Archives for posts with tag: speech and mindfulness

My son talks with me a lot.

The conversations are often challenging, but words cannot convey the depth of love, pride, and amazement I feel when he asks questions that I doubt many 15-year-olds ask anyone.

And society teaches us that Autism is a disability. Makes you wonder.

Now, he may wish I were dead before this is all over, but I’ve decided to start writing about our conversations.

Some of the topics don’t belong on a blog that’s not rated “mature”, so I’m afraid you won’t hear about those (except in thickly veiled terms). But many of them seem quite universal. And having these conversations with a young adult who looks from a very a-typical point of view sheds a sometimes poignant perspective on the topics.

“Mom, am I a bad person?”

My heart wrenches, just remembering those words.

This question arose in the car on the way to school one morning, the day after he had told me about three incidents at school.

Incident 1:

“I kinda got in trouble today because I threw fluffy seeds on a kid when we were outside.”

Oh, he didn’t like it, huh?

“No, I guess not.”

Well, it might help to remember that, just like you can’t stand it when other people sing, other kids at school have their things that they can’t stand. So maybe this kid doesn’t like fluffy things.

“Yeah, maybe.”

So, why did you do it, anyway? Did you mean to upset him, or were you teasing him? Or you just wanted to see what he’d do?

“Well, I was doing this story in my head where this other guy and I were doing a joke to throw fluffy seeds on him, and see if it made him turn fluffy… And that kid just happened to be there.”

Oh, so you were doing a story, and it wasn’t even about the kid you threw the seeds at?

“Right.”

Oh, okay. Well, just try to remember that you don’t like people singing around you, so it’s nice to be considerate of others when you do things to them, and ask yourself if you think they’d really like it. Okay?

“Okay.”

Incident 2:

“Well, there was this other thing that happened…”

Yeah? What was that?

“Well, I kinda went ‘Arrghhh’ (gesticulating a lunge) at SingerBoy today because he was singing and I didn’t want him to.”

Ooooh… Wow, that’s pretty agressive! So this is back to having consideration for others, isn’t it?

“Yeah…”

So, what did SingerBoy do when you did that?

“Well, he kicked me in the… you know…”

(I’m sorry – I couldn’t help but laugh…) Gee, I hear that really hurts!

“Yeah…”

So you must have really made him mad. Maybe he thought you were picking a fight. And you know, maybe his Dad has taught him to fight back when someone picks on him…

(silence)

And you know he really loves to sing… Just like you love to do your stuff. You wouldn’t like it if someone lunged at you for leaving bits of sticker paper on the floor, would you?

“Well, no…”

Incident 3:

“This little kid asked me what I was playing on my DS today, and I said, ‘Well, you don’t really need to know; it’s rated Teen’. And then he said, ‘Oh, Ghost Recon. That’s nothing. I play Halo.”

Such confusion. To the literal mind, never in the world would a 10-year-old be playing Halo, of all things! So I focused on the tone of voice.

You know, it sounds like you might have been talking a bit like a Know-It-All… People kinda don’t like Know-It-Alls…

(silence)

Do you know what a Know-It-All is?

“Well, I guess not… Someone who knows everything?”

Explanations ensued. How we make friends. How we think about other people’s feelings. How we try to get along with others (amazingly, he was actually listening).

How, in a school, where EVERYONE has something that drives them nuts (since it’s a school especially for kids with ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, etc.), it’s especially important to understand that we never know what’s going to push someone’s buttons…

(silence)

Do you know what “Push Someone’s Buttons” means?

“Well, no…”

More explanations.

The things we take for granted, assuming others automatically understand…

All in that 30-minute ride home. It was enough of a dose of parenting to last us both all night. I tend to focus so much on trying to help him understand “appropriate” (read: expected) behavior, hoping he’ll get less-blind-sided by life that way.

Yes, he thought about it, so much so that by the next morning, he was worried that he might be a “bad person”.

Geez, is there any part of parenting that’s not guess-work?

I wonder if priests feel this way when they hear confessions. At least with my son and our long commute, we can spend the aftermath doing damage control.

It’s far more fun spending half an hour telling my kid how awesome he is, and how the other kids might have gotten ‘talks’ too (since in many cases their actions deserve a little discussion, as well), and watching the smile and raised eyebrows of relief spread across his face… than it is to lecture on how we should behave in order to keep out of trouble.

Thank goodness both sink in.

And like magic, the next day is a good day.

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Browsing through a bookstore the other day, I came across (on the buy 2 get 3 table) a book by Larry Winget, titled “Your Kids Are Your Own Fault”.

I picked it up out of curiosity. Wow… Yep, featured on Fox News… um, okay…

As I gingerly placed the book back on the table (didn’t want those cooties!), my Best Friend told me I needed to buy it. We argued for a few minutes, until I realized that I’d be getting the book for free anyway (3 for 2, you know…). I relented.

