Hold my hand

November 23, 2009 at 5:35 am 6 comments

     I have long felt the frustration of knowing I need to teach C how to make it in this world while at the same time wanting to preserve and protect his unique personality. I’d like to think those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but sometimes, unfortunately, they just are. Caught between wanting to help him not stand out in what is considered a bad way and wishing kids would just mind their own business has left me frustrated and angry with the way of the world.

     A member of C’s team pulled me aside last week and said he’d been holding hands with his friend “T,” the boy I consider his first real friend. A truer Mutt and Jeff there never has been; T outweighs C by probably 50 pounds and is as tall as C is short. They are quite the pair, drawn together by their mutual love for Mario and T’s uncanny ability to just be C’s friend. 

     So why shouldn’t C hold T’s hand? Who cares, really? Apparently, the other kids do. I’m not sure if it was directed at the boys or if C just overheard someone talking, but he now knows what he calls “the ‘G’ word.” He knows “gay” is considered bad despite not really knowing what it means.

     I’m in a conundrum here, for many reasons. The first of which is that both Husband and I are fully supportive of gay rights, gay marriage, adoption by gay couples, you name it. That being said, we know it is not yet developmentally appropriate for C to know about sex and its relationship to the “G word.” So explaining what “gay” really means is something I don’t feel he’s ready for just yet. Quite frankly, if we even mentioned that men sometimes marry men, I’m pretty sure he’d ask T to marry him across his crowded classroom, and then there would be an entirely worse set of problems.

     Which brings me to my second conundrum. I am so tired of feeling as though we need to change C’s behavior and actions to match what other kids deem appropriate. His holding T’s hand is as innocent as it is sweet. Telling him holding hands with another boy is inappropriate makes me want to rebel against all that is deemed “normal” and “typical.” Yet at the same time, if we don’t help him with this, it will be just one more thing that makes him stand out from the crowd.

     I want C to stand out from the crowd – he always will no matter what he does, both in marvelous ways and in ways others find unsettling. The last thing I want to do is turn C into a generic clone, although I realize this will never be the case. And while there are some things I refuse to try to change about C, this is probably a situation where I should just go with the crowd. However, I’m hoping that down the road, we can go back to C and tell him that in fact some boys DO hold other boys’ hands, and that it is perfectly okay. But in the meantime, we’ll just have to go with that rule.

     I don’t like this new rule; I think it goes against not only my personal beliefs about people being allowed to love whomever they love, but it also takes away some of C’s innocence all for the sake of not standing out for something other kids say is wrong. So while Husband was back in C’s room tonight telling him that in 3rd grade, boys just don’t hold other boys’ hands, I was left feeling as though we have somehow sold out just a little bit.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

C-isms Part XVIII Tank-full

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pixiemama  |  November 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Rework it. If C can’t hold his friend’s hand, it’s because third graders don’t hold hands at all, not boy-girl, not girl-girl, not boy-boy. And if the district doesn’t want to make that the rule, then C should go right ahead and hold hands with whomever he wants.

    I feel for you. All you want is for C to be happy. You all deserve that.

  • 2. mama edge  |  November 23, 2009 at 9:40 am

    When my kids want to do something that’s inappropriate for bizarre cultural reasons, I just tell them that we live in a weird world. So, “No, you can’t be naked when your friend comes over because lots of people are uncomfortable with nudity” and “No holding hands with ME (wah!) at school ‘cuz the kids will tease you”” and “You can’t tell that fat lady that she’s fat ‘cuz it’ll hurt her feelings” are part of the package of living in this weird world.

    Sad that hand-holding is such a taboo, though, isn’t it?

  • 3. therocchronicles  |  November 23, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Aww – that is really sweet. I can see your problem though as I feel the same way that everyone should be able to love who they love, and it’s so sad that at this early age kids start in on each other for their differences. You want him to be able to express himself but don’t want others to cause him pain.

  • 4. Erica77777  |  November 24, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Oh, sweetie, I COMPLETELY understand. I wish you lived closer so I could take you out for lots of chatting over a decadent dessert (or a stiff drink, your choice). Just know that I get ya. And you are truly a lovely and sensitive mama.

    How about a drink AND dessert? 😉

  • 5. robinaltman  |  November 25, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    This reminds me of a story. . .(of course). When Kevin was 4, his favorite color was pink. This freaked my husband out and made me laugh. My silly husband explained, “Kevin, boys don’t usually like pink as a favorite color. Pink is a girl’s color. Boys usually like green or blue or something.” Then he tested Kevin by asking, “Kevin, what’s your favorite color now?”

    Kevin thought for a moment and then said, “Not pink!”

  • 6. Julie  |  December 3, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Wow,,whenever I think i know whats going on in terms of how cruel things can be at such an early age , I find out I am totally in the dark 😦 That just makes me very sad. I want to rebel too so let me know and I’ll be right along side you !


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