Wednesday, July 25, 2007

BE KIND TO MY DAUGHTER - Or I will hunt you down.

My kids are going on field trips today. G and Bella are off to a farm. Mia is going on a Mall trip. Mia's summer school class has kids with various situations. Some profoundly affected. Some physically challenged. And I'm sitting here in tears thinking that people in the mall are going to be looking at them and thinking rotten thoughts. Maybe laughing at them. And I am sad.

If you have a typical child who can go out and laugh and play with friends and handle herself safely for God's sake get on your knees and say Thank You. Do not tell me about your carpool problems. I don't care to hear about how bored she is or that overnight camp is SO expensive or how fat you look in a swimsuit so you hate summer. I look great in a swimsuit. Wanna swap?

You have no idea what it's like to send your child out into the world knowing the world is no where near ready to embrace her.

By noon I'll be back to my cheery self. I always bounce back. I'm Kimelastic. But for right now, thinking about Mia in the Mall? I'm flattened right out. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to steam clean my carpets. Autism takes its toll on more than just people.


DD said...

I've only got one on the spectrum - Aspie - and I feel your pain. And kids can be so damn mean. I'm raising my coffee cup to you and saying a prayer that all goes well today for both you and your girls!

Kim Stagliano said...

Thanks DD - may I come have breakfast at the Otherworld Diner? I could use a stack of chocolate chip pancakes. Aspie is tough because they REALLY understand the teasing and it hits their core. My kids understand the teasing, but not in capital letters.

You MUST order LOOK ME IN THE EYE by John Robison to read all about this topic. And it's a great story too.


kristen said...

Oh Kim...I will keep good thoughts for you and the girls today.

Drama Mama said...

I'm with you, sister friend.

Pulled my kid out of camp yesterday because I got the tiniest inkling that the counselor was not uh, how shall I say this - not COOL with us and our residual autism.

Thinking of you today. And dear Mia.

mcewen said...

Luckily mine are 'protected' in morning summer school [spec ed] but even that has it's ups and downs.

The trouble for me, is that I'm so used to how they are, I forget how other people see them, until someone volunteers an unsolicited opinion. I'm not going to trade my rose tinted spectacles for dark glasses though - how would we ever clean the carpets like that!
Cheers dearie and I'll be thinking of you too.

Stacy said...

Hope the field trip is uneventful and the kids have a great time.

Mom26children said...

When I see photos of your daughters, I see the most beautiful, well-loved children ever.
I believe, in my heart, others will look at them the same way.
If HELL with them.

Ahvarahn said...

she's beautiful. i hope the mallrats know better.

Manic Mom said...

Wow. I totally felt you in this post, more so than usual. You shared a side of yourself you usually keep still.

And Kimelastic is Kimtastic in my book! So are the gals!

Hey, it's past noon by you as I type this... you cheery yet? Good, now get back to your revisions!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Mia, Mia, beautiful Mia.

Some moments hit hard, don't they?

She is a beautiful teacher and you are her medium, (for now).

You do a great job Kim.



Kim Stagliano said...

Who's "Tastic?" Is he good looking? ;) Thanks Manic and Michelle and everyone.

2:00pm and I feel better. Mia is HOME and happy. She bought herself a new scrunchy at the mall. And she looked hot in her jean shorts and her Horton t-shirt that reads,"A person's a person no matter how small." So take THAT all you fat 12 year old girls.

Aaaah, I think I'm back!

Holly Kennedy said...

Oh, Kim, my heart sank and then rose and then sank again as I read what you wrote.

At the age of three, my youngest son pointed to me one day and said: "You and me? Buddies for life."

He said it emphatically, as though there was zero room for movement on the issue, as though he FULLY understood our relationship as mother and son.

The simplicity and depth of it flattened me, and in that moment I believed, as I did when I read your post, that we are given our kids -- or paired up with them, if you will -- for reasons that may not always seem clear. But I do know that you have a doll of a daughter and Mia is lucky to have you as her mom. Give that girl and her scrunchy a hug from me :)

Amanda said...

BIG HUG for Kim, a MEGA Starbucks and a BIG piece of gunky cake...from the mum who has come out the other side and survived the "can't you control your child" comments by the adults encouraging their kids to stare.

Stephen Parrish said...

Your kids are too beautiful for people to think rotten thoughts looking at them.

