We all know somebody who is a "one-uper." You know the kind- tell them about a friend of yours who *gasp* just had a 12.5 lbs baby, and they tell you about their cousin who had a 15 lbs-er. Mention when your daughter broke both her wrists at once, and you'll hear all about when their kid was in a body cast. You don't start the conversation intending it to be a competition, but it always ends up feeling that way. Fun.
I was reminded of this phenomenon today at church. CJ and I were sitting next to a lady who started asking us about JJ. It seemed innocent enough at first. The woman said she noticed JJ wasn't with us today. (He stayed home with a sitter.) She asked if he went to school. Yes, we said, he goes to school and is in a special classroom for kids with severe developmental delay. Oh, I know all about that, she said, my son has adhd and couldn't sit still. He had to take medication to calm him down. Not exactly the same thing, but I let it slide.
She said she had noticed us struggling with keeping him quiet. Yeah, we said, he doesn't talk but he sure can be loud. Then she told us about how her oldest son was "slow talker" too. Um, I thought to myself, your child who didn't put a sentence together until he was two and a half is on a totally different plane than my son who is two weeks shy of seven, SEVEN, and says nothing. NOTHING. But I didn't say this to her.
Then the kicker: "I had a very rebellious child who got herself into lots of trouble, and I know that God sent her to me to test me. God must have really wanted to humble you to send you your son." !!!!! Did I hear her right?? Eye contact with CJ tells me Yes, I did. Did she even realize the insult? Apparently CJ and I were walking around thinking we were the shiz with our overblown egos, then we had JJ. That must have knocked us down a few notches. A kind of backwards one-upance. She comes out better than us, somehow.
Its not a competition. There's no "my autism is better/worse than your autism." I have to believe this woman that sat next to me in church didn't mean to turn a friendly conversation into a contest. No intent to be insulting. I'm sure she walked away completely unaware of the impact her words had on me. (And absolutely unaware that she'd keep me up till 2am blogging about it.)
I have a far different view of "why" JJ is my son. And its not because he's the needle that pooped our inflated heads. It has to do with what was meant to be. About the way our puzzle pieces fit together. Acceptance, creativity, patience, tolerance, kindness, unconditional love. These are the things JJ has encouraged in us. It has nothing to do with bringing us down and everything to do with lifting us up. I win.