Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why I support "Gay" Marriage

Tomorrow the Supreme Court of the United State will rule on Marriage Equality. I am hoping fervently they will rule in favor of equality for my friends and family members. This view of mine, and a majority of my friends, does not and will not make this blog post very popular, I think. But please allow me to explain why I hope this ruling happens.

At one point, my friends in biracial marriages would have been breaking the law by marrying. To me, that is wrong. We are all human beings.

At one point, my Autistic friends - and other special needs friends - would have been barred from marrying because they could have been labeled "retarded" by some laws. This is wrong. We are all human beings.

At one point in time, my Asian descent friends would have been barred from marrying my white or black friends. This is wrong because, again, we all human beings.

At one point in history,  my husband's American Indian (he has more than I) ancestry could have blocked him from marrying me. This is wrong. We're human beings. And we love each other.

I could keep going on, but I would hope that within these very short paragraphs you are seeing my pattern of thought.

The main thing that I have in common with all of my friends who have gotten married is that we love our spouses, not matter the color of our skin or neurology. Love is love.

To us, and to me especially, we cannot fathom preaching equal rights for our son and citizens just like him (meaning Autistics and other special needs people) without also advocating for equal rights for our other loved ones. It just seems right. How can I ever say that I want my son to be able to attain rights others have, but then say my neurotypical friends cannot? Because I'm "morally" opposed to it? This isn't murder. This isn't stealing. Religion, to me, shouldn't enter into this discussion. This is love.

So, this is me, putting my feelings for equal marriage rights out there. Whether you stand with me or not, that is your prerogative.

*I will be moderating comments for this article because, frankly, I don't want to hear negativity.I will publicly shame your ass if you want to issue death threats to my family and me, thanks! I feel like I'm putting enough out there to begin with. If you disagree with me on this one issue, that's fine. I'm being respectful with my opinion, please be respectful with yours. Thank you. 

*Editor's note: As of today, June 26, 2013, PROP 8 and most of DOMA was overturned. Marriage equality, people. Love is love. Carry on.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Some firsts of sorts

Even though it's early for a list, this summer, we have had some "firsts" in our home. They might not be the same milestones other parents would celebrate, but we sure do. We believe in celebrating big and small things with slight abandon in our little family, so here they are:

Morgan tried on clothes in a dressing room- by himself. No real prompting needed. I'm not sure if this is an age thing or what, but he picked out the clothes independently, he tried them on, and he was patient as we went through the process.

Without a mom interfering or making plans for them, Morgan and Bailey were invited over and went to a friend's home. This friend, an excellent NT boy around Morgan's age had them over to watch a movie one day after the pool. His older sister was there to supervise. I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself for that hour and a half of quiet time. They live right underneath us, so I mopped my floors, kept very quiet and tried to keep an ear out for... well, anything. Guys, nothing happened. It was uneventful. They had a good time and the boy's older sister said that all three kids were very well behaved. Iknowright?
Happy taste buds.

Morgan tried (and liked!) a new food! His daddy brought home about 10lbs of fresh Gulf shrimp. Oh, they were so good. Anyways, Morgan hates shrimp. Or, he did. We boiled up about four pounds the first night and that kid ate what I gave him... and had seconds! Then, last night, I made another shrimp meal (see picture, please). He ate shrimp again.

This child hasn't had shrimp since he was about a year and a half old, at my mom's wedding. This might not sound like a huge deal, but we live in a coastal area. The other three members of this family love shrimp. This is huge.

Bailey is now swimming underwater, no floaties, in the shallow end! I'm so proud of him. He's "deep end shy," so he will get out of the pool and request his floaties if he wants to swim with his brother, but this is great progress.
I'm so proud of him!

Morgan, completely unprompted, and without us showing him hand over hand, began trimming his nails and toenails. The child who, up until two years ago, needed gummies or some form of bribery and up until three months ago complained and sometimes cried no matter how careful I was, has decided to take this rather big step in self grooming. I was floored when I looked up the other morning and saw this:
My kid... cutting his toenails. WOW.

This is the first summer I've ever been able to relax a bit when out with my children. I don't fear the unknowns so much. I'm allowing their wants to guide me. Sound a bit crunchy-granola to you, too? I'm a complete helicopter mom, this won't lessen any. However, this is the first summer I've sat back and allowed the kids to be in the pool and not been hovering right on top of them at all times. This isn't to say that I walk off and leave the kids alone. I just mean that I'm not micromanaging their every move. It's kind of nice. Granted, I'm saying "no" to Bailey just as much, but here's hoping that this will lessen as well.