This post was a punch in the gut. Round it out for HuffPo and you'll have your best article yet.

Drama Mama said...

I just got home from a day with my kids, and I rushed to the computer, worried about you, about Mia.

I'm grateful that her day was good. I like that she got a scrunchy, even though she CANNOT wear it after the age of 13.

I'm glad that everyone was delivered unscathed by Mean People.

Score one for our team.

gettingthere said...

Maybe, just maybe, some people in the mall saw a beautiful young girl and not an autistic child. Mia is lovely and I'm glad she had a good day at the mall.
You're doing a great job with your girls and inspire people like me. Whenever I feel overwhelmed (1 aspie boy), I come to your blog, look at your kids and say "Hat's off."

Anonymous said...

Kim, I know exactly how this feels, and I am glad it turned out well. What I think is really great is despite your fears, you let her go anyway, and experience the experience. Too many times with my daughter I would not let her experience things because of my fears she would get hurt. Now that she is older, I know that was SO my issue, and I should have let her try, and had more faith in her ability to deal with it.
I admire you in taking the risk, and letting her go.

The Anti-Wife said...

My nephew is autistic and I so admire my sister's ability to just take a deep breath and keep moving forward in a positive manner with him when others are being less than kind. I don't know how you all do it. You are super women.

Samara Leigh said...

I worry about my Aspie/ADHD teen in social settings all of the time. When he was younger, in social settings I could barely enjoy myself worrying if he was getting along with the other kids and about how others perceived him.

Kids can be incredibly mean. But unfortunately, sometimes adults can be, too.

The Wandering Author said...

Kim, I hope things always go well for your daughters, but you have one thing to comfort you no matter how things go. You are doing what you can to change the world, so that whenever anyone looks at any other person, what they see is a human being, not a disability, skin colour, or anything else ridiculous. Go on trying to teach everyone that all people are just that, people, and you can't go too far wrong.

As for anyone who would treat your daughters as anything less than human - "to HELL with them." I stole that quote from another comment because there is just no better way to say it.

John Elder Robison said...

Well, I'll tell you . . . they laughed at me too. And I laughed right back, when I hung the dummy from the power line, and so many other times.

And now, the tables have turned, and they are nice to me.

You really should think hard about what level of protectiveness you should extend, because the world won't follow your lead, and the kids at some point have to stand on their own.

And like me, their resilience may surprise you.

Also, you might remember that many of the things that moms like you think are sad or terrible are just normal to people like me. And we could say the same for you and the other moms - it's sad she can't appreciate this, but we don't because we just don't think that way.

Frankly, I would bet that even the worst things you see, smearing shit on the wall, for example, is not troubling the kids one little bit.

It's just a different normal, and you have to learn to accomodate both.

So often as a child, the times the normal people thought were great, sucked for me. And the best times for me, sucked for them.

I surely hope my story sheds more light on this for the general public.

Kim Stagliano said...

Thanks, John. Woofle.

Demon Hunter said...

I hope they had fun, Kim. I try to educate people every chance I get about the clients I work with and how much I love them, and how they're so much better and loveable than the "normal" population. At my church, we have an Autistic child who comes in on Sunday mornings by himself (his family doesn't even bring him, he walks by himself) and my church members embrace him and are kind to him. I love that! :*) Keep your head up---there are kind people around...

Kim Stagliano said...

Demon, you're right. Hmm, that's a bit of unusual typing when we're talking about Church! On Sunday and older couple stopped me as we left Church and asked, "Were you on vacation? We missed you!" And I laughed, "What was Mass too quiet?" I was really touched. Life is good. People are good. And the shmucks can (say it with me) GO TO HELL! :)

Manic Mom said...

Fat 12-year olds... LOL!

Save that scrunchie forever. It's her own personal victory. I'm glad she had fun, and I bet she looked adorable in her Horton T!

Liked what John had to say. I really can't wait to read his book. I have some of his brother's books, but they've been on my TBR pile for so long. I asked a friend if Aug talks of his brother much in his books. She said no. Is this so? Anyway, Look Me in the Eye is getting cracked right open the day it goes on sale!

Kim Stagliano said...

