Rule #31: Quirky Is Cool
( part of the Abby- light it up blue series)
Abby you are different from most people.
You see the world in ways others do not, in ways that others have trouble understanding. I’ve learned from you that things aren’t always they way they first seem, and that there are many ways of looking at the same situation.
I remember when you were only 6 years old we surprised you by packing a bag and telling you that we were taking Collin and you to Disney world as a surprise trip. Instead of being happy you became very upset and started to cry.
What we realized was that what you liked best about trips was being with the family, and that you felt that leaving your other brothers and sister behind (who were all busy with school) it wasn’t going to be fun. You also showed us how much empathy is in your young heart, that you felt sad for them that they couldn’t come with us. Both your Mom and I never thought about the trip that way until you showed us their was another way of thinking about it.
You have a special way of thinking, a way of looking at things from a different view- an often kinder and more compassionate way.
When the doctors first told us that you had Aspergers they explained that the your would not get the “social cues” that the rest of us do. They said that although you were highly intelligent, you could not understand things like friendship , empathy and humor. When the doctors told us this we were very sad and thought that life would be difficult for you.
What I have learned in the last 10 years with you is that the doctors had it all wrong.
It isn’t that you don’t understand those things its that you see them, and approach them from an entirely different way. You understand the social cues completely, you just don’t know why they matter to the rest of us.
This past weekend when we went to Washington DC you were far more excited to meet new friends in the pool than to visit any museum. I watch you as you jumped right into the water and swam up to other kids and said..” Hi, I’m Abby what’s your name”.
Lots of the kids wouldn’t talk much or sort of ignored you, but you continued until you met over the course of 2 visits, 4 new friends. You went up to boys, girls, all races and all sizes with the complete open acceptance and love that all of the rest of us aspire to develop in our lives. You didn’t stop because kids rejected your efforts, and you didn’t pick only the white 10 year old girls to talk to you, you approached everyone as a potential friend.
In school I know you do the same thing, and can not imagine why anyone would not approach others as potential friends. You see kids having fun doing something you immediately want to be part of it and ask to join in, with no regard for you likes who, or what group involved. you see the world as an open invitation.
The problem is that many kids don’t approach the world the same way. They see the world as a set of many rules of who they are allowed to interact and in what ways. These kids have learned to be afraid of some people, to envy others and even hate others- they follow a complicated set of rules how people should talk to one and other.
These kids sometimes make fun of your openness to friendship and tease you. They sometimes take advantage of your open heart and call you weird or quirky. These kids can be cruel and mean.
What I’ve noticed in you that they are right that you are quirky, but what they don’t understand is that QUIRKY IS COOL.
Quirky people don’t judge.
Quirky people don’t call each other names.
Quirky people are kind and loving.
Quirky people embrace life and want to be part of the world without any silly rules.
I have learned that the doctors are wrong- you don’t need to learn social queuing. You need to learn to live in a world that is less kind and accepting than your heart is, you need to live in what is often a very UNCOOL world.
Today is April 2 and is National Autism awareness day. A lot of people that don’t get to have special “quirky” people like you in their families think the day is about finding a cure to aspergers and to “fix” people with it. But I think the day is about a celebration how special and kind people with Autism can be, and to teach all of us that we have much to learn from those with Autism.
We are all gifts from God and our differences should be embraced and nurtured not made into on big pot of vanilla ice cream.
Abby I love you the way you are and hope to continue to learn about how you see the world each day. Yes, you have Aspergers. Yes you are quirky.
But Abby you are very cool.