Tuesday, November 26, 2019

When Ignorance Comes Calling

We all know them....the people that walk around cursing about our world that is supposedly filled with young people who are "too sensitive" or have it "too easy".  Their sentences typically start with the words "back in my day" before they tell you how men were men and women knew their place in the kitchen.

They forget one simple thing...they are the generation that raised this one.  Point thy finger at thyself if you don't like what you see.

I do agree that political correctness has its proper time and context.  I don't believe we should intentionally seek to offend anyone, but I also believe that historical context is important.  As with the case of the confederate flag, I don't think people should be banned from flying one if they choose to, but I also don't believe it should fly over government buildings.  I feel the same way about religious symbols, people should have every right to display symbols at their home, but public venues should not do so (especially government buildings).

I bring this up because yesterday I happened upon a conversation at work, and during the chit-chat "Mark" mentioned that his wife works as a teachers aide.  He continued on (as unfortunately so many are apt to do) that she deals with classrooms that contain kids with emotional and behavioral needs.  As he continued on (of course) he lamented that one child in particular has a full time aid with him, and yet there are still outbursts.  The last part was the peach of them all:

"When this kid is being bad, everyone has to get up and quietly leave the room.  I think they should all be told to turn their head so the teacher can give them a good smack in the head".

And there you have it.  I won't go into the layers of wrongness that this statement represents.  Ok, yes I will.

First of all, and this one is REALLY IMPORTANT, why do people with this attitude believe that everyone wants to hear this?  Is there no filter which says, maybe I could say something really offensive to someone so I shouldn't be blasting my mouth.  Secondly, the use of the word "bad" is offensive in and of itself.  Our kids are not special needs, emotionally crippled, or behaviorally inappropriate because they want to be.  These kids are imbalanced, or abused, or in some other way scarred and in need of our help.  Third, suggesting that violence toward anyone is appropriate, especially someone with special needs, is ignorant and disgusting.  

In that moment, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with Mark.  In a younger day I might have become irate and made a real stink of it.  As I've gotten older I've come to realize that my anger would not have changed his warped thinking even a little.  I decided at that very moment I would simply walk away.  There is a level of tone deafness and ignorance that even I can't penetrate.

I happened upon the other member of the conversation this morning and mentioned by disgust toward the comments Mark made.  Turns out his daughter works for a local residential facility for disabled individuals.  We discussed at length our experiences and family dynamics. 

Perhaps at some point in the near future I will take Mark to the side and have a conversation with him.  I may simply explain that he can never be sure of the personal beliefs and circumstances of those he is venting to.  I may tell him that for parents like me, its hurtful to hear someone suggest hitting an already needy child.  Even if the comments are made in jest or with a degree of sarcasm and hyperbole, they aren't appropriate and they shouldn't be said.  I know Mark well enough by now that he wasn't intentionally trying to hurt anyone's feelings, but it doesn't excuse being reckless with your words and taking the chance.

Ignorance is all around us.  Even if we have to be called "sensitive" or "snowflakes", its up to all of us to point out when someone has crossed the line of decency.  We have to do it because people like Tyler cannot do it for themselves.

Be well and God bless.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Tyler, You are Missed

We had an appointment this week with Tyler's psychiatrist to continue working on making his life better through medication and other changes.  It does seem that since lowering one of his meds, he has become a little more awake and aware, which also seems to make him a little more interactive.  His aggression has also stabilized, so maybe instead of "being in the weeds", we are simply in the rough.

Sitting in the office with Tyler and other staff, I could see Tyler wanting my attention.  This is the first time in a while I had seen him seek me out like that, so I moved close to him and gave him all the attention he wanted.

It hit me very strongly afterward just how much I miss him.  I'm not talking about in the sense that I miss the everyday interactions with him (which I do miss also), but I miss him in the sense that I imagine people with parents with Alzheimer miss them.   I miss the expressive and joyful Tyler.  I miss the Tyler that would have insisted I hold my attention to him and him alone, and the rest of the room would have had to taken a back seat.  I miss goofing off with him so much that I would get the giggles right along with him so much that I would need to apologize to those trying to talk with us. 

There may be nothing more frustrating for a caregiver that to watch a person fade away.  Sometimes that person can seem so close to the surface, and yet you can't reach them.  I want for everyone to enjoy that Tyler that I knew, and I want Tyler to enjoy being goofy and expressive, but it continues to elude us.

I don't know whether Tyler is simply hidden behind his medications, hidden behind depression, or if his brain has been so battered and bruised, that he has become lost forever.  Considering that he has been under the influence of countless medications for a quarter century, its hard to believe that his mind wouldn't have significant residual effects of this.  Surgeries have invaded his brain, and seizures have short-circuited it. 

Perhaps the worst part is the not knowing.  I want to believe that we can find the right combination of medication and circumstance that he finds that strong and cheerful persona he had so many years ago.  But it is just that...many years ago.  The regression has been like an army marching slowly toward an unknown destination.  It doesn't stop, it doesn't yield, it just consumes mile after mile. 

I told him yesterday that I missed him.  He signed "I love you" to me.  Its enough to make me continue digging in to find him, no matter where he has gone.

Be well and God bless.    Tom