I’ve written before that parenting, at it’s core, is not much different whether you are parenting a child on the spectrum or a neurotypical child. However, parents, like ogres, have layers and some of the outer layers are very different depending on the type of child you are parenting. Here are three aspects of neurotypical parenting that I don’t miss:
Birthday Parties – kids on the spectrum don’t get invited to as many birthday parties as their peers. I don’t mind because far too many children’s birthday parties turn into incredible exercises in excess. There’s too much sugar, too much parental indulgence, and too many presents. There are exceptions, but no where near enough. Interestingly, while MJ and SJ have been invited to fewer parties, the ones they’ve been invited to have been more low key.
Little League – I had a lot of fun coaching LJ and MJ in little league. To clarify, I had a lot of fun until the players’ parents started getting emotionally invested in how their child performed. That transition for parents begins around age 8, and once a few parents go down this slippery slope, the fun begins to get sucked out it. I once saw a coach climb an 8 foot fence (his players were blocking his way out of the dugout) to run onto the field yelling because an 8 year old player on the other team appealed a play to the umpire. I saw another coach come onto the field and argue a call with an umpire after a close play at home plate. The coach was lucid enough to point out the marks left by the opposing player sliding into home but not lucid enough to recognize that the player was still lying on dirt next to home plate, injured. Having the call go ‘his way’ was more important than the health of the player. There are a lot of parents that make child’s sports a learning opportunity, but there are nowhere near enough of them.
Adolescent and pre-adolescent fashions – A comfortable t-shirt (no tags!) and some sweat pants or other athletic style pants or shorts are about all that’s needed for MJ and SJ. Back to school shopping does not involve any trips to abercrombie or Hollister or long hours at the mall. MJ and SJ are largely oblivious to logos, name brands and other fashion statements. My wife and I actually need to put a little bit of work into the clothes selections so the clothes don’t stand out too much (in a negative way).