Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Autism Answer: Don't Hold Tightly To Excuses

Many, many years ago, when I was the mother of only two boys, I was walking into a laundromat with my kids when an Arab woman stopped me. 

"Your boys," she pointed,"they are Arab? Yes?"

Their dad is Saudi Arabian so I nodded proudly. My boys are so many things!! If she got me started I would never stop talking. I LOVE talking about my kids!!

Of course, here you are reading my blog, so you already know that.

Anyway, she interrupted my eruption of showing off with this doozy. "Arab boys are bad! So stubborn and so bad! Good luck!"

Huh. Okay.

Here's what's funny. At first I was just relieved that my boys hadn't heard her, since they were busy running around the laundromat being.... well.... kinda bad! 

And then I felt a warm relief to have heard her say what she said. You see, my boys were wonderfully wild and strong willed, and not huge fans of listening or calming down. It made me feel better to think that maybe my kids weren't a lot of work because I was a bad mom or because there was something wrong with them. It was their DNA! She had given me an excuse for the exhaustion and difficulty in parenting my boys, and I liked it for a while. 

But I was smart enough (well, my mom taught me to be smart enough!) to know the danger in holding onto that "Arab boys are bad" motto. 

Admittedly, it is good to know that you're not alone, and that it's not "just you" in anything. It's excellent to have an understanding of the vastly different possibilities, whys, and whats that you're dealing with in anything. Culture, biology, religion, and so much more often does play a fascinating and fun to explore role in parenting, disabilities, social beliefs, romantic relationship expectations, political ideas etc. 

But there's a deep danger in choosing to hold on too tight and use it as an excuse rather than a possible ingredient.

So, for a few minutes that day in the laundromat I shook my head and even let out a fun exasperated sigh at my two "stubborn and bad" boys. But long before it could turn into a habit or excuse to give up and see my sons as actually bad to the bone, I stopped. 

And then I played color naming and imagination games as we sorted the clothes for washing.

My boys are many things, and all of them are something I love to live and work with! Even if sometimes it's exhausting and almost exasperating!

Here they are, my bad boys!
Playing in the plastic plants at the mall,
where they aren't allowed to play.
And though it was exhausting and people stared judgmentally at me often,
I miss those days!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)