Thursday, August 14, 2008

Making Friends with the A Word

Having trouble meeting new friends or new people for that matter? Well if you are a mom of two autistic kids, then you sure are!?

I have always found the moments of seeking, finding (stalking) other moms who seemed approachable, friendly, and kindred-spirits to be an adventure—perhaps more than most? But it never seemed to work out passed the “Oh, and this is my autistic child...” stage.

One day I was talking to a small group of women who seemed nice, friendly and “potential.” (Hehe, I’m in!!) One of the ladies, who I also knew, liked to have women over to her house for lunch. So one day I noticed her approaching my car and smiling at me as if she wanted to tell my something and I was thinking: Yahoo! She gonna ask me over for lunch, or better yet, cocktails! So I rolled down my window and flashed a big, fat sure-let’s-have-lunch kind of smile and she said:

“Oh my God, I didn’t know you have two of ‘them’” and handed me a prayer card of Saint Jude. Needless to say, quoting “Oh my God” was the only connection we had that day. And no luncheons for me—sorry!

Okay, I lied, she eventually did ask me over, (she probably got desperate) and while we (my kids and I) were sitting at her kitchen table eating crackers/cheese and sandwiches that she had made for us, she was “literally” vacuuming around Meghan (with her little mini-vac) the entire time (if you can imagine that?) and then said to me as we were leaving, which was sooner than later, “Your house must be a mess!”

(Yes, frankly, Bitch it is!!) And for the record, there were hardly any crumbs under Meghan’s seat!

I also used to go to this one fabulous park. It was so fabulous that it was well worth the 20-minute drive that it took from my house to the park. With two autistic kids in tow and me empowered (wired, rather) drinking a whopping size ice coffee from Dunkin Donuts (pre Starbucks in my town) and, of course, the convenience of a drive-up window: Oh, come now, how could I possibly go anywhere without it having a drive-thru window!? Really? I even got bread and milk this way one day: “I’ll have a large ice-coffee, two cookies, half a dozen bagels and oh, yes, enough cartons of milk to equal a gallon…” (So what’s taking Stop & Shop so long to come up with their drive thru window, huh??)

Again, this park was great and a popular mom spot—every time I went there, there were new faces to meet. And before my daughter appeared to be autistic (too young to notice) I would have great conversations with other like-minded women/moms. Until one day. Oh, you knew this day was coming…when people noticed that Meghan was just a little, um, different than the other kids. Women would walk up to me--big, white smiles, and be very pleasant and nice, until they asked: “So which one is your child?" Then off to the other side of the park they would sprint.

One day I went to sit at the sandbox with Meghan and the other moms got up and left—all at once, too (a mere coincidence? Uh, No!), how obvious and very painful—for me, thank goodness not for Meghan—that was one consolation! One mom, however, lingered and smiled and then asked the inevitable question: “What does she have?” It still stunned me (even though I kind of expected it) but it broke my heart to hear…
“Autism,” I said.
“I thought so, she said, “I teach special ed.”
(of course you do, I thought!)
And then she left with her perfect little girl—and was gone, bye, bye!

So, that's my earliest history of making friends…fun, huh! They might as well have sung in unison: Hey, look at the lovely lepers on this nice, sunny, summer's day trying to fit in!! Hey, at least they didn’t poke us with sticks and tell us to get away! Now that would be awful!!

I still went back to that park twice a week and, let’s just say, was just a little less interested in making friends…but how could I anyway with two autistic kids running in different directions…sometimes I wonder just how I did it!

No comments: