Ya, I went to Brother's high school and did a presentation about Fragile X in his choir class. His high school mascot is the tiger, so I was presenting to a den of Tigers... get it?
Anyway, you would have thought I actually was, because I was so nervous about the whole thing that I hardly functioned the morning before. I just kept falling back to my thoughts of how I was going to present Fragile X and how knowing about it can help Brother to his fullest potential.
Teenagers are intimidating...
well, not really, just kind of, OK, really it was a bit intimidating at first.
I realize in these moments of being surrounded by teenagers how surreal my life really is because I can't really relate to them through my son because he's on a whole other level... I don't know how to explain it...
Anyway, I prayed a lot about what to say, made a poster and went in with a prayer and a plan.
I think it was OK.
I only had 15 minutes, but I talked so fast I think I did it in 12.
I won't tell you everything I said or did, but I do have to tell you about one thing.
I laughed and so did the kids, but it also really woke them up to Brother's plight.
I asked for a really, really, brave volunteer that wouldn't mind being a target of my presentation.
This young man raised his hand and I brought him up front to stand next to me.
I said, "OK, you're [Brother] and I'm you. Brother is standing in the hall and you see him and walk by and decide to say "hi."
Then I proceed to act like a teenage guy and stroll up to "Brother," tap him on the shoulder playfully with my fist and say, "Hey, buddy. What's up?"
I allow the kid to respond in a "normal" manner and let all the kids soak in the common interaction they had just witnessed.
I then said, "This is how YOU see this interaction. No big deal, right? Just being friendly and you say "hi" back.
"This is what [Brother] feels when you do that," and I proceeded to run at the volunteer with a big, happy face, loud voice and almost knock him to the ground...
The brave volunteer had a look on his face like, "What the heck!" and was trying to shield himself from me.
We all laughed at the kid's reaction, but they were quickly concerned as they realized why Brother will usually hide under his jacket or run away from them when they say "hi" to him in the hallway.
I told them about just looking off, not right in Brother's eyes and saying "hi" nonchalantly and not making a huge deal out of his reaction. Eventually he'll see you as "safe" and be fine with interactions with you.
I just really wanted to drive home the hyper-arousal that occurs for Brother everyday and what a great thing it is that he copes with it all well enough to enjoy school every day.
I hope it was a memorable experience for the class because they won't be in class with Brother again until next Tuesday because of A/B schedule and a holiday on Monday. I also hope, though, that I said the right things and presented them the right way so that my son could benefit from having more advocates on his side who understand him.
You always feel vulnerable, as a parent of any child, impairments or not, when you expose a weakness to his peers hoping that they don't use it against them. Bullying is very real, and I do wish my kids have not been affected by it, but it happens... I just have to believe in the good in people too.
Oh, and just for fun, I have to tell you about the tender mercy of today.
I was getting home from my hair appointment, see:
|I went back to all dark... feels good!|
I walked up my back stairs to the back door, took my key out of my pocket and start to unlock the door and my key snaps at the base of the lock! What? Luckily there was enough of a nub left of the key sticking out to remove it from the lock, but not quite enough to turn the lock.
So, I immediately called Marc and told him the situation and asked him to come let me in the house. He would be about 15 minutes.
It had snowed 3-4 inches this morning so I thought, instead of getting cold waiting for him, I would shovel the driveway while I waited and get a little workout in at the same time.
I have a broken foot.
I have a big huge boot I wear to remind me of that, yet I still pass it over. So silly. So as I started to ache a little and thinking I should just get into the car and turn the heater on. A young man in my neighborhood, friends with Brother, walked by with his snow shovel and asked if I needed help.
It's moments like that that you realize—no, get smacked in the head—that teenagers these days are amazing! Truly amazing! He was home early from school and instead of hanging with friends or sitting on Facebook he was serving me. He didn't know I had just broke the key in my door. He didn't know my foot was sore. He just listened to the prompting and helped me.
While I talked with him today, I started to gain hope that the teenagers I talked to yesterday on my son's behalf were like him—good and kind and thoughtful.
Thank you, young man, for your service in shoveling my driveway, but also in giving me reason to hope that I did the right thing for my son yesterday.