November 15, 2009
I enjoy learning things from a book, those moments when you are
stunned at what you just read, or shocked at some statistic, some point,
some example. Those are the books I cherish. My Baby Rides the Short Bus was just such an experience.
From reading the introduction and on through the essays, I learned that some parents of special needs kids are radical prior to becoming parents and some become radicalized through parenting. I learned that they struggle, make mistakes, come to realizations about things they did, realizations that cause them pain, that inform choices they will make in the future, that serve as a catalyst for standing up and fighting for change.
I learned that, like parents everywhere, “they learn how their kids function and they make it happen as well as they can.” Just like me; just like you.
But I also learned about the complexity of parenting, how it is something we learn to do, how we discover the depth of our militancy, awareness and patience, strengths sometimes we didn’t know we even had. Until we needed them.
I learned that the medical profession and schools and court systems, which can be difficult to navigate in general, can be downright ruthless when dealing with a special needs child and family.
I learned how encounters with these institutions can belittle, can terrify, can cut deeply.
I also learned that encounters with other parents sometimes hurt the most.
I learned a little humility.
I learned new words: neurotypical, authentic activism, and scores of acronyms I never knew existed.
I was reminded how sometimes the simplest things are the most effective, like playing with your child. Down on the ground rolling around.
I was reminded of the intensity of love. How sometimes the best thing to do is pick up your child off the floor and walk away, leave the office, ignore the advice. And yet, sometimes the most difficult act of love is to let go, to trust.
Reading My Baby Rides the Short Bus, I was reminded of the ferocity with which we love, the depths of our feelings, the need for community.
I was reminded of the power of sharing stories.
These are the stories I want to hear. The stories of pain and fear, stories of surprising strength, of learning, and then of doing. As Sharis Ingram writes, “at some point you will give up trying so hard, and come to trust yourself, trust your child, trust what *is.*”
Trust me, and go get the book yourself.