When Big Kid got so sick a little over a year ago, I really had the smug knocked out of me in dozens of different ways. I confidently thought that I could handle most any hits that came our way, as long as I could put on my killer bunny slippers and kick butt.
Pre-H1N1, I used to watch the news and tragedies across the world in a somewhat detached manner. I would send up a prayer to the ether for the victims and their families because yes! what a horrible tragedy!, but would feel kind of superior watching 3rd World mothers wail, tear at their hair and faces and rend their clothes at the death of their children. That's not really the American Way, or maybe not the Anglo-Protestant Way. We're civilized and have better control of ourselves.
Stupid, superior Me.
That whole month when Big Kid hung between life and death on life support, minute to minute, I finally got it. The primal urge to rail against the helplessness, the hopelessness. The physical need to tear at myself, to let loose, to howl, to scream out my fear and grief.
Of course, if I had done that at his bedside, I would have probably been sedated and introduced to a nice soft hotel room with a sportcoat that ties in the back for my own protection. Because that's the way it is in our culture.
It was a very humbling experience.
Since then, this past year, I've tried to be more understanding of people's circumstances, to be less judgmental. I'm still very raw, and cry at the drop of a hat. Lost and found Doggy on the news? That's a crying. The tragedy in Japan? That's a daily crying. Geico commercial? That's a crying too. I've cried at real and stupid stuff more in the last year than I have in my previous 44 years. I guess having doctors tell you that your child is dying and they can't do anything more for him will do that to you.
But I guess I'm not done with being taught humble lessons.
Little Guy, who has Autism, has had a pretty crappy year. I talked a little about how his Fall Semester at our local high school was a bust, and how his and a few other transitional students' rights had been violated under IDEA. I was able to secure an extra semester(he ages out of the system next month) to make up for the lack of services, but I'm not going to get into it here. If anyone wants a private run-down, feel free to email me.
Last week, he came home with a flyer that advertised a "social" for adults who have disabilities down in the city. We live in the mountains, and there isn't any such activities here. Since Hubby was going to be out of town, and Little Guy really wanted to go, I made arrangements with Big Kid and Kitty (his girlfriend) to take them out to dinner while Little Guy attended this shin-dig.
This event is held monthly at the city's Senior Center (had no idea!). The place was packed. Tons of young people his age (the event is for 16 and older). I got Little Guy checked in, made sure of a place and time to meet (he didn't want his old mom hanging around) and went off to dinner.
I came back a half hour before the party was scheduled to end. There were a lot of parents/caregivers etc sitting around the foyer, which was very large. I came in, sat down and waited. Little Guy breezed through, we chatted a minute, and he went back into the event room to mingle and dance.
This incredibly gorgeous and well-groomed man stopped by and asked me how it was going. I looked around. Was he talking to me? Frumpy me? I said fine, how are you? Laughed. Said I was waiting for my son. Assumed he was a parent, a sibling, a caregiver waiting for someone too.
He sat down next to me and introduced himself. I told him who I was and said "it's nice to meet you".
He said, "this week is my birthday, I'm going to be 45". I congratulated him (while thinking it was a little weird to tell a complete stranger that). Looked at his ring finger to see if maybe there was another half to this Adonis. No ring (and no, I didn't forget there was a ring on MY finger!).
He went on, "Last year I was 44 and the year before that I was 43. Can you names things that they have at a birthday party?" So for the next 15 minutes we came up with everything we could think of (ponies, clowns, pirates, cake, presents) that could possibly be appropriate at a party. Then Little Guy found me and told me he was ready to go home. I shook hands with the gentleman and told him again how nice it was to meet him. "Will you be here next month?" he asked hopefully. I said I just might.
All the way home I mentally kicked myself. I like to pride myself on being a fairly astute person, but I guess I still let my assumptions lead the way. Humble pie.
Little Guy had a fabulous time. He didn't ask anybody to dance, but danced with himself to the songs he liked. Since Hot Cutie (his girlfriend) wasn't there, he didn't want to be a "scumbag" and dance with anybody else. I explained that since Hot Cutie doesn't like these kind of activities, and doesn't like dancing (and he does), I didn't think it would be a bad thing to dance with other people "as friends". He pondered it a minute or two and decided that "next time" he'd ask some of the girls who were sitting on the sidelines. LOL