Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G is for Gift








On day 7 of the A - Z Challenge, G is for Gift


When my boys were younger, I always felt I had to explain to people that they were autistic when they weren't behaving.  And in the early years, Michael was really tough.  David had his moments as well, but Michael was a terror.  It wasn't until someone said to me 'Different is a gift' that I began to look at things in a new light.

I started an ebay business when the boys were young as my husband and I felt it was more important for me to be home with them.  I would routinely take them to the post office when I dropped of my orders.  Sometimes Michael would be impatient if we had to stand in line.  One particular day, he was walking around the counter. He wasn't crying or being overly disruptive, just walking around and around the counter which was like an island in the middle of the room.  There were about a half a dozen people in line.  An older woman looked at me and snottily remarked, "what an ill-behaved little boy!"  But that day, I was in no mood.  Instead of meekly apologizing for something that wasn't even apology-worthy, I looked her straight in the eye and retorted, "He's autistic, what's YOUR excuse?" If she had been able, I think she would have crawled under the cabinet.  She was next in line, completed her transaction and hurried out.  A couple of others in line snickered. The postal clerk was a woman I had grown to know and she tried really hard not to laugh out loud.  Michael was only four it was one of the few times he really wasn't acting that badly.  That woman would have had a stroke if she saw him in a full blown meltdown!

We visit upstate NY a couple of times a year and have made some wonderful friends in Sharon Springs and Cooperstown.  During one of the Garden Festivals in Sharon Springs we were speaking with Josh Kilmer-Purcell, one of the Fabulous Beekman Boys.  We were discussing some of the challenges and concerns we had with the boys.  One of things I brought up was how different they were and Josh looked me right in the eye and said, "Different is a gift.  Different is good." And I will never forget that.  I think that conversation actually changed some of my perspective and I cannot thank Josh enough for making me look at things a little more optimistically.  He proceeded to talk with David and Michael about what subjects they liked in school and when he heard that Michael liked maps, he marched us right into the Beekman mansion and showed Michael the old maps of Sharon Springs that were hanging on the living room wall.  They were thrilled (as was I) to get a peek inside Josh's beautiful home!


Josh (Fabulous Beekman Boys), David, Michael & me with the Beekman Mansion in the background.
David and Michael ARE different. And it's good.  They are polite and loving.  They may try my patience, but know how to behave when we are out.  They are little learning sponges.  They don't worry about having the popular sneakers and clothes.  They are probably the only kids in their school without Facebook or a smartphone.  They value family.  They watch out for each other. 

We have learned autism isn't the end of the world.  David and Michael may think and act differently, but maybe Josh was right and it is a gift.  No one is perfect, not even the "normal" kids.  Everyone is a work in progress.  We couldn't love David and Michael any more or be any more proud of their accomplishments.  And we continue to work on the little 'glitches' that need to be fine-tuned...Doesn't everyone?

10 comments:

  1. I think that's the hardest thing. Trading your expectations and realizing different is good. My oldest is different. Mood disorder or ADHD or we don't even really know. But he has meltdowns and aggression and anger. But he is also so full of drive. He's a talented gymnast, because he puts his ALL into everything he does. More than anyone I know. Different is good. I would have wanted to slap that lady in the store. I've gotten those comments before, and it's aggravating because people never really know what's going on in other people's lives.

    I had one lady tell me in the mist of one of C's meltdowns, "You're a good mom. He's a spirited child. It will get easier." Great advice that I needed. I wanted to hug her!!!

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    1. Its funny how with the disabilities/disorders etc, there are some strong strengths and drives. It has always been encouraging to me when someone is kind and understanding! xoxo

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  2. What a great topic! We are ALL different - we have things that people appreciate about us and those things that drive our friends and family up the wall. Those that are intolerant usually don't disappoint, if you know what I mean. Congratulations on sharing your family with us on your blog. I enjoyed finding your blog, through the A to Z challenge. Keep up the good work! www.dianeweidenbenner.com

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    1. Hi Diane - I know exactly what you mean and intolerance doesn't always come from strangers either. I'm glad you enjoyed reading, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! xoxo

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  3. Love that you met Josh and had such a positive experience!(enjoyed his books and Amazing Race win)

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    1. Josh & Brent are two of the nicest people! We usually see them when we get to upstate NY. Love their store and they are always so nice to talk to - We were so thrilled when they won the Amazing Race. One night we were out to dinner and Josh came over and sat with Michael for a few minutes and they played a history Q&A game that was on an app on Michael's iPad.

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  4. Congratulations on your lovely family. You sound like you are a wonderful mom who has really great kids to show for it.

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    1. Thank you so much and thanks for stopping by and commenting! I really am proud of the young men my sons are becoming! xoxo

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  5. Words of wisdom! Sounds like you got a real gift that day.
    Maui Jungalow

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    1. We sure did! Was nice to have a fresh perspective! xoxo

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