Ok, here’s something not nice to say. I say when I go to Disney World that I am a super model, if you have been you know what I’m talking about. And trust me, I’m no super model. This is particularly true at the Water Parks in July. But modeling, whether by Cindy Crawford or anyone else, is particularly important as a parent. I am learning this more and more each day. I read the Modern Love piece in the NY Times Styles Section this past Sunday. I don’t always read this piece, but every now and then my soft side comes out and I read it and tear up. This particular article was so well written about a man who lost his wife and the relationship he has with his sons after his wife is gone. The one thing that really jumped out at me was that his mother-in-law, in the midst of losing her daughter, made a point of telling the author what a great thing he had done by modeling such dedicated husband behavior. Apparently he had let his boys(they were teenagers) know that while their mom was ill that she needed his full attention and that their issues and needs had to take a back seat. I am not making this sound as touching as it was in the article. But modeling the respect and dedication to your spouse models great behavior to your kids. If you are a man and you respect your wife and treat her that way, so will your sons treat women in their lives with respect. Essentially that was the lesson. This lesson got under my skin.
We talked to Bryan’s Autism Coach today about Sea World and about upcoming middle school visits. She told us that all of the staff are talking about how well he did. She said “he was a gentleman (totally crying), appropriate and just a 5th grader.” Come on, it doesn’t get better than that!!! So it made us start to think about what do we want for his immediate future? Earl and I went last week to visit a school just for kids with autism. There are no typical kids there and they do not have any typical kid interaction at all. It is a small school with a good teacher/student ratio. It is far from our house and a little tough to manage logistically. We started to think about who our son is and what is good for him. He is a product of us. Earl and I are both extremely social people. We each have friends for more than 40 years and our connections go to the core of who we are. We model social behavior, we crave social behavior and so does he. Bryan, while really unable to navigate a true friendship, tries to socialize. He always knows everyones names and talks to people wherever we go. He is a super friendly kid. Although his conversations are more associations than anything else, the fact that he tries, that he wants to interact, well, that’s revealing. Would he think we were selling him short if put him only with kids with autism? Would he feel “less typical?” We really wouldn’t know, but if we are thinking it, I bet he would. His perception is sharp even if his verbal confirmation is not present. So on we go to the next bunch of schools to visit. They are local public middle schools where he will get plenty of modeling, and for middle school, that won’t all be good. It’s ok, though, part of the growing and maturing process.