It is not easier here and school is not the path to success!
I was speaking with my mother on the phone. When I told her (for the gazillionth time) that all but one of my four adopted, multiply handicapped, autistic sons had jobs and were independent (she doesn’t know this because she never visits and tries not to remember I adopted them) she said (again and again and again) “Well it must be easy to get jobs down there!”
My mother lives in Canada and I live in California.
She knows that my nephew- who was always much, much, smarter than my sons- lives in a group home. So her conclusion seems logical.
“No, I just insisted on it!” was my now worn out response.
My mom is not unique. Many people say (or think) things like this when I tell them my sons are successful. Many people also try to forget that my sons exist, that they have accomplished this much, that autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, and retardation aren’t life sentences. Many people want to believe its impossible without government support and behavioral programs.
But my sons just worked hard. They did it. And one of them is having a birthday today. I am pondering his life and amazed by all he’s done.
So let me share my definition of success: BEING INDEPENDENT AND LAW ABIDING WHILE LIVING IN ACCORDANCE WITH WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.
And that is it. Do these things and you’re a success.
I know many college graduates that can’t move away from home. My sons are pretty impressive. Especially the three, special needs, adopted, biological siblings.
Lets talk about them. One is a helicopter mechanic. One worked the pipelines as a labor hand for about 15 years but now moves cars for an insurance company. They are both awesome and inclined to fix the problems they create. Neither graduated high school and only one got a GED.
Boy number three left school in grade six. While in the educational system he was kept at a partitioned desk so that he couldn’t see anyone. They did this to control him. He spit and threw chairs. He learned nothing (except how to spit and throw chairs).
I removed him. In a few years he learned to read, write, and do enough math to manage money (mostly). Thus- in my opinion- he was equipped to be independent. He got a driver’s license and moved out.
He was fired many times and moved home often at first.
He learned to cut grass and to keep a lawnmower around for the down times. He broke many of them because he was too impatient to watch out for rocks and potholes.
He learned. He improved. He adventured.
He got his dream job and worked for two years as a professional driver. He owned his own quality car and has had the same apartment for 8 years.
His dream job was stressful because one of the bosses didn’t like him.
My son has overcome being limited by fetal alcohol syndrome and mental retardation. He has worked away his tic disorder, his autism, and his IQ has risen into the low end of typical. He is a miracle. But sometimes people don’t like him.
He left the job and the stress of being disliked. He returned his car so that he could relax and not worry about payments and decided to be happy and physically fit by returning to lawn mowing.
It is not easier for him, for any of these children; it is harder. They are not given breaks or programs or handouts, they persevere despite the difficulties. They are not college graduates. They are successes.
I don’t point to their degrees. I point to their manhood.
My lawn mowing son can barely write. But he is admirable. So, when his flier made others laugh, it made me laugh too, with the glee that accompanies pride.
So when you read the sign he put up at the post office perhaps you will appreciate that it only takes a few skills to make a life worthwhile.
Government programs aren’t what we need. Heroes like my sons are what we need.
Heroes with work ethics, family and neighbor support can improve your community, as long as you set your radar on ‘appreciate’ rather than ‘judge’.
My son is the most amazing man. He is 31 today. And he mows lawns.