Monday, August 17, 2009

My Life Is One Big Happy Teachable Moment

So we went to the township pool for the first time all summer today. It was too hot to walk, so I just picked G up from school, we made a stop at the 'little library' around the corner and went to the pool.

Since it was already after 4, people were leaving. The 3 of us hopped into the pool and were thrilled to have a nice swim. Or I took G for a tow, Nic swam. All was pretty uneventful until we got to the second hour. Nic was hanging with a bunch he knew from school and it seemed to be going okay. Then I heard him yelling--the way he does when he is ready to run off the rails.

I called his name. I heard one kid scoff, "Your mom is calling."

I jumped in and swam over. They didn't see me until I was nearly on top of them and they started to scatter. I told the girl closest to me. "He has autism. Do you know that?"

The others gathered in. "You mean like autism awareness?"


"You celebrate that month?"

I gave her a hard stare, and shared it with the rest of the group. "We LIVE it. Every day." I pointed to Nic. "He's stuck with this. All he wants to do his play with you guys, and swim, and have friends. You give him a hard time, and he doesn't know what to do. He needs help, not a hard time."

One girl asked him "Can you swim in the deep water?"

He nodded vigourously. She high-fived him.

And off they went.

He came back about 20 minutes later, scowling at me.

"That one girl still kept picking on me."

I sighed. "Nic, I can't fight your battles all the time. Some people just don't get it. You need to put bullies on ignore. You know?"

We got out of the pool and he was quiet while he dried off. Then he asked the question I've been waiting for.



"Were you ever bullied?" He looked at me with an expression that told me he wasn't expecting me to get whatever it was he was feeling.

I gave him a hollow laugh. "I was bullied a lot. I was beaten up quite a bit."

He gaped at me in something that looked like awe. "Are you okay?"

I chuckled. "I am now. I wasn't then."

"You should have ignored them," he told me.

"Hard to ignore some one who's punching you, calling you names." These are not places you want to go, admitting that you were once weak, powerless, a victim. BUT...I'm none of those things now, and he knows it. Which is what I guess made my admission so shocking to him.

He just doesn't see who I was.

But now he understands so much better that I know who he is. And that he will never be anyone's victim.

Because he's getting schooled in the big bad world.

But no one said ANY of this was easy.

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