Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Three boys walked by, and I didn't cry

I was driving in the car alone the other day, always a treat, when I passed by three boys around Max's age. They were cracking up. I looked at them and thought, "Wonder what they're laughing about?"

It was a moment remarkable only for what I didn't think: Max is never going to be one of those boys walking down the street with friends.

Over the years, I've had my fair share of those sad flashes, especially when driving around town. At first, the feelings stemmed from my struggle to embrace Max's disabilities. It had nothing to do with my beautiful, sunny, determined child, but with the fact that when I was growing up, our culture did not promote disability positively. I'd had no experience with anyone with disabilities. I just didn't know.

As time passed, my feelings morphed into despair that Max would never have the kind of childhood that involved walking around with friends, without supervision from me. It seemed so unfair. Once, I burst out in tears at a stop sign as two boys coming home from school passed in front of my car. 

Things have changed. For one, on several occasions Max has ambled around town and downed pizza with a boy who's part of a visiting friends program run by the Friendship Circle. He's also hung out with teens he's met through evening programs at his school. And he's had the time of his life with fellow campers at sleepaway camp. These meetups may be part of organized efforts, but that makes them no less meaningful to Max.   

I've changed, too. I've grown to understand and accept that Max may not lead the existence of many teens in our neighborhood, but he is content. We do the best we can to enrich it and enable his hopes and dreams. He doesn't think anything is lacking in his life (well, other than a trip to Disney World and a house in Orlando), and why should I?

When Max was a little guy, I figured that the passage of time would assuage the sadness in my heart. That's gone, but the biggest change of all has been in my mindset. Max has helped me see the power of diversity: development comes in all forms, speech and communication come in all forms, movement comes in all forms, playing comes in all forms, learning comes in all forms, friendship comes in all forms, happiness comes in all forms. One kind is not better than the other, just different. 

And so, I drove on, putting distance between me and those boys on the street. I left behind no trail of wistfulness whatsoever.

Image: Flickr/Yumen

1 comment:

  1. Changing your mindset is a powerful thing. Like you, I believe in the power of inclusivity. After all, we are so much more similar than we are different.


Thanks for sharing!

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