i am a working mother. i am the assistant manager for 385 apartment homes in nashville, tennessee. it is a really tough job, but i love it. we have some great people living in our rentals, and with many of them i have a friendly relationships.
one of these ladies came to my office today.
i’ll call her “ollie”.
ollie and her two little girls came into the office to pay rent and to ask some questions about the best way to end a lease while her family starts to look for a house to buy. during our conversation, her two little girls were all over the place, grabbing items, running off…they are as cute as can be. their ages are about two and four; and they both have curly blond hair with blue eyes. just little cuties! anyway, they were a handful for her.
once when ollie turned around to grab one of them i noticed a “puzzle piece” tattoo behind her right ear. of course, i had to ask. so when i asked her if the tattoo was there because maybe one of children may be autistic she said, “hell no, thank god”.
“hell no, thank god”.
let that sink in for a minute.
is that the attitude that parents of non-autistic children have about autistic children? do people have that much pity for us? sure we definitely have our challenges and bad days, but are our lives really that bad? and, is challenging a bad thing? what kind of press do we get?
this past week a little boy, age six, showed up at a gas station here in nashville naked and alone. he wouldn’t talk to the staff; he just kept opening food off of the shelf and eating. of course, the first impression was “oh no, what a horrible parent to have a naked child out running the streets of nashville”. come to find out, the mother was a great mother who was vacationing here and her autistic son managed to unlock the hotel room door while she was sleeping by using a chair.
i am sure that day for her was both challenging and bad. but, i know from our personal experience that there are many days that seem to be fairly normal. we get up, we have breakfast, we get dressed, we go out, we play, we learn, we eat more, we relax, we go to bed, we sleep. you get the picture. is our “plight” being magnified?
i know that there are many parents out there that have some children whose autism is very severe. we are lucky that sir dantes is not extremely severe. most of his autistic traits are annoying at best and only one is extremely scary; his running off. so, maybe i am not being fair. maybe the comment just struck me the wrong way. after all, ollie did not know that our son is autistic. had she known, maybe her answer wouldn’t have sounded so cold. maybe it would have been a little softer, such as, “no, but i am grateful that my children are not because i know that the parents of autistic children have a tougher time”.
i know that she meant no offence.
but, it made me think that we need to be more vocal about the positives we experience. i know that many of my blogs have not been positive. i get on here and groan and complain most of the time. i know that in the future i will continue to groan and complain. but, i am going to try to be more positive. after all, there are many things that sir dantes does that just warms my heart. when i come home from work he greets me with a hug and a smile. when it time for a bath, he knows to how to undress himself and is eager to brush his teeth. at bedtime, he takes his hands and cups my face and smiles.
now, those are some “hell yea, i have a son with autism” moments.