My Big Second Grade Boy

My little boy is a big second grader. Finishing first grade was a struggle. I am so proud of him, and of myself, for pushing on through. I think he’s really enjoying thinking of himself as a second grader. He seems so confident in his abilities.

We ran by the library this afternoon to sign up for the summer reading program and we came home with a Batman book,  two Bob the Builder books,  and a Bad Kitty book. Well, who can go into the library and escape empty-handed? We really wanted to rent this one specific Bob the Builder book that has the audio CD with it, but they (*gasp*) didn’t have it! This book is very special to Javan as he has rented it many, many times over the years and he just looooooves audio books. Ms. Anne, one of our amazing children’s librarians who knows Javan and has watched him grow up, wanted so badly to help him find a good one. She found one of her favorite children’s books with audio and suggested it to Javan. I was so proud of his reaction. Although it was obvious that he was disappointed in not getting the book he wanted, and although he did not want the book that was being suggested to him, he was so polite. He simply said, “No, thank you. But I appreciate the offer.” My grown-up boy made his mama glow with pride.

Then, on the way home, two more big boy moments happened. I was explaining how the reading program works and prizes and all that stuff, and he said, “So I’ll read one of my readers every day!” He knows very well that being read to counts perfectly well at this age, but he offered up reading to me anyway. This is HUGE, ya’ll. AND…I heard him flipping through his Batman book trying to sound out all the “Bam” and “KaPow” sound words! He’s beginning to think of himself as a reader!

I’m so glad there are kind, loving, caring people in the world like Ms. Anne, who want to help children overcome disappointments and grow in character and learning. And then, of course, I am reminded that there is a flip-side of every coin. I’m already irritated at the number of people, adults, mind you, who feel the need to conversationally criticize my child for what they call “staring.” I know they mention it to him because it makes them uncomfortable, but still, he is becoming quite a good communicator (see above response to librarian) and I wish  people could just see that and not nit pick every little thing. He’s not staring. He’s making more eye contact than you deem appropriate, or more likely, he has paused and gone inside of himself to internalize the communication that has just transpired and he will rejoin you in a moment. In any case, here’s what I’d like anyone who is listening to take away from this little rant: If someone you are talking to or just find yourself near for whatever reason seems a little off in whatever way, don’t criticize or judge them. Smile at them and show acceptance. They don’t want to be “off,” they want to be normal. Adult, child, it does not matter. We all crave acceptance. Why not give it?

So, as I said, I’m already irritated by this when I go into the auto parts store to get a wheel bearing for my husband’s bike. We’re standing at the counter when an elderly woman who works there comes up to the counter and smacks it…twice…practically shouting at Javan, “Hey! Hey! Why you frownin’?” I guess this was her way of being friendly? Maybe she gets a happy response from typical children? I wouldn’t think so, but maybe. Well, he just “stares” at her, well real staring this time, and has absolutely no idea what he’s supposed to say. I try to let him answer for himself, but knew he was lost this time, so I prompted him…”Javan, were you frowning?” At least that would give him some sort of answer? He just shook his head no, dropped to the floor, and crawled away to a corner. She replied, “Rudie!” I was dumbfounded. She just called a six year old a name. He was being rude? I said, “My son is not rude. He’s autistic.” Looking back I should have said, “He isn’t rude. You scared him.” Because, although the speechlessness and crawling to a corner behaviors are what I consider autistic responses, the issue here was not his behavior but hers. Hindsight’s always 20/20 I guess. Of course after I told her that, she was apologetic and friendly, like with actual friendliness this time, and he was fine. I’m choosing to see progress in this situation. Javan did not scream, cry, hit or throw anything at the woman…a short time ago he would have. I didn’t hit her either. So there’s that.

And I don’t know where that leaves my message. Because, really, I can’t ask everyone to go around communicating with people as if everyone the meet might be autistic. I can’t ask people to change the way they interact with others just in case one of them is autistic, or special needs, or just sensitive. Or can I?

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dee Main
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 03:41:52

    yes, yes you can ask it of everyone you meet.

    Reply

  2. Annie Olson
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 16:46:14

    Oh my word! You and Javan both did great in that situation. I’m really proud of both of you! People can be so rude and insensitive sometimes, and there is NO excuse, not ever, for someone initiating a conversation in that manner with a child or adult or for calling names when someone reacts in such an obviously beaten-down way. You exercised extreme self-control.

    I’m reminded–though I’m not entirely sure why–of a time when I had Hero at the vet. She was in her later and more sedate years and had put on weight. An extremely overweight woman–and I mean EXTREMELY overweight–squeezed through the door into the clinic and checked in. She came over to say hi to Hero with the greeting, “You don’t look like you’ve missed many meals.” Hero didn’t understand the words, but she understood the tone and knew the woman was being mean and insulting. I was really, really mad. It took every ounce of self-control I had not to answer, “Lady, have you looked in the mirror lately???”

    Somewhat the same sort of situation. Grrrr

    Reply

  3. Jennifer
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 13:00:08

    Actually, that’s exactly what I think people should do…but I learned that the hard way! So proud for you guys at how well things went.

    Reply

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