Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2 Words You'll Never Hear Me Say To The Boy

The 6 train travels from the top of The Bronx to the tip of the City, through posh and poor neighborhoods.  It's part of my daily commute to and from work.   Hidden behind dark sunglasses and head bopping to Jay Z, Alicia Keys or Nas; the 6 is where I sleep, write, drink coffee and people watch.  

Mostly people watch. I should have been a sociology major.  For those who've never experienced public transportation in New York City, think of it like every trashy reality show but confined in an underground moving space.  I like to watch all kinds of people, listen to what they're saying.  I am always inspired on the 6.  

Anyway...I often observe parents interacting with their children.  I'm not judging.  I'm observing.

And one thing I've observed is that some parents ignore their children.  Not all. Some.  And some parents tell their children to "be quiet" or "shut up." (as a kid, I was a little chatterbox and  was always told to "c├íllate."  Never mind what the nuns did to me at my catholic school - my desk was always in the corner and tape was put on my mouth.  Hhmmm maybe that's why I write?)

And that always kills me.  

I waited so long to hear The Boy speak.  And I know of so many parents who are still waiting.  Some parents wait a lifetime.  

And even though The Boy can talk.  It's so rare when he talks TO me.  It's so rare when he asks me a question.  And it's so rare that he is excited to share something with me that he can't "shut up" about it.

I remember those first few months before and after diagnosis, friends, family and strangers would say to me "Just you wait, once he starts talking you'll be begging him to shut up."

Well, he's been talking for some time now.  And I've yet to tell him to shut up.  (The hours between 1 and 4 am don't count - I'm asking him to stop talking and go to sleep.  There's a difference.  And even then I feel guilt ridden.)

When The Boy talks.  I stop and I listen.  I want him to know that I hear him.  And that I value what he has to say.

And I'll be honest, there are times when The Boy goes on about stuff and I have no clue what he's talking about.  Sometimes, I have to stop and really think.  But I stop, look and listen.  Always. 

As a parent I get it.  You're tired.  In the morning, if you have to take your kid to school on the train and then go to work - you're already tired by the time you've gotten on the platform.  At the end of the work day, you're thinking about dinner and laundry and bills and your kids homework.  You're exhausted.  I get it.

But when your kid is excited and talking to you about their day and you ignore them.  You know what your kid may feel?  They may feel that they are not worth listening to.  They may feel that whatever they have to say is not worth saying.

Let's say you're talking to your best friend and smack dab in the middle they say "Can you be quiet?  I'm tired."  Wouldn't you feel pretty crappy?  I would.  

Imagine how a child feels. When you constantly tell them to "be quiet" or "shut up" - they may just listen.  And you're missing out. 

That's why I'll never tell The Boy to "be quiet" or "shut up."  I don't want to miss out.  I am always listening.  I am always waiting to hear what The Boy will say next. 

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.