Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 28 Laughter Through Tears

You know that movie Steel Magnolias... My favorite scene is right after the funeral and M’Lynn has a fit of hysterics. All the ladies on screen (and at home watching) are crying right along with M’Lynn until Clairee spontaneously causes a distraction that leads to everyone laughing, well everyone but Ouiser, the butt of the joke. Anyway, I love it when Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy, with all the southern charm one person can muster declares that “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” I thought about that quote today. No, there weren’t any fits of hysterics or anything, but I had my own little laughter through tears moment. It was pretty silly actually...
Twice this week, a song has come on the radio and brought me to tears. Which songs? ‘Born This Way’ by Lady Gaga and ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry. Hey, no laughing... alright, go ahead. I know they aren’t songs that typical provoke streams of tears, but for me, they are. They both make me think about my son.
Ever since my son was about 3 or 4, he’s had difficulty controlling himself and behaving the way that other’s (myself included) felt that he needed to behave - Normal for the lack of a better word ( I can’t stand that word, but it can’t stand nuerotypical either... cold and sterile sounding). At home, most of the time, everything was fine. Outside of home, things were stressful. He was unable to walk in a store without swinging his arms and rolling his head. He would bounce in restaurants and at preschool, he couldn’t sit through story time. He struggled to connect with most children and seemed to frustrate easily. Over the years, we were told he had Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. Watching my son struggle every year in school was excruciating. Hearing him blame himself for a kid not liking him or seeing him fall apart when something doesn’t go the way he expected has always been heartbreaking. For every one of his struggles, he excels in something else. He may not always sound the nicest because he’s always so stressed out, but he can tell you about car after car. He may not be able to handle larger groups because of the overstimulation, but he can engineer unique and amazing LEGO creations without batting an eye. He may not understand phrases like ‘batting an eye’ because he’s extremely literal, but his brain is always thinking of new solutions. He’s amazing! If only he knew how amazing he is...
The lyrics of ‘Born This Way’ echoes being happy with how you were created. You were created perfectly! I desperately want my son to believe this about himself, but how can he do that when we’re constantly having to remind him to focus, to speak nicely. How is he supposed to feel perfect when, at school, he is shifted out of class for Occupational Therapy and Social Group to practice being the way that is deemed ‘normal’? How is he supposed to be okay with his mistakes when he is constantly being reminded to do better? He has horrible handwriting and he’s constantly erasing and rewriting his letters despite me telling him that the letter was fine, and to not worry about it. How is he supposed to relax about it when he’s being made to practice his handwriting separately from his classroom? I know that he needs a lot of the therapies that he receives, but I want him to be happy with himself despite it all. So, when I hear ‘Born This Way’, I do cry. He was born this way and I love him for it. Can’t we help him without making him feel like the problem?
‘Firework’ created the waterworks today. I know that one day, my son will be able to excel in his life and his chosen field. I have a feeling that field will involve cars and engineering of some sort, but how many people know their niche at this age? I know that things might change, but I hope he’s able to work with what he loves and right now, that’s cars. But for now, I can often tell that he “feels so paper-thin, like a house of cards, one blow from caving in” and he often tries to show how he feels before he falls apart, but many people don’t seem to hear him asking for help. They miss his behavior cues just like he misses the facial cues or nuances of speech which lead him to misinterpret a conversation. The misunderstanding makes him feel bad about himself again. But I see how he’s “original, cannot be replaced”. He already lights up my life and I hope that one day he’ll see how much value he has and that it’s always been there. He’s right up there with the moon and stars in my eyes. 
So yes, I cried a bit while driving down the road, listening to these songs. Both times, I wiped away the tears and laughed at myself. Laughter through tears really is my favorite emotion.


  1. Kelly, thank you for sharing your stories about your son. I love your perspective on how we are all created perfect, we are exactly as we're meant to be. If only society knew that and accepted all of us. I'm confident that your son will do well- he has you as his mother.

  2. Thanks Alison, that means a lot to me. I appreciate the comment and thanks for popping by!

  3. Wait! In remember commenting on this post in the past, but it appears it didn't register. At any rate, I want you to know that I, too, identify with songs on the radio. Frequently. I am with you in worrying about my children. Being a mother is a tough job emotionally. No one will ever worry about a child the way a mother does - not even the child! Keep your head up, love your child, and smile!

  4. Well, Laura, I'm glad you came back to this post then!

    I know I'm a real sap when I cry listening to Gaga! Ridiculous, but it's part of the territory with me.