Saturday, January 29, 2011

Parents Are on a Spectrum, Too

GB had a birthday party to go to this morning. One of her classmates, also ASD, had invited her. A friend had given me the book Shut-Up-About-Your-Perfect-Kid, by Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian. She assured me it was humorous and laughter is always good in my life. Anyway, I brought the book with me to read while GB was at her party. Her anxiety gets to such high levels that I can never leave her at a party and it has only been the last couple of years that I can say she usually makes to the end of the party.

Today's party was unusual not only for being on a Saturday morning, but was also held at a huge fitness gym. GB was apprehensive and we slowly walked through the parking lot, into the party entrance, talking about who would be there that she knew and what kinds of games they might play. The invitation had a picture of a football on it and that was it. GB was sure SHE was not playing football. I kept talking in my slow, soothing, we-can-do-this-voice and eventually took off her coat, put on her sneakers, and joined the party. I found the perfect mom spot- far away from the action but up high, so no matter where she went on the playing field, (yes, playing field) she could see me. She checked in her usual dozen times and waved and waited for me to wave back another gazillion times, but seemed to be OK with it. They did not play football, although they played dodge ball, kickball, and freeze tag. The only game GB was interested in was freeze tag. When they were playing the other games, she saw a soccer net and decided to play soccer.

I didn't get to read my book much because most of the kids at the party were on the spectrum, hence most of the parents stayed. They were all talkative and a lot of them wanted me to talk about GB and after a while, I just put my book away. However, I am not a small talk person, and when there was a lull in the conversation, my eyes wandered. Eventually, they settled on a brochure and I started reading. The brochure told me we were not at actually at the huge fitness center, we were at the "Super*man" Speed School. The purpose of the "Super*man" Speed School was to give your child, from 7 through high school, the edge the needed to reach their potential as an athlete. They would cut seconds off their time! For only $299, they would train your kid 5 days a week, so that when spring tryouts came, your kid would make the cut.

For the 7-12 year old, the cut they were talking about was making a Little League team! I watched the kids at the party enjoying themselves; none of them could consistently catch the Four Square ball they were using for the games, but it didn't seem to bother any of them. Some of them understood the rules (not GB) but they weren't bothered by the kids who didn't. They were all having fun.

After the party, one of the 7-12 speed drills were scheduled. As we were gathering her goody bag and snow boots, getting ready to leave, the was an influx of parents with their kids, coming for the next class. Without breaking their conversation, the parents put themselves between their kids and ours. I listened to them remind their kid why they were there, what was expected, and that they would be closely watched for attitude and effort. As GB and I got through and left, GB chattering excitedly about the party, I briefly felt gratitude. GB would never make me sit with the parents who had stop watches and dreamed of pro careers for their children.

The Dad took the girls swimming this afternoon, and I am going to lay down and read my book.


Integrity Singer said...

AMEN! I am glad for the same. Although it is fun to watch WG get so involved and enthralled with her singing at church and her dance on Saturdays. Her recital is on The Dad's birthday and that is going to be AWESOME!

In the Pink said...

That sounds like a good party! Some parents expect so much from their kids...I just do not get it.

Lisa said...

Yes ma'am. I'm so grateful that my perspective has changed.

Struggling to Stand said...

If only those parents didn't run the elementary school my children attend!

Lisa said...

Thank you for a refreshing perspective. BTW, I finally found your blog and look forward to reading!