I urge you to read The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal, by Jonathan Mooney. I've been reading it at the tail end of putting Fluffy to bed, after stories and songs and lights out and cuddling. I've been snuggling up next to him with my tiny book light and reading a chapter to myself as Fluffy flip flops next to me and finally falls asleep.
It's stage 1 in a multi-stage process of his learning to go to sleep on his own. I figure, Mommy reading next to him is not too terribly different than Daddy or Mama Mama or maybe even a beloved babysitter, right? And then, it's not too different than Mommy reading from a chair next to his bed and then from one near his bed and then, perhaps if I'm bold enough to say, from the other room as he peacefully descends into the dreamland on his own.
The thing is, right now, in stage 1, he's flat against my side, craning his neck to read along with me which sparks all sorts of conversation, not terribly soporific in nature. What's a short bus? What's ADHD?
I told him the short answer about the short bus. He said a lot of things, as is his way, including this:
Differences don’t make you any worse than anyone else, whether they’re good differences or bad differences.
I thought of saying something about the 'bad differences' part, something politically correct about how we aren't to judge a difference as bad or good etc etc but you know? As far as he's concerned, not being able to walk is bad and doing math well is good and what am I to say to that? Turns out, I didn't need to say anything because after he returned from his evening sprint to and from the bathroom, he splayed himself on the bed, breathless, suppine, and said:
Everybody is as good as everybody else. Some people are better than others at some things and some people are worse than others at some things and some people are the same at things as others but everyone is as good as everybody else.
I'm at the final chapter of The Short Bus, a story of Mooney cross-country trip in a yellow school bus that onced ferried special needs kids here and there and in this trip, ferried Mooney and an assortment of people in his "search to learn from others once labeled abnormal who have learned to live in beautifully original ways."
He's just met Jeff, a man about my age who lives in Davis, California. A man who has been called at times, autistic, Aspergerian, and mentally ill. A man whose behavior, Mooney felt after spending a day with him, fit the autism pattern but who answered firmly, No, every time he was asked if he considered himself autistic or Aspergian. Mooney says:
"There were two ways to make sense of my day with Jeff. Option A: Assume Jeff is just uninformed or in denial. Option B: Assume Jeff has the capacity to create his own truth about himself."
Mooney selects Option B.
Before their parting, Jeff selects papers from the personal notebooks he carried with him that day, makes photocopies, and gifts a collection he calls a 'book of wisdom' to Mooney. Some of these are reproduced in the book. I give you one of them:
ALL THAT HAS
OFFENDED ME I FORGIVE.
WITHIN AND WITHOUT,
I FORGIVE. THINGS PAST,
THINGS PRESENT, THINGS
FUTURE, I FORGIVE.
I FORGIVE EVERYTHING
AND EVERYBODY WHO CAN POSSIBLY
OF THE PAST OR THE PRESENT.
I FORGIVE POSITIVELY
EVERYONE. I AM FREE
AND THEY ARE FREE, TOO.
ALL THINGS ARE
CLEARED UP NOW
BETWEEN US NOW
Jeff attribues this to "Dr. Ponder's Posterity Decrees Brochure." I don't know what that means but I don't have to. I only have what he wrote down, copied and gave to Mooney.
And that will last me a lifetime.