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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Early Days 10 - Happy and Healthy

In the early 1980’s I was a young divorced mother of one. Mum’s would chat and drink coffee, whilst small children played. We would speculate about our children’s future. That one would follow in the family tradition and be a lawyer, that one a doctor, this one and that one, and on they would go. When it came to my turn, I would always said the same thing, “as long as she’s happy, healthy and normal, I really couldn’t give a fig.” They would giggle and tease, ‘surely I must have some higher ambition for my child?’

As far as I was concerned, with all the ‘new’ dangers that young people were experiencing at that time, it seemed a very lofty ambition.

These days, with all the ‘new’ dangers that young people are experiencing today, such an ambition seems to be the pinnacle of achievement, although I’ve altered the motto to ‘healthy and happy.’ The healthy, I can manage as best I may, subject to the vagueries of the plague and other epidemics. The 'happy,' is a bit tougher.

It seems strange to me, that as a prime example of cynicism, pessimism and general doom, that the happiness of my children should be so important. [translation = grumpy, old, misery guts]

Americans are entitled to ‘the pursuit of happiness,’ which is all well and good, but the constitution is silent as to how you nail it down, assuming that during your pursuit, you manage to find it in the first place.

I can help my children acquire skills that foster a sense of achievement, self esteem and self worth. [translation = asking the rhetorical ‘why can’t you just be happy?’ doesn’t really cut it, autistic or otherwise] I am aware of the high incidence of suicide in the autistic community, and I can guess at some of the sources of their despair. I can visualize my boys as adults. They can dress themselves, catch a bus, make a sandwich, hold a conversation with words, and hopefully a lot more than that, but are they happy?

What makes them happy now, may not make them happy when they’re older. [translation = growth and maturity] I am doubtful that a parent can change a child’s innate personality, even if I wanted to. The raw materials are there to guide and mould, but all the therapy, teaching and acquisition of skills in the world, is not going to ‘create’ a happy person.

If you’ve come here for answers, then I’m afraid that you’ve come to the wrong place, [again] as I only have questions. Is it a legitimate goal in the first place? If it is, how do you choose the right path to reach the goal? Do you want this too, or are other things more important? Give me your best guess.

I would add, that earlier today whilst I was reading "blogs" with a small person by my side, we came across a picture on this "blog". It caused great consternation as we are about to board a boeing 747. Fortunately, once I explained that a "jet plane" is not the same as a 747, the logic saved the day.


Heidi said...

Happy... this keeps me on my toes every day. Only this evening (how serendipitous is your post again!) I was pouring out my troubles of the day, with a post-dinner glass of wine in hand, to Darling Husband. Happiness was the topic, more specifically, my inability to judge whether my autistic son was happy, sad, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, or none of the above. Therefore I was failing as a mother because, by definition, I could not provide what he wanted. Darling Husband said 'well, on a typical day I think he laughs more than he cries.'

What a good way of measuring happiness, don't you think!

kristina said...

Who needs answers when you can ask such great, essential, and necessary questions?

Us American, sillily "pursuing" happiness!

Sunshine said...

What a fantastic post...
The pursuit of happiness is such a hugely intricate topic, everyone has such varying opinions. Like you said, too, the concept of being happy takes on something else when, like you and me and lots of other people, you have some autistic in your life.
And I didn't really figure it out, did you find a picture on my blog of something...I didn't get your reference exactly, but then again, I can't find my glasses and I'm not reading without fuzziness.

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