Friday, January 18, 2008

The Pervasive Nudge: Part 1

I have been working on a post, that seems to be growing, but on the verge of never being complete, so I thought I would post it in parts, and eventually (possibly) combine it.

The Choice

Both of my boys float somewhere along the autism scatterplot, their happy little bodies bouncing among various points of deviation and typicality at such a quick pace that their line of function trembles with uncertainty. Like optical illusions, it is not just my boys that define themselves, but also the perception of those that surround them. They can be viewed, defined, categorized, labeled in hundreds of thousands of ways, none of them wrong exactly, but none of them completely right.

We can't see the whole picture, the abstractness, the fluidity of their persons. At first glance, we take a snapshot, a flat analysis with defined dimensions and expectations, and that is the first image we see each and every time their presence enters our conscious. But either easily or with much effort, most of us can change our perception if we want to do so. Some of us will flip carelessly and catastrophically among the various viewpoints, others of us will just revert to what is easiest to see.

The question I ask myself, the question that chisels sharply into my sanity as I try to sleep away the day's confusion: Do I massage and manipulate my children to fit the perceptions of those around them, or do I help change the perception of those around them to see who they are,who they want to be?

Do I coerce and mold my children into something that society approves of and will accept in its seemingly faulty perception? Sometimes I think this is easiest and fool myself into believing that it'll give the boys the best chance at managing to live in society at large. Or do I spend more energy on sending a different message, one that my children might not immediately benefit from, but their children might? And at what cost? Am I setting them up to fail?

I have my own weaknesses, my own deep-rooted perceptions that are slowly changing, my own needs for survival now. Yet some urge deep within, some voice that doesn't have a name, some song that agonizes to be sung, stirs a hunger for the answer I have to choose to feed. So here sits the little girl, the one who has (as I wrote in a comment of another blog) a deep need for validation juxtaposed with a childish fear of failure. The little girl, like my boys, is still trying to fit into society's definition of who I should be. Who I should want to be. Who I should choose to be.

So I sit stagnant, too afraid to move. Too afraid to not move. Unsure if I should give in to the pervasive nudge. Or run from it. Meanwhile my boys eagerly ring around the rosy, grabbing instinctively for my hands, pulling me into what they already know. I just have to decide if I should convince them that they are wrong, or join them in their dance. How do I choose to see my boys?


Club 166 said...

I may be right, or I may be wrong, but here is how I see it.

I don't see it as an either/or choice.

I try as much as possible to change societal perceptions.

I try to affirm to both my kids every day that I love them totally and truly as they are.

And I also try to instill as many coping devices as possible, to ease my son's journey as much as possible.

You always come off as a good mama in your posts. Trust your instincts.


Ange said...

ok seriously Joe, you make too much sense. Thank you for "Trust your instincts." Each year this gets a little bit harder.