Navigating Our New Social Role

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Last year I wrote a post about “safe conversations” with casual acquaintances and strangers. I was finding that almost any general small talk led to questions about my daughter. “Oh, she must be excited about summer break coming up.” Or, “That’s such a fun age. What does she want for Christmas?” I think it’s great to share autism awareness, but sometimes it’s easier to lie. I don’t need to explain this to everyone, do I? Sometimes I just want to be on my way as quickly as possible.

Last week I was with Teghan at the grocery store when a man approached her with a magic trick. She wasn’t responding, and I could tell he felt awkward. I told him she would still enjoy it, she just didn’t know how to communicate. It was uncomfortable. He obviously regretted the effort. I get it, but it’s not fair to Teghan. She deserves a magic trick as much as the next kid; her inability to acknowledge it appropriately shouldn’t matter. But it does.

In my post last year I made the point that the more I talked about her autism, the more people I found who understood. That’s the good news. But the other response remains, and there is a similar uneasiness with those who already know us. For many people it is too personal to talk about who our child is. What else can I do? We’re talking about kids and she’s the only one I have. Continue reading

Facing Forever Every Day

 

Forever

When I look back at my childhood, I hardly ever think about the fourth grade. My teacher wasn’t particularly memorable. I had no strong feelings about her either way. Her classroom had the only piano outside of the music room and she was obsessed with teaching us how to speak French. I learned to sing a lot of songs in French that year. I don’t remember any of them now, but speaking (and singing) in French is the first of only five things I recall from that school year.

The second thing I remember is the time I lost three teeth in one afternoon. That meant three trips to the drinking fountain and three envelopes for tooth storage. It seemed important at the time, and it probably earned me seventy-five cents to spend on candy. In 1985 I could have bought two candy bars with that cash.

I was runner-up in the district wide spelling bee after spelling “course” instead of “coarse.” That’s right. Runner up.

That’s all I want to say about that.

And I will never ever forget the Mother’s Day program that year. Instead of making the usual three-ring bound cookbook covered with wallpaper scraps, we invited the moms in for a live musical performance. We sang the annoying song, “Parents Are People.” Its melody is seared in my brain for life. Google it if you dare.

But the most memorable event in fourth grade was the official breakup of the friendship between me and my best friend, Angie.  Continue reading