Why don’t I worry about whether there is a ‘cure’ for autism or not?
Because I long ago forgot the ideas of perfection…
The perfect family…
The perfect hair…
The perfect occupation…
The perfect house…
The perfect body…
The perfect children…
What is perfect anyway?
Maybe when you have a child with special needs it forces you to let go of those ‘perfect’ hopes and dreams. A family picture where we are all looking at the camera? HA! It happened once…because my good friend, Holly, kept snapping. She knew it would take 20 pictures to get Tuck to look at the camera.
I’ve actually come to love the messy, not-perfect life. The life I never considered having when playing house at age seven. This imperfect life ROCKS…but it’s taken some humility and perspective seeking to get here.
My mom was a classic ‘pull up your big girl pants’ kind of lady. Some of her key phrases?
“Don’t make such a fuss.”
“You are not that special, you must work hard.”
“Get over it.”
“Cry and then move on.”
“Don’t make such a big deal over it. You’ll look like an idiot.”
“Life isn’t fair.”
“Not everyone will like you.”
“Put your big girl panties on.”
“Suck it up and stop crying.”
Or my personal favorite “Buck up, women have babies every day it doesn’t make you special.”
That may make her sound harsh, I get that. She loves me like crazy and taught me some good lessons here. Get over yourself. And do it quickly.
I struggle with both my students and Tucker in this area. How do I teach them that it’s okay to be wrong and make mistakes – but get over it, and quickly.
He HATES being wrong. He HATES to receive blame. So do many of my students. Maybe it’s not spectrum – but generational?
Some of it is spectrum – and in talking to other spectrum parents, I know this. I don’t know if it is him overcompensating for his ‘self-perceived deficiencies.’ The idea that he struggles in some areas of life so he has to ‘make up’ in other areas. Plenty of adults do this – when we feel threatened or powerless in a position we will find a way to feel better. It’s human nature. The person who seems to ‘know everything?’ Yep – they are most likely struggling to feel important.
How do I teach them that it’s okay to make mistakes? Own it, even if it’s wrong. Just own it.
The fence is the worst place to be. So many people I know are there – in so many areas of life. In romantic relationships, choosing a major, dealing with parents, confronting a friend, accepting a diagnosis – it seems they are paralyzed from the reality that they have to make a decision and in making that decision they may make a mistake.
Just choose. The real worth of a person (at least to me) is how they handle jumping off on the wrong side of the fence. Left side, right side. Left side, right side. Close your eyes and go!
Well, here is what I’ve found. You WILL error. I guarantee it. MORE than once. You WILL Fail. You WILL make mistakes…big ones, like really, really, really HUGE mistakes. Trust me, I’ve made some doozies. Yes – some of them still haunt me – like Mrs. DeShaw in first grade. She caught me ‘cheating’ on a math test. I can still feel the distinct pain of letting her down. I wanted to be like her, and there I was, caught red-handed, a cheater on a math test. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t remember – that’s just one thing about mistakes. More often than not, we remember…but others do not.
Each wrong decision helps us become more right.
At times I want to scream at Tucker and my students, “Stop trying to be perfect.” The quest for perfection paralyzes. The paralysis causes them to not learn…or live. They aren’t willing to error – but they MUST error to learn. Try just living, take life as it comes…one day at a time.
I recently met with a former Professor of mine. As we parted ways he said, “I’m so proud of the woman you have become. You were always so happy, but you have really come into yourself.” I smiled, because I had spent the previous hour recounting errors, mistakes, and lapses in judgement. At one point in the conversation he said to me, “Spontaneity is scary. It’s hard. It’s why people plan carefully and compartmentalize their lives. Lived life is scary. Life that is truly lived is unpredictable. It’s easier to say ‘this is right’ and ‘this is wrong’ because it helps people deal with the reality of life that is coming at you – and you really can’t stop it. I most proud of you because you live that scary life.”
No wonder I always liked him.
Maybe all of this comes down to humans being afraid of judgement. Judgement by peers, by friends, by relatives, by acquaintances, by strangers, by God. Maybe we all just need to fess up about how imperfect we really are (see Day #166 I’m Not Supermom).
I find that is what works best with Tucker and my students. I simply admit my wrong and encourage them to do the same. It makes them more willing to jump, to take the risk, to admit their failures.
Every night we go to bed to wake up the next morning and have another chance. Another chance to err, another chance at life. I won’t judge you…because I am as perfectly imperfect as every other human being that is walking this great earth.
So, do it – live life. Jump off the fence, make a decision. If you jump on the right side and were right, good for you. If you jump off the wrong side – and were wrong, congratulations. You are about to become a better version of you.
I dare you. Admit your imperfectly perfect life.