I went to Walmart the other night with my monkey and my parents.
(Note: I do not make these kinds of trips lightly. However, since my parents were with me, I figured three adults can take care of one toddler.)
That entire day the monkey did not want to eat. He just wanted to play and play. While fighting the Walmart crowds and trying to shop, we noticed my monkey was acting very fussy. I blamed it on the atmosphere, noise, people, lights, etc. However, as we passed by the McDonalds section, he ran towards this lady and tried to steal one of her fries. And that’s how we realized he was hungry.
The lady from the McDonald’s noticed that he was able to steal a fry from her. Her reaction was super sweet. She told us not to worry and she started talking to my monkey. She even offered to give him the rest of her fries.
The thing that really hits me is her reaction. Although I am extremely grateful for her attitude, I can’t stop and wonder. Her reaction was towards a 4 year old little boy. I know she said all those sweet things to him because he’s a cute 4 years old.
But I can’t help and wonder:
What will happen when he is older? What happens when he’s 18 and he wants to steal someone’s fries?
Autism awareness is increasing. But lot of people always think of autism and young toddlers or young kids. I want to stop here and stress how grateful I am for this. Awareness increasing is a result of many parents paving the way for their kids. But what about the autistic adults we currently have living with us? Society labels them as weird, different, and even scary. Many Moms and Dads will probably tell their kids to stay away from them. And all I can think about is that’s going to be my kid one day. The day will come when he is not cute and little. One day he’s going to be a man. How will society see him? How will society treat an awkward man that doesn’t understand social cues? A man who is unaware of society’s expectations? As he’s growing up my fear is that he will be bullied. He will have difficulty being accepted.
I watch the show Big Bang Theory and the last episode was about Sheldon Cooper’s birthday party. It was showing how his friends knew he was different, yet he was accepted. I know this is a fictional story. But I hope it doesn’t have to be. I hope my monkey will have friends that understand him and love him unconditionally.
Until then, all I can do is wait patiently. All I can do is to keep paving the way for awareness and acceptance. Maybe, just maybe, as he grows up, he will be accepted.
But isn’t that what all parents want?
For their kids to find happiness.
For their kids to be loved.