Sometimes, when I am out with the guys, I get the feeling of being in a fishbowl. People sometimes notice my kids are different. Sometimes people look at Joey askance. Am I dreaming it? Am I over-sensitive? Is it just me?
And every time I start thinking, maybe it is just me, I find stuff like this.** And it isn't just the post- its the preponderance of comments supporting the post. It's not just one person being ignorant and judgmental, it's a whole crowd of them, who think it's funny. The point about teaching kids manners? I'm all over it. Making fun of someone who is teaching those manners, simply because they are in the middle of the lesson instead of at the end of it? Not. Cool.
And it is one of the reasons we don't go to the library much, to be honest. After all, Joey does a similar thing- he notes his small steps to success. "I'm being patient, Mom!" "Look, Mom, I am keeping my hands to myself!" "Mom! I am being nice to my brother!"
But let's leave that aside, and instead come to the park with me and the guys. The sun is warm, there are people laughing, kids playing. A young woman, somewhere in her teen years, comes up to Joey and waves for him to follow her. The way she holds her hands, her head, the over-extension of her joints, her difficulty with speech, all speak of special needs. Joey doesn't understand, I prompt him that the girl wants to play with him. They start a game of tag.
Some other young ladies, these girls may be fifteen, join in. The girl likes to tickle people. We tickle back. She likes Andy's new toy, and they play with it for a while, before he is distracted by another boy his own age. There is more tag, some hide-and-seek. Joey goes over to a bench where two moms are parked with their toddlers, and they let him play with a baby doll with their daughter. There is more running, some frisbee-tossing attempts, more tag, more tickling.
Are people thinking less of this young lady because she doesn't follow social rules? Because she flaps her hands, wants to play tag, likes to squeal when a dog barks? No, even the other teenagers here just join into the fun. Are people thinking less of my Joey, even though they can tell his speech in unusual, his social skills not quite on par? No, they let him be himself and join into the fun.
Compassion is a wonderful thing; acceptance is far more fun; and sunshine is for everybody to share and share alike. Everybody wins.
**Edit: If you really need to see the original post and comments, I have a PDF of the original post and comments, which have been removed from the original link. Or you can recall the original Google cached document yourself. But I don't recommend it. It really is depressing.
***Edit edit: Read this one instead. It's much better.