I am Caucasian, of Irish, English, German, Dutch, Scottish and Welsh descent. I have traced my genealogy, tracking where my ancestors immigrated from when they entered the US, and though I have had ancestors who came over during the 1500s, the countries above come up in their countries of origin with surprising regularity. And I’ve not even found any First American ancestry in my family tree to make things more interesting (and a genetic test that my dad took confirmed that he at least is overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon with no trace of American Indian, though we do have some Neanderthal and Denisovan, so perhaps my ancestors weren’t as stodgy stick to your own kind as they seem!). My husband, Andy’s, parents immigrated from the Philippines, which is its own mixing ground of ethnicities. Andy has ancestors from Spain, China, Saudi Arabia, and, naturally, the Philippines.
When I was a teenager, my mom worked for several years with a nonprofit that focused on preventing child abuse. She taught parenting classes and classes on what child abuse looks. Later I followed in this path, teaching parenting classes to adults who had lost custody of their children due to abuse or neglect. One conflict both my mother and I got into with people was whether or not it was okay to spank children. My mother would point out that my sister and I were never spanked and we were extremely well behaved teenagers. My sister and I were the Hermione Grangers of our schools, we wouldn’t think about breaking the rules. People would tell her my sister and I were naturally good and positive parenting wouldn’t work with most children. Well, now I have a son with autism, and we have struggled with undesirable behavior.
It was a beautiful morning at the playground and Buddy and Sissy were having a good time, when a little girl came up with her mother. She was the type of child I get hopeful about when I see on the playground because she was outgoing and bubbly, two traits that tend to help Buddy come out of his shell and socialize. Like I predicted, she came up and started talking to Buddy. And her mother started apologizing for her.
I was never raised to believe in a deity or pray. And while I have been in several tight situations, I never saw the need for prayer and got through just fine. When I’m in an emergency situation pretty much all of my concentration and focus goes into what I need to do to stay safe. Take the time a bunch of tornadoes ran through Fort Worth in 2000.
Recently, an acquaintance told me she heard something about how taking Buddy to a chiropractor could cure him of autism. I told her I was rather skeptical of such things, and that I’m not looking for a cure. Amazingly it was the first time I was confronted with unsolicited cure talk, but I know other parents get it. And I can see why it gets old fast. In short, I’m not looking for a cure or a miracle. My goal is to accept my son. My hope is that others will accept him.
One thing I find interesting is the question of whether or not there is a genetic predisposition to atheism or religiosity. I was raised by atheists, and when I was younger I used to worry that I didn’t come about my atheism honestly, through free inquiry from questioning a religious upbringing. Never mind the fact that growing up in the Bible Belt gave me plenty of exposure to Christianity and opportunities to debate it. And as I’ve gotten older this has been less important to me. But I do find the interaction of genes and environment interesting to consider.
This evening I was walking around the house with Buddy trailing me while streaming my amazing kids music station from Pandora. I managed to create a good balance of kindie bands like Laurie Berkner and TMBG with classics such as Puff the Magic Dragon and other kids songs. At the moment, “The Rainbow Connection” was playing, and Buddy stunned me by talking about rainbows while putting his arms over his head in an arch. I wondered where he’d learned that. But what he did next really floored me.