I love Michael. I love him more than anything in the whole universe. I try and remember to tell him this, but I sometimes forget. Parents are not perfect, after all. He has no fear of what people think of him. He is truly comfortable saying what is on his mind at any given moment, even if it offends someone. This of course is not good. I tell him. So does his Dad. So do his teachers. He looks at us and understands, but will still have social faux pas. The Neuro Typical world is hard to understand. Heck, I’m neuro typical, or as a friend once joked, neuro typical enough, and I have a hard time with the many unwritten social rules we have to remember to keep things in order, what to say, what to avoid, what to read in facial expressions. Seeing the world through Michael’s eyes is confusing for me too at times, and as a writer, I have always felt like a bit of an outsider looking in more than looking out. It’s cool, but I always wonder if I’m alone in this, unless I’m in another room full of writers, of course. 🙂
What I most admire about my little guy though, is his tenacity, his strength, his endurance in trying to be himself in a world that has rules he doesn’t always understand, a pace he can’t always keep track of, and people who, well, are weird to him. And we are weird. All of us. That’s good. But most of us pretend we aren’t and that we all fit in. All the time. That’s how things can run smoothly. Everyone has to follow a certain regime or there would be total chaos. It is not always self-evident. Still, I manage, like other human beings, to balance this. It is a lot harder for Michael. He sometimes succeeds in getting it, what the rest of the world expects of him, other times not so. He is so brave though. He keeps trying. He makes conversation. He gets out there and he is himself, completely himself.
I look at my different exceptional son and I say, wow! Each and every second of the day he amazes me with his ability to try and cope in a world that he does not understand and that is confused by him more often than not. Still, everywhere he goes he spreads joy. Every person he encounters and speaks to, hugs, interacts with has a smile, a kind word., and is visibly and emotionally impressed by him. All seem to accept him at face value, appreciate him, and as one friend who is a writer recently told me upon reading one of my blog posts, “the world needs a hug from kids like Michael.” Remember parents, your children are beautiful. They bring a beauty to our world as well as en eye opening warning that in these times of war, discrimination, injustice, humans need to change their ways. They need to accept difference in all forms. They need to realize that all people, all living things are connected. We all make mistakes. It is time to grow, and not be afraid to challenge ourselves, whether we are neuro typical or exceptional, to think outside the box. Even on difficult days for me, I always ask myself, and what kind of a day has it been for my son? How much harder for him?
Exceptional Parents, how often have we unintentionally stopped our Exceptional Children from being themselves? How many times have we forgotten to tell them, I’m proud of you for having made it through another day in a world that is hard for you? Don’t worry. We’ve all made that mistake. What’s important for the future, is remembering to value difference, value what makes your child stand out, and value what makes you stand out as an individual and parent. That is the gift you will give your child and yourself. Until next time .