Thursday, September 9, 2010

For Those Who Get It.

I've always been fascinated by people's reactions to Owen.  The first few years brought their share of blatant idiocy.  And there were some really sweet moments.

What I've noticed is that most Mommies of typical kids don't say anything.  And hardly any Daddies do. 

I get it.  Maybe guilt that their kids are 'normal'.  Maybe unsure about how to approach the issue.  Whatever.  I get it.

So last week at the playground, I was pleasantly surprised by Meat Head Guy.  You know the guy.  Black Harley shirt with the sleeves ripped off.  Cut off  denim shorts.  Several tattoos.  Shades.

His little girl was playing with Bea in the sandbox and Owen joined them.  Meat Head didn't hesitate to ask about Owen:

How much does he hear?

Does he sign?

Does his sister sign?

Where does he go to school?

He was as curious as you'd expect a child to be.  And listened intently to my explanations with the excited smile of a child.  He apologized for asking so many questions.

I reassured him, no apology necessary. His inquisitiveness made my day.

As did the reaction from a girl at work the other night.  We'd only worked together a handful of times, but hit it off right away.  She's smart, funny, sarcastic, bitchy.  Kindred spirit.

We were chatting about the start of the school year and I'd mentioned where Owen's school was.  She didn't understand why he went to school so far away;

"Oh.  He's Deaf."

"Oh!  Co-. I'm sorry I was gonna say Cool..."

"No!  Cool is awesome.  Cool is perfect.   I love Cool.  So much better than 'I'm sorry' or 'It's a shame', that shit pisses me off.  He IS cool.  Cool is perfect."

And she asked the usual questions and I gave her the usual rundown.

And the next morning, Bea and I were in the check out line at WalMart. In front of us was a beautiful boy, fourteen years old I'd say, with sandy hair, big blue eyes and a generous sprinkling of freckles.  The first thing I noticed was that he was beautiful.  Like stop and stare beautiful.

As I stared, I took in the whole boy;  a bit of a far away look in his eyes, not talking, always smiling, and keeping in constant contact with his mother.

He'd thread his fingers through hers, stroke her arm, nuzzle her chest.  Always smiling.  Mommy smiling too.

My best guess about this boy?  Autism.

Mommy noticed me noticing them.  Without Owen in tow, she couldn't recognize me as a card carrying member of the Mommies Of The Especially Needy.

I didn't know how to tell her that I got it.

So I just smiled a smile that I hoped conveyed that understanding

Not. Pity.

And as we stood waiting, as he hugged his Mommy, and as he stroked her arm as if she were his favorite pet, the softest thing he ever felt; I wondered if Bea noticed that there was something different about this boy.

She did.

"Mommy?  You see that boy?"

Oh no.

"Yes Sweetie, I do."

"He really loves his Mommy."

"Yes he does Sweetie.  He really does."

And the Mommy noticed.

And we smiled.


  1. Does my daughter's penchant for turning every second of her life into a dramatic episode worthy of a Shakepearean stage production count as anything?

    Didn't think so.

  2. I hate it when people ask me about Jack's Deafness with a "poor you"pity look. The other day we were in a shop and he did not have his hearing aids on. This idiot behind the counter barked something at him and I said, he cannot hear you. He is deaf. And she said öh you poor think" and I said "He is deaf, he is not dying..""

  3. Bea is so freakin' sweet. Love that story. :)

  4. Dude I'm just trying to relax and drink my wine and I mosey over here and BAM. you make me teary. again. great post.

  5. We never see any of our autism peeps out and about. Where are those 1 in 110? Locked away in a tower like Jane Eyre? I hate it when Audrey is the only one letting her freak flag fly at WalMart.

  6. O is cool and so is B

    I love the story of the dad asking questions- I love that his little girl saw her dad doing that- she's pretty lucky to have a dad like that.

  7. You and I are SO alike on this one. I mean, really, I would so much rather you ask me a million questions than just stare and feel sorry for me or even worse, avoid us all together.

