normal, anyone?

I'm reading some autism blogs lately. It's interesting how they take the approach of "different" rather than "wrong." I think that's valuable. I don't have autism, or really any neuro issues in my family, fortunately. My kids are "normal," whatever that means. However, my son has had his share of social issues. He still struggles. To most eyes, we're lucky. Most teachers would call him normal. But tell him that when he compulsively argues until he gets in trouble, or when he gets teased by other kids because he's too eager and pushy. I know how he feels. I, too, struggle socially, even if I've learned how to put on a good act.

The impact such differences will have on your life and sense of self is all in your frame of reference. For example: sports. We live in Colorado, an hour away from world-class ski slopes. We ski and snowboard and snowmobile. In the summer we jeep and we are taking up motocross. I have a huge "slednecks" sticker on my jeep from the last XGames, but most people from my upper-middle class neighborhood have no idea what that even is.

Unlike most other parents, we choose not to have our kid play baseball and basketball so that we have time and opportunity to go to the mountains and do those sports. Soccer, which runs during mud season, fits perfectly into my kids' schedules and personalities. My kids are decent at soccer, not great, but they have fun with it. We happen to be fans of pro soccer due to some personal relationships. Most Coloradans don't even realize we have a pro team.

Yesterday at the gym, my kid said he was throwing the ball with the teacher and it wasn't that fun because he was the only one who had trouble catching it. I felt for him. 8 years old and he can't catch worth a damn. Put him on a snowboard and he rocks. He can dribble a soccer ball very well. He has long, lean legs and can run for an hour. But all he saw was that thing he can't do, and he realized that most kids his age CAN do it. It hit him that he was different, maybe even inferior.

I know all about being different and feeling inferior. I've been an artist my entire life, and I make some weird-ass art. My first published work had homosexuality in it. My magazine is fantastical and often dark-themed. When I started writing, my mother said I should write about being a mom. But that's not for me.

I suck at sports. I'm just not competitive physically. I listen to current punk rock while most people my age focus on the music of their past. I have close relationships with people I know through the internet. I hate Oprah. I don't watch House or reality TV. I frequently watch the History Channel and BBC and Fuel. I read Wired instead of People; I choose Carol Berg and Augustine Burroughs over Mitch Album and Michael Crichton. One of these things is not like the other, and that thing is me. I'm OK with it. It's just me. It's how I am. I know my limitations and I'm happy.

But it's painful to see my kid go through the same thing--to see him bounce between his own parameters and those set by others. I don't know that there's much to do about it though. Learning to be OK with one's self is up to one's self, I guess. It took me decades, but my kid is way smarter than me, so hopefully he'll catch on quicker than I did.

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