My youngest son is autistic. Yep, there, I said it! Out loud and for everyone to know. He is different than I am, than you are, than most people are. He’s almost 14, as tall as I am ( though that may not being saying much since I am not all that tall) and becoming quite a young man.
I think about our judgement on people just by quick appearance. To look at my son, he appears “normal” In fact, my favorite comment has always been ” he doesn’t LOOK autistic”
It’s a struggle to fit in when you are so different from most people. Harder still, when you don’t know you are different. I watch as he tries to talk to people. I see their reaction when he recites some line from a movie or you tube video he has watched. Usually, it is one of ???????? puzzled stare. Case in point. In the elevator at the baseball stadium ( game 5 A’s vs. Tigers) . My son turned to the smartly dressed media type man (see, appearances being assumed by me/judgement by his clothes and I.D. lanyard hanging around his neck) and rattled off something in his rapid fire way. The poor man had no idea what my son said- just stood there, puzzlement on his face, then quiet relief as the elevator door opened and we parted ways.
I try not to judge people by quick appearance, but I know I do. I’m sure I am judged by others the same way. I bet they wonder why I don’t just go home and take a nap- I clearly look tired! Some days I wonder that about me too.
So I try to help my son with ways to “fit in” to look less autistic, to become “normal”. Maybe if I can teach him that people wont judge him. But, then again , if he’s like everyone else, wouldn’t we miss his uniqueness? That which makes him special? That which is pure joy?
Doing some family history research the other day I was reminded that we all come from somewhere else. For my family, my father’s mother was born in Italy, my mother’s “side” was from England. It’s fascinating to think that those people felt so strongly about leaving their homeland to forge a life so far from all they know. They left their family, friends familiar language and way of life to travel to the unknown. How courageous! My husband’s family-one grandpa came from Poland, the other side Germany/Ireland. So we mix and mingle and find our match among the different pieces of the box of family.
Having a family gathering one summer, sitting at the table with my mother in law (family origin German Irish), the conversation moved to family history. Her comment ” I wasn’t Polish until I got married” makes me laugh to this day. We each have our own identity given to us by way of birth, location and sometimes marriage. We take pieces of each part of our life and make them our own. Creating a patchwork of humanity.
My dear friend D. H-K has recently made a move to another state. All the formalities of creating a life in a new area show how we all are defined by where we come from. In filling out what I’m sure was yet another form, she had the question posed to her: “Filling out doctor’s form. Section says choose: Latino or Refused to Report or Undefined or Other…please fill in blank. I marked Other and wrote “Michigander”.
So how shall I define myself? English/Italian/Californian by birth, Polish/German/Michigander by marriage or other? I choose other- human.
Have you ever wondered where you fit in this world? Have you wondered what the BIG picture is? I sometimes think my world is a 200 piece puzzle and I am just one piece of it. In reality though, I think maybe we are all part of a bazillion piece puzzle and we are several pieces at the same time, in a never-ending puzzle. Sometimes our piece fits, sometimes it’s not quite right. Sometimes it is downright wrong. In the end, we find our matches and the picture becomes clear.
Where do you fit? What is your picture? Do you ever find tha t you get so involved in your 200 piece puzzle that you don’t see the big picture until you step back and look at it? Kind of like the forest for the trees?