Well, it's definitely fall here in the South and that means lots of get-together, parties, and tailgating. It's a fun time of year.
Last year we felt Charlie was really too small to enjoy any of it. We mostly got him babysitters for outdoor events or anything involving a lot of people. This year, however, we think that Charlie is old enough to enjoy some of these things. He likes being pushed in the stroller and he loves to listen to his iPod, so I can take him just about anywhere.
Of course, then the anxiety starts to creep in. Charlie, in a stroller, listening to music, looks mostly normal. He has some strange eye movement from time to time, but as far as I can tell, his general appearance doesn't send up red flags.
So I'm imagining there will be some uncomfortable-ness as we run into acquaintances. Our friends know that Charlie has issues, some are more up-to-date than others, but I'm fine talking to them knowing that if they ask how Charlie is doing I can say that we're working on standing or saying the word "cup" and I won't have to backtrack completely and tell his birth story again. Not that it isn't a great story, but Hubby and I equate telling someone your kid is disabled with throwing a bomb at them. Their faces fall, they don't know what to say, and suddenly, you've ruined their day. Granted, you're the one with the disabled kid and you're actually fine with it, but now they're completely bummed out. It feels like a party foul. Dropping the disability bomb on someone is never cool and imagining a group outing where I may have to do it multiple times doesn't sound as good as an offer for a teeth cleaning. Or a mammogram.
There are a couple approaches to this. I could go with the "it's none of their business" approach. I mean, because it isn't. But these aren't strangers--these are people we know. Hubby and I were in a lot of student organizations in college and as a result, we know a lot people. Not best friends, but people we like and enjoy talking to. These people are often at football games or the birthday parties of mutual friend's children. They know us, but we haven't kept up.
We could also go with the "denial" approach wherein Hubby and I create bland excuses to cover any abnormalities in Charlie's behavior. No eye contact? Must be tired. Not running and playing with other children? Shy. Doesn't answer your questions? Distracted by his music. I hate that approach, though, because it's false and it makes it seem like we're somehow ashamed of Charlie's disabilities. I'm not ashamed. Hell, I'm proud. My kid's got a lot less brain matter than most people and he still manages to do pretty well for himself.
So, I'm thinking I've got two options:
I could post in my status update on Facebook: For those of you who haven't kept up with us, Charlie is disabled. He's two, but cannot walk or talk. We are fine with that. In fact, I still think he's cuter than your kid and KNOW he's better behaved in a restaurant.
What's that? Too bold? Too in your face? Well how 'bout option two:
I have a t-shirt printed up for Charlie that reads "I have brain damage. What's your excuse?"
Sadly, Hubby seems to have vetoed both options.