Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Lid for Every Pot

I've been taking a break from disability advocacy this summer to recharge my batteries for the upcoming year, so I haven't been making the activist blog rounds as much as I used to.

While the guys were away, an old friend of mine from the city we used to live in and her husband came to dinner. They'd just dropped off their daughter at camp for a week. There is a fabulous summer program up here in the mountains for kids and adults who have moderate disabilities and is only several miles from our town.

My friend and I, who I'll call "P" met when the kids were little---geez about 13 years ago.

We were among the few parents who were fighting for full inclusion for our kids in that school district, and had first met at a teacher's conference we were--um--auditing/infiltrating, where the main speaker stood up and told the teachers that they didn't actually have to meet the goals outlined on the students' IEPs and could just go through the motions, because there was no accountability practice in place.

P's daughter has Down Syndrome and is a couple of years older than Little Guy. I have so much admiration for her---she's a better asskicker than I am.

We kept in touch sporadically over the years, but last year I saw her daughter's name at the registration when we checked Little Guy into camp, and we hooked back up. This year, we made plans for an evening at our place.

So several weeks ago, over dinner and wine, I shared Little Guy's prom pictures, and P "oohed" and "ahhhed" over them. She discussed how she tried desperately to set her daughter up with another student for their prom, but it didn't work out.

We talked about the hope we both have that our children will find partners---someone to love and share their lives with. We talked about how hard opportunities for dating can be. I asked her if she knew of several couples I'd met through the years (the dis advocacy community here isn't huge) who have mutual disabilities, met, fallen in love and married.

She said, "I'm so glad to find another parent who feels like I do!"

Her husband cringed. He actually cringed. To be honest, I was a bit appalled at his behavior. She just rolled her eyeballs.

"He doesn't want our daughter to have sex! Ever!"

I've run into this kind of attitude among quite a few parents over the years. Thank HEAVENS hubby and I are in agreement with each other.

Of course in the minds of parents, our babies will be our babies forever, whether they have disabilities or not. Contemplate the fact that they are also beings who might one day want companionship, love and yes--- sex? The horror!

Recently I read a fabulous post from Jacqui at Terrible Palsy that addressed this topic. It totally freaked me out because it was very timely with stuff I've been thinking about. I got so verklempt that I couldn't even comment. She writes so very eloquently.

Little Guy now has a special friend who is a girl. They went to the prom together a few months ago. Since he's been back from his trip, they've gotten together for lunch and swimming dates. Fortunately her parents are on the same page in their quest for social opportunities, so we've all been pretty enthusiastic and supportive of this budding relationship.

I'll call her Hot Cutie, because as Little Guy has said, "she's smokin'!" She really is.

Like Little Guy, Hot Cutie has autism and some developmental delays. They are both somewhat high-functioning, and for the most part are developmentally in a similar range. I often wonder what they talk about, because although they "like" each other, they don't have a lot of interests in common.

One week Little Guy was obsessing a bit about getting hurt and crying. I think it's because of his injury to his hands and the fact that he was so proud of his bravery (ie: not crying). That week Hot Cutie was obsessing a bit about her church, because she had just come back from a retreat.

I played lifeguard and sat at the side of the pool with my book. It was pretty hard not to overhear though, because they both kept trying to include me in their conversation.

Little Guy: Have you ever smashed your fingers? Did you cry?

Hot Cutie: I smashed my toe once and it bled. I prayed and the pain went away.

Little Guy: Did it bleed all over the place? Did you cry?

Hot Cutie: I don't think I cried. But I healed fast. My mom says it's because I'm a Christian.

Little Guy: Have you ever poked your eyeball out? Would you cry?

Hot Cutie: I don't think so. God is watching over me with His eye.

Little Guy: My dog threw up yesterday. I threw up when I had the stomach flu. I had diarrhea too. Did you throw up when you were a little kid? Did you cry?