    Like you, when I spot someone I think might be "in the club" I just smile wide. Smiles are always worse than pity-face.

  8. Something that bothers me - and maybe it's just me - is when I hear people say, "I'm so blessed to have a healthy with no disabilities."

    Um...ALL children are blessings...and those lucky souls that have a child with a "disability" that society labels them with - well, they are especially blessed.

    That's just my opinion.

    I've worked in the medical field off and on - have worked with children & adults who had all sorts of "diagnosis" that could be termed a disability. I personally dislike the term myself - because most of "those" people - are hellava lot smarter, nicer and GENUINE than those out there (myself included) who seem to be "normal". apologies.

  9. What is it with people this week writing shit that pulls at my heart strings?

    dammit woman. I'm going back to my imaginary stripper pole and all this sweet and genuine stuff out of my head.

    love you.

  10. I love you. We still sort of pass for typical when we are out at stores and whatnot because Hannah is locked in the truck part down below, and trying to get out like anyone else. We do get looks at the hand brace or kinesio taping we are trying because that seems to make everyone think "burn" and that is something people are willing to ask about, but not limpng or foot dragging.

  11. As you know, people who don't get it sorta drive me crazy.

    First class of my last semester tomorrow... This sort of writing will get me through it.

    Gotta go get dressed so I can go hang out w/ my sweet kooky students.

  12. If you're such a bitch, why did this make me smile so much? And you have a whole lot of bitchy followers, too.



  13. Why can't we have a secret handshake or something?

    We need one.

    It is becuase of L that I read blogs like yours and get more understanding of different things and that is just one of the many many ways she has changed my life

  14. You know what I are an awesome mom!

  15. I just want to say that you have helped me help my kids to be more understanding and kind to people that have special needs. I know sorta know, what to say when they ask and what not to say.

  16. I absolutely love the way you tell your stories.
    I look forward to your posts! You never know what assortment of emotions you'll feel when you read one of your posts! LOL It's awesome.

  17. I have goosebumps! I love this story!

  18. I get you. Not as a mommy but as a teacher who loves her little ones in school...I'm a special ed teacher when I am not a stay at home mom. Much like Owen's teachers feel about school kids are in my heart!

    In a similar way, it kinda drives me nuts when people tell me that it takes a special person to work with special needs students. I normally just reply that it takes a special person to work with general ed students b/c they tend to make me want to drink. A LOT. A lot of HARD alcohol. Repeatedly.

    Give me a class of special needs kids and I am far more comfortable and happy with them. They have the sweetest souls of any kids out there. And there is far less asshole behavior going on than in any general ed class I've ever been in.

    And it is cool to have a deaf kid...especially b/c you can talk shit about assholes right in front of them and they are none the wiser!

  19. you should start saying to people that say oh I'm so sorry when they find out your kid is deaf- No- Actually im sorry for you. Because people are missing out on all of these great and amazing human experience thats you have. I know there are a lot of tough things but man, the good is good- and bea is such an awesome little kid!

  20. fyi - this girl? "She's smart, funny, sarcastic, bitchy.  Kindred spirit." My Kinda People!  Heh. Anyway - I do not know where you coming from specifically on this subject, as my kids are in your "normal category" (except the 5 year old, he's half cross eyed, anyway) - but I do try to teach them to be respectful. You know, not just stare at someone who may look different, but ask questions. I think anyone would rather have a discussion about themselves than just be stared at. So we see kids (or even adults) in wheelchairs, and if they're close enough, we try to talk. Sometimes they're pissy - sometimes they're grateful for the honesty. Point is, stuff like this here post? Makes me hope I'm doing ok in teaching my kids to be politely curious :p

  21. As a sister to one of them, I hope I can also be on the "good side of the divide."

  22. what a rad post!!! such a good story.

    i am afraid i have been that person that didn't know what to say. i hope i just smiled and didn't ask questions. i hope.

    i think many of us are clueless in life about so many things, and we have the opportunity to make things worse by opening our big yaps. i am pretty sure i have done that before. d'oh. must live and learn from this!!!!!

