Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Autism Answer: The View From The Backseat Of My Van

My cell phone sort of acts as a family device. Declyn and Shay don't yet have their own phones (though they really, really should!) and so mine is one we all share. 

It's a phone, when I use it. A gaming device when Declyn uses it, and a video camera when Shay uses it. I suppose it also plays the role of constant reminder that my kids are waaaayyyy cooler than me, since they know how to make it do really neat things while I merely find it useful for phoning my sister. Anyway... 

The other day while we were all driving back from a trip to a nearby town, Shay had my phone. I could hear the boys being silly in the backseat while my hubby and I chatted in the front. It was lovely!

So yesterday while the boys were at school and I was missing them, I thought I'd check out the video!

There were my two youngest boys--who are fourteen and sixteen, not really young anymore!!--being typical teen boys, making sarcastic jokes and beeping out the bad words because mom and dad are sitting up front. You know, the usual. I smiled and sipped my coffee and kept on watching.

Then an interesting thing happened. The camera panned around and showed my hubby and I for a moment as we sat gabbing up front, and I was surprised! We don't match at all! And the contrasting colors of our skin is startling!

It was only a moment, because then the camera went back to recording teen boy whit and sarcasm for posterity, but what an enlightening moment! Of course I know that my hubby is black and I am white. I know  that he is twenty-three years older than me. But I feel the love and connection and absolute belonging of me to him and him to me. So when people stare at us, make rude comments and gestures, or even applaud us for our willingness to brave the world and proclaim our love in public, well... I feel like they're making a mountain out of a molehill.

But for that moment, when I was startled by our obvious differences, I was encouraged to understand. For a few more moments I could even see my two youngest sons through the eyes of others--they are vastly different too. Black and white, small and huge, cool and obsessed... 

This was big. This was important! Now I will understand better the stares and comments, not just when I'm with my hubby but in so many more ways, and with so many more people I love. But understanding the stares does not mean allowing judgments or choosing to believe they're necessary. As a matter of fact, it helps me ask kindly for the opposite!

When people stare, that doesn't mean they are judging. It means that something is interesting and different and making them think. Most often people do then start to judge, but not always. And when we continue to go out, show ourselves to be proud and kind, smile at strangers comfortably while we ask our brother to pull up his pants because his excited scream/jump made them fall down, and oh, look! everyone in the store is looking over here wondering if you're okay because most people don't scream in the store, better smile and nod!! (you know, that old chestnut!)--then we example acceptance and appreciation of difference. 

If we continue to understand that we ARE interesting and different, and that we DO invite people to think, we can comfortably help them think thoughts that are useful and kind.

Until eventually there are so many of us out there being comfortable and interesting, that we won't really be surprising anymore!

The view from the backseat of my van was a little bit startling, a lot revealing, and immensely beautiful!

I hope you see that to.

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

My hubby and my beautiful boys...
Man, this was long ago!!