Hot Cutie: I don't get the stomach flu. I've been touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit and it protects me from throwing up and diarrhea.

[Lovely lovely topic of conversation here. God and Dooky]

Little Guy: A fire? Did you get burned in a fire? Did you cry?

Hot Cutie: No, but I don't like fire alarms. I get scared.

Little Guy: Me too! The one that scares me sounds like Whooot! Whooot! Whooot!

Hot Cutie: The one that scares me sounds like "Weeeeee! Weeeeee! Weeeeee!"

Little Guy: Have you ever heard an alarm that sounds like "BWWWWWRRRAAAAA!! BWWWWRAAAAA!?" Did it make you so scared that you cried?

So the two of them went on mimicking fire alarms (in an eerily realistic fashion) for the next 15 minutes and laughed their asses off. Our dogs went nuts and ran all over the yard barking. Our neighbor's dog went nuts too. We live on the side of a valley, so I'm pretty sure that their antics were echoing throughout.

The neighbor to the left came out on his deck and called out, "Is everything all right?"

I assured him that it was.

After a couple of hours of swimming, and then Taco Bell, we drove Hot Cutie home. I pulled up in front of her house, which has a closed gate at the front of a long drive. Her family has a couple of VERY large dogs that look scary as all get out, but are actually big noodles.

Little Guy (opening his door): Wait there, I have to let you out.

Hot Cutie: I can get out myself.

Little Guy: No, I'm being a gentleman. You have to wait for me to let you out.
She climbed across the seat and got out on his side. They walked up to the gate and opened the latch together.

Little Guy: You have to walk up there fast, because I have to go to the bathroom and I have to make sure you get inside ok.

Hot Cutie: Do you want to use my bathroom?

Little Guy: No, I can wait.

Then he said....Can I have a hug?

She put her arms around him and said in a soft wondering voice...

You're my boyfriend!

As we were driving home, I couldn't help but think how blessed we are that Little Guy has found someone to spend time with. Will it last? Will she be "the one"? Who knows? I'm just grateful.

14 years ago, the "experts" told us that Little Guy would probably never be able communicate meaningfully. Now he's getting the wonderful experience of having a high school sweetheart.

Mom, are you crying? Are you sick? Do you have diarrhea?


Flamenco Mom said...

Oh my gosh, what an amazing post! I can totally hear that conversation between Little Guy and Hot Cutie in my head. Even though Zoe is a bit younger, I see her interactions with other autistic or developmentally disabled kids--and they go much the same way.

I'm with you--even though I try not to think that far ahead, I hope that she can someday develop a meaningful relationship with someone who will love and understand her. Your post today was truly touching.

Brenda said...

This mom is crying. What a dear, sweet, young man you've raised Miz ATM. You're so blessed!

Robbiegirl said...

Aw, bless him. That's so sweet. :)

Jacqui said...

The conversation just cracked me up. It must have been so hard to keep a straight face. Great post Attila.

Anonymous said...

That all happens because you've never capitulate, because you have each day be fighting for your kids. You're my hero :-)

Rootietoot said...

Who determines what communication is meaningful? Only the 2 in the conversation can decide that. I've made a new friend recently, and she has a 17 yr old son who's autistic (high functioning, mainstreamed in school and all). I'm looking to you for...whatever it is. Thanks for being here.

Northern_Girl said...

Sometimes what is not said has the most meaning.

Ann(ie) said...

That is so damn precious. I can imagine you are grateful and proud at your sweet boy and rightfully so. xo.

Happy Weekend, girlie.

Chris H said...

Awww that is just so sweet!!!! Be proud Mom, you should be. Have a neat weekend.

Anonymous said...

That's just beautiful. You are a great mom. I can't event think about that happening to my daughter. ack!!!

Scully's Moulder said...

Wow. What a great story. I think "P"'s hubby is a lil overprotective. Certanily, parents don't want to think about their kids having sex. It similar to thinking about one parents having sex. Not an image one wants, but one knows it's happening.

