xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: Other People

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Other People

I'm starting to discover that the most difficult part of my personal journey with autism is made that way mainly because of Other People. Many of my friends experience difficult behaviors, and language deficits, and sensory issues, and these are the things that make their lives difficult. Other friends battle with school districts, or insurance companies, or Regional Centers, or whatever "official" agency is involved in their lives. But I've been (OMG SO) lucky that my experience has been relatively easy, and as such I'm able to go outside my own inner space and notice that my biggest problem has really nothing to do with my son or myself: it's about Other People.

Other People, and their attitudes about how we take up space in front of them. Other People and how my ideas about how to be a human being are different from their ideas. Other People and how much they just don't know about our lives, our feelings, our perspectives, but still have an opinion about it. Other People and their (sometimes unfortunate) need to tell me about how what they think is different from what I think, even if I don't ask. Or care.

Child 1 goes through phases of things that he is "interested" in. I put that word in quotes because when he finds a subject he likes, it's not so much an "interest," as it is an "all consuming, overwhelming obsession." These topics come and go, although some, like BART, are here to stay (forever and ever and OMGEVER). For example, he was really into elevators for a while, so we would spend our weekends riding elevators, but these days he's really interested in stores. He loves his stores. He likes to talk about how there's a Target in Richmond, and one in Emeryville, and another in Pinole. And then there's a CVS on Solano, and one on San Pablo, and another brand new one is opening up on Telegraph!!!! And so, we spend a good deal of time on the weekends visiting these various stores. You would think that going to Target every weekend was a good thing but, oddly, even Target gets boring when I have nothing I need to buy. (I tend to do a lot of impulse buying. I mean, I don't HAVE an eyelash starter kit from Revlon, but do I know for sure that I don't need one?)

This weekend we went to check out the brand new CVS that will be opening at some point in the next month. (The store is right next to the middle school he'll be going to, but does he care about the middle school? No. Not one bit. He cares that there's a CVS opening right next door sometime soon. I'm jealous). Anyway, we go to the eventual CVS, and as I pull into the parking lot I see that it's been roped off, as if they're trying to prevent people from wanting to shop there. But since we're not there to buy an Eyelash Starter Kit, I drive past the cones and into the parking lot. Really what we want to know is the date that the store will be opening, so that we can be there for its grand opening, and I'm hoping there will be a sign or something. I see that there are signs on the door so we park and get out to look more closely. Unfortunately the signs don't give a date, they just say something like "we're not open, sorry you can't buy toothpaste yet." We stand there for a bit, anyway, looking through the windows; it's just a big empty space inside and there are no shelves installed. I figure it's going to be at least another couple of weeks before we can actually go inside, so I tell him that and we go back the car to move onto the next CVS.

As I'm pulling backwards to leave the parking lot, I am approached by one of these Very Typical Berkeley People. Very Typical Berkeley People are major hippies, who feel a sense of entitlement about themselves and their importance in the world and as such they are all kinds of up in your grill about stuff. These are the people who stop me in Trader Joe's to tell me I shouldn't let my kid run back and forth down the aisles, even though he's not actually bothering anybody (and I know this because I'm fucking watching him). They will find my kid in the horticulture store and report him to the manager because he's "unsupervised," and then I hear his name over the loudspeaker letting me know that I need to go and collect him from the office. These are the people who think they know everything about everything and have absolutely no problem informing you of that fact. He stops my car to let me know that "the store isn't open yet," and I should have known this because "the shelves aren't up." I need to know that today is the not the day that I will be purchasing shampoo from this particular CVS and I "should come back in a few weeks."

Yeah. Okay. THANKS. And I thought that it would blow this guy's fucking mind if I told him that we're not here to buy conditioner, we're just here because we really like stores. He wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about; it simply never would have occurred to him that we were there for another reason outside of his own experience. Really like stores? Who really likes stores? You go to CVS to buy shaving cream, you don't go there because you like it. But really, it's okay. He doesn't need to experience what we experience (although... would it kill him to think of something other than himself???) however... this is our obstacle. This is our problem, with our autism experience. Other People. Dealing with them, and their selfishness and their self centered crap that doesn't involve us; this is the lesson we need to learn, Child 1 and myself. How do we make our way in the world, being the people that we are, despite the fact that Other People are there, too?

It's so easy to say "forget about Other People, just worry about yourself," but that's not very realistic, because they're just always there. They're in the grocery store, and the post office, and Starbucks; they're online, they're reading my shit, and they have very very important opinions about things, which they are apparently unable to keep to themselves. Even though they don't know us from Adam (whatever that even means), they seem to know what's best for us, and they have no problem letting me know that. They lecture me in parking lots and they write long, self righteous blog posts about how they are correct and I am incorrect. How the fuck do you get away from Other People? Seriously. Because "just ignore them" doesn't seem to be working very well.

Anyway, I promised myself, after my last post, that the next thing I blogged would contain a shitty drawing, even if it didn't make any sense, so... here it is, me! YAY!