And, for the most important "first" of the summer:

Morgan's reading. As in, he's reading and not stumbling about 90% of the time. The reading program he's only been in since May 30 seems to be working! He's comprehending (it appears) what he's reading. He's wanting to read. A year ago, I didn't know if I would ever write that sentence or hear myself say that out loud. He actually took a book inside of the bathroom to read the other day (I know, TMI, but we're joking he's now a "man"... also, I'm never touching that book again). He's wanting to read to his little brother during story time before bed.

Some of these are things might sound completely silly to report on, but they're important to us. We're all about the celebrations in the Deciphering house!

Monday, June 10, 2013

He's Worth Knowing

I've gotten to the point where I almost hate writing posts like this. Where I'm coming off as mildly melodramatic because my son has been mistreated and I know I'm probably going to get an email, or comment, or two about how "kids will be kids" and treat each other like crap sometimes. But then, I think that if just one parent of a typical child reads this and teaches their child that it's not okay to treat a child like mine in any way but like someone worth getting to know, then my goal with writing is complete.

We went to the pool. Kids were there, kids around both of my kids ages. Yay! Right? No.

There were two boys who were older than Morgan, but the same size. Morgan has a hard time gauging age with other children. Most children, most boys, his age are smaller than him. He really does not care, but for some reason, he is gravitating to the older boys. This can sometimes spell danger.

I had been talking to these boys' moms about, ironically, an IEP for one of the boys. I walked back to my lounge chair and witnessed Morgan's interaction with these boys. God, it was painful. He was trying to tell them jokes, talk to them about Roxy (our dog); he was wanting so badly to friend them and they were going in between ignoring him and making fun of him. In the worst way possible: covert teasing.

Morgan seemed pretty oblivious to their teasing, to their making fun of his voice (he's both nasally and monotone), to them calling him fat. However, I wasn't. I was shooting them daggers to let them know while I was trying to figure out what to do. I've been trying to take a step back this summer and not engage so much on my son's behalf, to allow him to find his own footing socially because I know this is the age when most typical kids do that. At least, I seem to remember doing that.

But Morgan's Autistic, so the line for this seems blurred, to me.

The boys kept up their jerky behavior and I'd had enough. I got into the water and swam over, hoping that my presence alone would deter their stuff. It didn't. I told Morgan to show me how he could swim underwater so that I could talk to the boys. I didn't want to embarrass him.

"Hey, he's Autistic, eight years old, and just trying to make friends with you. How would YOU like it if YOUR brain was wired differently and people made fun of YOU and you weren't aware of it?" 

One of them, shame faced, answered, "I wouldn't like it."

"Nope, you wouldn't, and I'm his mom. Think about how it feels for me to see you do that. It sucks for me to watch kids be jerks to him. Do you want me to tell your mom? I'm not asking you to play with him... I'm telling you to treat him with dignity and respect. He's smart, he's nice to you, and he's worth knowing."

They apologized to me and sort of tried to play with him. But it didn't last long. About twenty minutes after that, I heard one of them- in front of his dad- ask, "Hey, where's the fat stupid kid?" Before I could react, his dad slapped him upside the back of his head. I silently cheered the dad in my head. I don't condone kids getting slapped, but wow. How dense can you be?

My message to parents reading this is to talk to your children. You might think that your child won't treat my child like those kids did, but your child might. 

Your attitude about what is acceptable behavior toward other people sets the bar for your child. 

Teach your children that people who are "different," people like my son, are worth knowing. They are worth treating with respect at all times. Just like your child is worth knowing. Just like your child is worth treating with respect. 

Morgan would do it for your child. Think about that. 

Think, too, about if you want your child to be "that kid" who ostracizes a child with differences. Do you want to be "that parent" who silently condones it by nothing?  This isn't about leading a crusade, this is about setting an example and doing the right thing. 

Our children are worth the effort to get to know. 

Life is lonely. You never know, my child could be your child's future best friend. Think about it. 


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Missing out, or is he?

While Morgan and his brother were playing in the pool other day, I was in conversation with a woman whose nephew is Autistic, around seventeen years of age, I think. She was talking about how withdrawn her nephew was at Morgan's age and even now. That it's painful to watch him hang out around other kids because he doesn't seek them out.

I pointed out that Morgan doesn't really do that, either. He'd, while we were talking, moved away from a group his brother was gravitating to and was doing his own thing. He was completely in his own little water world and content. 