  23. I'm a mom to a disabled little boy who doesn't look like he is. Unfortunately, there are very few people in our lives who "get it"...even most of our extended family doesn't get it. Ah, well. If they can't see how lucky they are to know my little guy, fuck 'em.

    Thanks for hitting the nail on the head yet again!

  24. Your co-worker is cool. You're cool, too.

  25. My youngest daughter has been in a wheelchair all of her life. Older sister - OCD and over-protective of all her siblings - would growl at people who would stare at my PoohBear. Growl and say "What is your PROBLEM don't STARE". Even when the starers were 3-4 years old. She's matured - a little - now that she is in her 30's but she still has a tendency to make snide comments when people stare.

    As a result, I think, I have rarely gotten the "poor baby" routine. The other three kids have always rallied around PoohBear and treated her like - duh - one of the kids. Really, their love for her is so obvious that it's impossible for people to feel sorry for her. That and she's always smiling. She is an angel, exuding innocence and acceptance and unconditional love.

    I wouldn't change a thing.

    BTW, she also has a feeding tube like Owen used to have. It's been a life saver for her for nearly 20 years. I have wanted to share with you my latest tube-replacement nightmare story, wondering if you have ever had a problem with getting the tube replaced. I've only had an issue maybe 10 times in 20 years, but this last time, totaly nightmare. Still haven't been able to write about it yet.

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  27. I fucking love you! You are just incredible. And absolute inspiration. I hope I can be half the mommy you are some day!

  28. Normally your posts make me laugh. This one made me cry. The ugly cry. The good ugly cry. The one that makes my husband freak out and go buy me ice cream.

    I know so many people that should read this post.

  29. I clicked on your link from SITS and have really enjoyed snooping around your blog. Your who, what, when, where, how and deaf pages are perfect. And the whoa page just really hits home. Wow! And this is another beautifully pitched post. I'm so glad I was after you at SITS :-)

  30. This brought a tear to my eye. Your son is so sweet and that comment had to have made the other mommy feel good. It's a strange position to be on both ends. I know what would be okay for other people to say to us, but I still don't know what to say to others.

  31. I love how strangers can completely make your day.

  32. 2nd post in and I officially love you. And Bea. She is sweet and because she is a sibling of a special kid, she is growing up a better person. Not that she wouldn't be better but you know what I mean. She GETS it and always will.

    I HATE pity. My son is not dying or dead. he is cool and awesome and just happens to have Autism. And my boy? devastatingly beautiful and he really, really loves his mommy.

  33. Hi! It's my first time visiting here, and you hooked me! I just want to hug you!

    And I'm with's fantastic that a complete stranger can make your day.

  34. Great post - it does sound Owen is the coolest. And who knew Meat Head guy would get it?? I have to admit, I WANT to get it but am so careful about treading softly that I'm the one who ends up being mute. So this was educational for me - a new and wonderful perspective. Thank you.

  35. Absolutely. LOVE. This.

    Sometimes wisdom and understanding come packaged in the oddest ways; it's a beautiful thing to know that there are still people who ask questions because they care.

  36. Your son is deaf? Cool :)

    My first visit but I love this post, well writte and informative to me that don't really know any 'especially needy' people!

    I'll be back :)

  37. I cannot tell you how much you have opened my eyes since I began reading your blog. I dont even know that I have ever been in the room with a deaf child, but I now know what I will do when I am.
    Love this post.

  38. That is about me.

    So perfectly about me.

    Except in this small town, people stare and make me want to peel my son's arms off of me.

    Awful, I know.

    I know.

    But he is almost as tall as as I am. And he is long and thin and with the most beautiful, carved face ever.

    But, yes, he hangs, and hugs, and plays silently, except for the occasional quick grin, with anything dangling.

    Yes, that is about me.


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