About a week later, I opened it up in a mall food court after having spent a couple hours at the DMV (seemed appropriate…), and I began to skim the pages.

If you’ve read how I feel about Fox News, you can imagine how quickly I skimmed. Just following my Spiritual Guide’s instructions – minimally. Yes, I felt verbally assaulted and insulted by Mr. Winget’s presentation.

But I continued skimming, shocked with myself.

Damn, I agree with this guy.

He’s got some good ideas about parenting… Yes, Larry, I’m already doing all these things you suggest… Thank you for the affirmation… Gee, maybe my great kid is my “fault”…

As I drove home, I contemplated the new world I had entered: a world in which I agree with someone associated with Fox News.

Maybe I’m not liberal after all… Maybe I do need to watch more TV… Maybe Larry’s right, and the world is a mess…

…maybe I’m going to hell in a handbasket…

Here’s the thing: Larry’s book is a little over 250 pages long. He could have presented his parenting philosophy in about 25 pages – max. He chose to fill about 200 pages with words like this:

“If you are looking at a thirty-five-year-old disaster, face it, folks: it’s too late. You have failed as a parent. You have failed yourself, your child, and your child’s children. You have failed society. And all of us will end up bearing the burden of your failure. Thanks! Think of that next time you bump into a thirty-five-year-old idiot; you should send his parents a thank you note because it’s their fault.” (from page 12)

Why? Why does he feel he has to yell at me – yes, me? (he specifies that several times…)

I wonder why people “like Larry Winget” (who are, of course, empty of inherent existence) feel they need to yell at people to get their ideas across.

Maybe he thinks I’m stupid and can’t think for myself.

Here’s the Buddhist stream-of-consciousness commentary:

Well, if Larry Winget is appearing to my mind, then I created the cause for this appearance, my angry-commentator-karma has ripened, oh damn, what do I do, what do I do?

Then my Best Friend pointed out: No, we brought him to your attention, you’re just peeking into the world as it appears to others for a moment… It’ll be over soon…

Whew. That’s better. I’m so glad Larry Winget stopped yelling at me. Now I can get on with my (hopefully) loving parenting.

By the way, if my son turns out all right, please give him the credit. All I’ve done is tried to be a good mom.

(this post was inspired by this post from giulas41 and this post by Anupadin)


Sometimes the delivery kills the message.

I can’t tell you – personally – the message that Fox News delivers, because I can’t stand to listen to or watch it.

I’ve been meditating (regularly) for 12 years – maybe longer. One thing I’ve learned from that practice is that anything that delivers aggressively disturbs my mind, and is not worth my time and energy.

I guess I’ve gotten pretty sensitive. If I walk into a room, even if the TV volume is muted, I often know right away if Fox News is playing. And I want to leave – immediately.

It’s kind of a shame, because I do know this: Fox News broadcasts people talking. And these people reallyREALLY – want to be heard. But I’m not hearing them…

When someone gets in my face, I tune it out.

I figure that if they feel they have to brutally accost me with a riot mentality, then I’m probably better off not hearing what they have to say.

And the world – my world – is far better off without that energy.

Our world arises from our minds. What we absorb and pay attention to… that’s what manifests our world.

I want a world filled with thoughtful, considerate, well-researched objective journalism, that presents facts and credits the populace with the intelligence to reach their own conclusions.

I’m happy to consider anyone’s point of view; I just don’t like being bullied, so I refuse to participate.

When it’s all over but the shouting, the shouting tends to drown out the answers. When Fox News stops yelling, I’ll start listening.



So, I was talking with my friend John the other day, and I mentioned that I tend not to like to have long phone conversations. His reply: “Yeah, I noticed…”

Food for thought.

I think that tendency comes from a few sources.

The first would be phone conversations with “boyfriend” in high school… You know the kind: “So, what are you doing?” “Oh, nothing.” “Yeah? And what are you doing now?” “Oh, just listening to you…”

The second source could be years of studying and practicing Buddhism, 4-1/2 of which I spent as a nun, while much emphasis was placed on avoiding “meaningless activity” and “meaningless speech”… I generally didn’t watch TV (which is why I still think of buildings first, when I hear the word “House” – I was an architect, too) or spend time on the internet (which is why I feel like a real dinosaur as I jump into this postaday thingy).

The third source comes from spending years as a workaholic single mom of a child with special needs – I often just didn’t have the time.

Now that I’m back “in the world”, I’ve got a lot to learn about it (especially as others experience it), and I’m learning the value of friendships and connecting with others.

Several of my new blogging buddies write about getting pissed off, the mind, and  dreams (one of my favorite topics and a new category to add!). I’m finding there are more people out there of like minds than I imagined.

So I’m getting back on the “phone”.

Cheers!