People find him interesting. They ask questions.

"Autistic? Are you giving him extra oxygen?" Perhaps you thought I said Asthmatic.
" What's his special talent? You think he could count cards in Vegas like Rain Man?" He can freeze water with his mind.
"Can he read your mind?" Ummmmmmmmm...

They comment:

"He doesn't look autistic." Uh, Thanks?
"I'm so very sorry - how is your family handling it?" He didn't die. This is part of his personality. He wouldn't be him without it.
"You are an inspiration." You wouldn't say that if you knew I served my child pizza for dinner 5 nights in a row.

My favorite is when people give me parenting advice. The best comes from people without kids.

"He just needs some attention." I spend 20 hours a day with him - what more can I do?
"He just needs some discipline." Oh yeah - I'll be sure to crack the whip until he understands what a napkin is.
"Don't worry - He'll grow out of it." Thank you Dr. Stupid. I feel much better now.

So what, you ask, am I supposed to say to you, mother of the little boy spinning in circles, eating rocks, humming, repeating the same phrase over and over? I'll tell you. Find a Good Luck Interesting thing about him and say it.
"What a beautiful smile!"
"That is the fastest spinning I've ever seen!"
"He knows the names of all the planets! What a smart kid!"



My boy is ten years old today! Happy Birthday Jellyface! He goes to regular school in a regular class and if you ask him how he's doing he will say "I'm great! A liiiiiiittle autistic, but great!"

He is still processing what autism means. Over the past two weeks he tried to see if he could get away with clowning in class "autism means I'm goofy!" and wiggle out of homework "I cant do all of it, I'm too autistic" but neither ploy worked. I guess he learned autism isn't an excuse - but he also knows that it isn't something he needs to fight. He has had fights with his sister over weather doctors should try to cure autism. My favorite quote from that was "I don't NEED a cure. I LIKE being autistic!" yelled at the top of his lungs.

I like him just the way he is too. I only wish I'd known when I wrote the above piece how Good Luck Interesting autism could be, and how wonderful it is to have a goofy little kid as your son.


April said...

Happy Birthday Jelly!

Josephine Nicole said...

A very happy birthday to Jelly! And a happy 10-year anniversary of being a mom to you!

Easycure said...

A belated, but nonetheless very happy birthday wishes from the Easycure family.

Deborah said...

I would like to add that he is an awesome film director too! When is the party going to get started for the big 1-0???

Human Head said...

Where have you gone?

Please, take this albatross. You’re it.


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Student of Life said...

This post made me cry. Jellyface is very lucky to have a mom that cherishes him, no matter what his challenges are. It's awesome that you are teaching him to embrace all that makes him "him", and not to feel ashamed because he is different. Who gives a shit if your kid eats pizza five nights a week? You love him, and that is very obvious. That's way more than some kids who are fed nothing but organicwholegrainblahblahblah get. I'm sure they would prefer love to their spectacular diet any day of the week.

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