Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Social Acceptance, Isolation, & the Big Picture

Here's a thought for today. I was reading The Mommy Blog and Mindy's post regarding the job description for Parenting (aka "Youth Manager Position"). It's very funny and well-written.

This main description caught my eye: "Responsible for managing mostly small humans (1 to 10 at a time) within the constraints of scope, quality, time, and cost, and working within established Child Protective Service policies and guidelines, to nurture and groom offspring for acceptance in society at large. Also, anything else the wind might blow your way."

Let's look at that phrase again: "groom offspring for acceptance in society at large."

Wow. That gave me a lot to chew on. Especially after dinner, when I spent a couple of hours at a parenting class for parents of special needs kids. And it brought to mind several things:
* My parenting reality is different from society-at-large
-- So what?

* Yes, I want James to be accepted by s-a-l (while maintaining his uniqueness)
-- Don't we all want this?

* My definition of society may not be James'. His world may encompass the same range of people and exposure to the world in general. Or it may not. Is that bad? I don't know. Would I be disappointed? Probably a bit, but definitely if James was unhappy.

Tonight in the class we talked a lot about the isolation felt by parents of children with special needs. How well meaning friends and relatives (and indifferent ones) just don't get it. How the little things can silently build up and start smothering you in depression, guilt, and loneliness. How those sideways, funny/startled looks you get out in public can just stab you in the heart and get to you.

In many ways, James is lucky. He likes other children and they like him. I hope this stays true for him all his life. I know he will have difficulties. He's already smarted a bit from been left out in a social situation. But I keep faith that our grooming and his sunny nature will make the social meshing a mostly positive experience.

The other thing I took away was that we are all parents and trying to do our best. I truly believe that all loving parents share many challenges, griefs, and joys. It was very good to have a place to unload and talk (and cry) tonight about some of the special needs-related things we'd been through.

I am reading that job description list again now, and find myself laughing at "Formal child development education and/or progress toward certification of competence (provided this takes place solely in your head and does not disturb other moms; they are very busy finding their own way, blindfolded and handcuffed, through a minefield in a blinding snowstorm. Barefoot.)" Aren't we all? Shhhh!

I may never get to some of those other bullet points with parenting James. For now, that's okay. As long as we're making progress and he's leading a good life I am hopeful for his future and our journey.

(PS: The sentence "Also, anything else the wind might blow your way" = priceless and oh so true.)

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