"But aren't you ever worried that he's missing out?" she asked me.

I knew what she meant by her question. I got it and yes, I worry that Morgan is missing out on camaraderie by not having a lot of friends. But the thing is, I know that he probably couldn't handle having a lot of people over at once. We've tried that, multiple times. Morgan just works better one on one. And even then, the situation can be dicey.

How many kids his age are going to want to play Thomas the Tank Engine? Or watch the same video over and over?  He's recently gotten into playing Mario Kart, so there's something that he could do with someone else.

I've been mulling over her question for most of the week. When I think of my son living his life, even now, and people ask me things like "aren't you afraid he's missing out?" in reference to a "normal" childhood, I have to say "no." 

What's this "normal" thing, anyway? What is it?

Is it growing up with a loving family, a couple of friends, and a dog? My son has that.

Playing Angry Birds? Swimming like a fish? Having a sleepover? We can check those off of our list.

Going to an amusement park? Going to the beach? Going on vacations? We've done them all.

We're not allowing something like Autism to stop Morgan from doing a single thing, so it's a bit confusing to me when people think he's missing out on something he might not even be interested in. I know he wants friends, so I encourage him to make one really good friend.

I've found, in life, that's really better to have a few really great experiences than a lot of mediocre ones. Morgan, I feel, is living his young life to the fullest that he can for now. He's eight years old. Things will change. My thinking about this probably will, too.

I used to think that, because Morgan is Autistic, his life would be interrupted. I was wrong. Morgan's life is his life. It's like no one else. Just like mine. There is no normal, not even with me. Especially when it comes to my life, when it comes to considering my childhood. But that's something to talk about for another time. Compared to my childhood, Morgan's is idyllic.

Missing out implies that there is something better out there. That Morgan is hurting in some way because his life might not be whole as a result of being Autistic. I refuse to see things like that. Morgan's a happy kid, all things considered.

Especially when we're in the pool, or at the beach, or playing with shaving cream. He's good.

Photo by: Ryanne Photography

Photo by: Ryanne Photography
Photo by: Ryanne Photography

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sometimes, He's "Just a Boy"

Sometimes I forget that Morgan is "just" an eight year old boy. That, like an eight year old boy, he's going to exert his independence and ask to do things, just like any other boy his age. See, he does some things that are not "age appropriate," and sometimes my head mistakenly gets wrapped all up in that. This is a parenting fail on my part. Morgan is very good about putting me in my place when this happens. Last night was such an occasion, though it was juxtaposed by him clinging to me as well.

He's still my boy.

Morgan's growing like crazy ( He's currently, we think, around 5'2 and about 105lbs) and clothes shopping is an issue. Or, it is now. He must try things on. I've been hesitant to do this. Gah. Textures? Smells? Gross dressing rooms? Just... no. However, since he's no longer wearing his school uniforms and in need of summer clothes, he needed a to go shopping. Thankfully, he doesn't hate clothes.

We went to Target. I love that store. So pretty. So organized. Nate Berkus has his stuff there. Sorry, I digress. I struck a deal with the big kiddo, "Try on clothes and check out trains, k?" We selected some shirts he liked, all in this really great thin material (thank you, Target!), and some shorts. We headed off to the dressing rooms. And then the big kid emerged.

"Mom, you stay here. RIGHT HERE. You can't see me almost naked. K?"

"Um, okay? I'll wait right outside. See, right here? But you have to let me know how each thing fits, okay? AND DON'T WALK OUT OF THE DRESSING ROOM WITHOUT PANTS!" It was a valid concern, alright?

Seriously? My kid just told me not come into a dressing room with him?! The same child who needs me to shampoo his hair? I know, I'm over sharing, but WOW. 

Y'all, he was great. Just awesome. He was even great when I had to exchange two pairs of short and get different sizes! No meltdowns. No tears.

Maybe I was projecting my own feelings of hatred for the dressing room onto my son. Morgan was just a champ in there.

When we walked out, I had to do some shopping of my own, in the ladies' department. Morgan proved to still be my little boy. He walked around with his arm around me, giving me kisses, totally not like other eight year old boys. At least not the other eight years I know.

Then, when we were at the cash register, he pulled a total Rico Suave on the cashier...

Bailey to the cashier: "Oooh, I really like your store!"

Cashier: "Thanks! I think?"

Morgan: "I really like your eyes..." <as he batted his>

I'm going to have to put this kiddo on a leash... he's becoming too independent, lol.