There’s Delores Katonah – remember when she dyed her hair jet black and when she tried to dye it back to blonde it looked green for a while?
Oh man, look at Bobbie Lawrence…what a burnout. He lives in California now.
Oh, it’s Maureen Ridnik. Everyone called her Redneck. Didn’t her older brother die of something?
Tommy Schaeffer … he dated Patty Patrice and they had that fight in the lunchroom and she threw her milk at him. I think she’s born again now…
Listening, I could already hear in my head the dialogue on someone else’s couch over my picture.
That’s Jacqueline Peters. She was sooo quiet. I hear her son has autism…Despite the decades that go by, people get stuck in time and can’t shake the flakey personality, the bad hair day, the shyness, or the fight in the lunchroom.
Maybe that’s why many parents today are so acutely aware of the pain of growing up that they try to shield their children from all the angst of youth. They don’t want their kids to expend as much energy as they have running away from or fighting the yearbook one liner.
They also realize that even if you completely transform your life - for better or worse - and are no longer that boy or girl in the picture, the folks reading the yearbook will have no clue.You’re always the kid who was shy and now your kid has autism. There’s no in between.
That 17-year-old girl is now a grownup and a completely different person. Maturity changed her, college changed her, working changed her, marriage changed her, and autism changed her. But none of it matters when the yearbook comes off the shelf. You may be called Jackie now. You may have run five marathons (I haven’t). You may write novels (I don’t). You may have climbed Mt Everest (that’s right, I haven’t).
How do you tell people that your kid is amazing and that autism is more than a word and your life is more than that word? Donald would say, “Who cares what they think?” I say, let them think I’m shy, let them think I’ve become agoraphobic if they want. Reduce my life to one sentence but don’t do that to my life with my son.
You can say, “I hear her son has autism,” but don’t stop there. Finish the story.How about, “I hear her son has a beautiful spirit, an incredible sense of humor, wondrous eyes, and a smile that lights up a room. I hear that Jacqueline can’t believe that her friends have been so amazing and supportive since her son was diagnosed and that she has since met wonderful parents who have kids like her son.”
“I hear her husband is a great dad who makes sure he’s his son’s best friend. I hear she can’t believe how lucky she is to have her little guy – and it’s all because of autism.”
Trap me in the wonder years:
That’s Jacqueline Peters. She was sooo quiet. I hear her son has autism…
Just give me one extra line:
..and everyone’s doing o.k.