Friday, July 11, 2008
I've noticed a lot of bloggers lately have been writing odes to their children as it seems that many of them have summer birthdays. Their words have been very sweet and have really spoken to me. In a world in which so many children are unwanted, abused and neglected it's always nice to see that there are many that are not only loved, but genuinely cherished. But I have to be honest....reading such pieces is always a little bittersweet for me. I can't help but notice and think about what they have and what I don't. I try not to dwell too much on what my child can't do and what his autism takes from him, but sometimes to avoid those things is to live in true denial. I have been in the position many times to speak to parents of children recently diagnosed with autism. I have also been in the position to offer support and counsel to parents who have coped with the disorder for some time. I am really in no way qualified to do either, but something about my listening skills and a background in the human services has lead me to these jobs. In those situations, many a person has heard me use the old "children are like clay" story. Go with me here.... When a new baby is born, he is a lump of clean and perfect, unused clay. As the potter or parent, you can turn that lovely clay into whatever you so choose. It could become something as lovely as a glazed vase or something as dirty and unremarkable as an ash tray. As parent/potter YOU will choose how to fashion this priceless clay. When you have a child with a disability, you also get clay. It often even looks as good as "typical" or "normal" clay. But when you start shaping it, you realize as its parent/potter that it's not so easy to spin. It requires much more work and a much more delicate hand. You will become frustrated with the clay and sometimes even get mad that you can't work it as well as the other potters. You will even wonder sometimes if your clay can be fashioned into a vase or an ash tray or will simply remain.....clay. You will walk out of your studio and see the other potters. They are all either thrilled with or disappointed by their clay.....it really all depends on the day. Sometimes they will get mad at their clay when it's really them that aren't treating it and spinning it right. And sometimes they will get annoyed when their clay does something really silly like falling off the wheel. They'll berate the clay and make a huge deal out of a simple accident that can be easily remedied. And what of us potters of the "other" clay? The clay that won't spin? Won't seal? Won't slip? Has dents, pocks, discoloration, pockets, etc? What do we do with our non-performing clay? Well, we'll get mad at it. Cry over it. Keep spinning it. Keep telling it we know it can. Lose patience with it. Let another more experienced potter give it a try. Cry again. Have I beaten this clay metaphor to death? I used to like to spin.....sue me. My dedicated readers know that I don't talk a lot about Little Boy's autism. And I also don't try to use this blog for complaining, ranting or bellyaching. But I just had to use this chance to say something to all of you "normal" potters out there: take this clay you were given, and dammit, spin it right! You will never know how blessed/lucky/fortunate you were to have been given it. And when you see us other potters out there.....the ones with the "challenged" clay. Don't give us your sympathy. And don't give us your criticisms of advice. Just look at us and know that we're potters too. And like you, we're just trying to make a masterpiece. I am The Chick.....I'm a SAHM living Down South where I write about my life.....marriage, friends, music, activism, fads, oh.....and the life of a mom with a 6 year-old boy with autism. Stop by my farm for more!