At any rate, kudos for the awesome post. Look forward to the next one. :)

Boricua in Texas said...

How sweet. I loved reading this post.

Anonymous said...

I loved loved loved this post. I am so happy for Little Guy--And for Hot Cutie! I am glad that they have found their "other half" in the world, for now :] You have raised two wonderful "men" so I know they will find their "soulmates" in this world :]

Have a great weekend!

Queen of the Mayhem said...

What funny and sweet story!

That sounds like many a conversation I had with my friends!

We tend to hop around a bit! :)

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful that your son hung in there until they found something in common (the siren sounds) and had a good laugh.

He sounds like a wonderful young man with beautiful manners.

Anonymous said...

I'd say Little Guy and his girlfriend are getting along just fine! I don't think it's necessary to have the same interests to have a good relationship. After all, there are lots of couples where the guy talks about sports all the time, while the girl chatters about her friends, but they enjoy being together anyway.

Samantha said...

Oh my God, that's adorable! It's so sweet.

Unknown said...

A very nice post!

MoonNStarMommy said...

Awwwwwww that was so sweet and charming... thanks for sharing that with us.....even though mine are high functioning kids with disabilities... and we still don't know 100% what the future holds for either...Your son is sweet.... what does he think of the whole "girlfriend" thing??

carmachu said...

Awww, that is so incredibly sweet.

But yeah, I have to run with the other father. *I* dont to think about my daughter having sex.....not that I wont teach her and such....but I cant say I welcome the idea,....

Big Pissy said...

What a great post!

I felt like I was there in the conversation. :)

I'm also a little teary eyed....

Nightmare said...

I don't have diarrhea, but that post was so Sweet I think I have Diabeteas!

Gonzo said...

This is sooo sweet! It's always touching to hear conversations like that...!

I was on holiday break last month (just came back home) and youngest DS met another Asperger-boy. It was so beautiful to hear them talk together, and I recognize your posting so much! I'm not such an emotional type of mom, but this brought tears in my eyes...

Anonymous said...

First off, I've been trying to comment on your blog lately and it hasn't been working for me. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it works this time because, aside from the vomiting and diarrhea story, this was just about the sweetest "love" story I've heard in a long time!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post... best wishes to Little Guy and his cutie!

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much this post means to me and how happy I am for you Little Guy. I think all people, disabled or not, want to be loved or "in love." And they should. Melanie is constantly saying how noone will ever love her because she is a freak, and it breaks my heart and it is so not true. She is so beautiful, but High School is so full of ass holes. I can tell her a million times, but it is the feedback from peers that counts at this stage. I just hope and pray,that soon she will see and know, that she is beautiful inside and out, is not a freak, and is worthy of being someone's girlfriend.
Thank you for this post. Thank you for you. XOXO

phlegmfatale said...

That is just the best post! I'm so happy for little guy that he has open-minded parents who want him to understand and experience the best life has to offer. He can do it, with the loving support of such incredible parents. :)

Ruth Dynamite said...

Readers? Are you crying? Are you sick? Do you have diarrhea?

Yes - and for the very best reasons. Yea Little Guy! (Little man?) Love conquers all.

Claire said...

Awwwww Atilla that's just too adorable for words! What a lovely post, you've cheered me right up!

Jana B said...

Hey, two people who can combine religion and poop into a conversation? DEFINATELY meant to be!!!

KrisMrsBBradley said...

Just found your blog and I'm going through and reading. I have an 11 year old son with high functioning autism. I often worry that when he's ready, he will have a hard time finding a sweetie.

Thank you so much for posting this story and sharing your life here. It's really comforting to see how your son has found a lasting relationship (some Hollywood marriages don't last half this long, lol).


GollyGumDrops said...

What a wonderful, inspiring piece of life. It's tough for everyone to think about kids getting into relationships, but it's such a core part of the human experience it's just wrong to deny it to anyone. Go Little Guy!