Manic, I've read Augusten's "Possible Side Effects" and loved it. I'm reading "Running with Scissors" now (I stopped when Harry Potter came out) and find it to be a harder read, although I am unable to drop it. It's pretty startling and kind of like a white lightbulb with no shade. You appreciate the light, but it hurts your eyes and makes everything in the room look ugly.

John's book is exactly what I've read about non-fiction. It reads like fiction - that's a high compliment.

Demon Hunter said...

You're right about the shmucks, Kim! People who judge others, will be affected, afflicted, or blessed (depending on how you look at it) with the very same thing they're judging. I've seen racists end up with bi-racial grandchildren, homophobics having gay children, and people afraid of mentally challenged kids end up having them. God has a way of reminding people who's in charge.

Chris said...

Your Mia looks like my Joss (almost 16). They are so pretty, without the stigmata that might identify them as being "different".

I've become inured to the stares of "adults" and teenagers. It's the puzzled looks of the kids, ten years (or more) younger than my daughter, that always unnerve me. I'm not sure why.

I used to be diffident...not anymore. Don't mess with my kid.

We live in CT too. Want to bring your girls over for a pool party?

(I'm serious)

Kim Stagliano said...

Chris, email me offlist! :) There's a contact me link on the blog. I took Mia to the town pool just the two of us yesterday, for a treat while her sisters were in a therapy camp and the 8,9 year old boys were giggling at her and making monster noises. Too many lifeguards around to give them a proper scare though!

micci said...

Wow, I know exactly how you feel. My own ASD dd is almost 11 and looks quite similar to your daughter. Sometimes I just want to put a shield around her and protect her from the cruelty of her peers.

Allison said...

I just wanted to say thank you. You are always able to give me a great laugh when I need it as well as the necessary appropriate cry as well.

Mia is beautiful just like her Mom! I completely can relate to the pain you wrote here. It's a difficult balancing act between the joys and devistations when you are a parent of ASD children.

You are such a heroic Mom in your writings, your ability to show your feelings and to give the rest of us much to think about as well as entertain us. I really admire you.

I also thank you tremendously for being there for me in my most recent incident as well. You are a great friend, writer, Super Mom and more!!

Allison said...

I just wanted to say thank you. You are always able to give me a great laugh when I need it as well as the necessary appropriate cry as well.

Mia is beautiful just like her Mom! I completely can relate to the pain you wrote here. It's a difficult balancing act between the joys and devistations when you are a parent of ASD children.

You are such a heroic Mom in your writings, your ability to show your feelings and to give the rest of us much to think about as well as entertain us. I really admire you.

I also thank you tremendously for being there for me in my most recent incident as well. You are a great friend, writer, Super Mom and more!!

ORION said...

What they all said...
You are my hero.

dallasgirl said...

Ok, so I am in the minority here. I don't have any autistic children, I just work with your husband and I'm quite fond of your wit. As someone who is blessed beyond her wildest dreams, please know that my children are being taught that God made us all different, and that's a good thing. Just because someone looks/talks/acts different than us does not give us the right to stare or pass judgement or God forbid, actually make fun of or hurt someone. He's 5, so at this point, he's going to stare. But when I see him stare, I say "it looks like they are having so much fun" or I try to find something he can relate to - "you have the same shirt", "he's having grilled cheese, you like grilled cheese", whatever I can find that's familiar to him to prove that folks who are different are just like us. He also knows that I'd tar and feather him while booking a ticket to military school if he ever, ever so much as looked the wrong way at someone different than him.

Will it work? I hope so. I pray so. Just know, I'm on your side...even if it's from a distance!

Kim Stagliano said...

Dallas Girl, I am teasing my hair 3 feet tall in your honor today. :) Thanks. Do not EVER utter "John Tesh" to MArk, though, OK? LOLOLOL!!! I will get to Cincy one of these days. Y'all have eee-lek-tricity down there, doncha? ;)

susan said...

Know that my three children, my 14 nieces and nephews and all tons of their friends have had many many outings with my ASD girl and your daughter and her mall friends would not faze them in the least. And that's a great thing.

Anonymous said...

Been there to the Mall, seen that and the pubescent Beotches making fun of my daughter who is on the spectrum, and know it cuts like a hot knife. However, wouldn't it be nice if we all felt comfortable enough to try on rhinestone tiara's at Claire's and not give a rat's behind what people thought of us? Gotta love our kids!
~Spectrum Mom (AKA: Viki Gayhardt)