Monday, September 04, 2006
Abe Lincoln, Discrimination, and a Dose of Perspective Taking
Over the long weekend, we took the kids to D.C. For me, it was my first time right along with Leo (turns 8 in Oct.)and Sydney (5). As a 41 year old, I was quite taken with it. The cleanliness and magnificance of The Air and Space Museum, the Capital, the National Zoo, and the areas around the White House. The shear number of priceless artifacts in the Air and Space. A piece of the moon? THe first space crafts? Incredible. How grand that Washington Monument is. I had a good time people watching and wondering what they were thinking. It certainly makes a good impression that all is good and all is equal. We can pretty much go anywhere and for free. I got caught up in observation. I felt proud. I felt sad. I felt nervous. So many emotions. I relished the experience and that I could share it with Leo, since he was just old enough to "get" the relevence and importance of our capital.
Really no thoughts about ASD had entered my mind until we hit the Lincoln Memorial. I had a wave of emotion come over me as I stepped into the building and began reading the wall that contains the The Gettysburg Address. He "got me at hello", the first paragraph that ends "and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
I saw African Americans taking pictures of themselves. I saw Arabs. I saw Indians. I saw everyone it seems. I wondered how their take on "freedom" differed from mine. I wondered what they thought of me and all the other Americans walking around that day. I began to cry silently and I couldn't stop for about a half hour. I thought about how far we've come to treating each other equally, and it was a nice reminder. But, then I wonder how far we'll be able to go. How much of discrimination is human nature? How much can we evolve?
I look over to see the elevator in a side room. I wonder if people in wheelchairs had to fight to get that thing installed. A right to see the memorial that discusses equality without someone having to carry them. The irony. My thoughts then went to Autism. I'm sure Abe wasn't thinking about our children, but his life, this speech made after battle, did have a positive impact on our quality of life. Then I thought how sad it was that special needs children still face discrimination, that no one still really gets ASD outside of ASD families and providers. And finally, my thoughts come to the cold fact that we have no real Autism Community - that discrimination, that factions, alive in 1863 are alive and kicking today. I am still dedicated, and I hope anyone reading this is too.
And on other topics - here are my favorite quotes from the kids:
1) "Mom, I know we're going to meet George Bush no matter what you say. And I promise I won't tell him you didn't vote for him. That would make him feel bad."
2) After approaching a long line for the Archives, Sydney says "Mom, do you REALLY want to wait in such a long line?" Of course, she said this because SHE didn't want to wait in the line. She said it really loud and clear, and a large number of people turned around when she said it. Leo looked at me, sighed, and said "Now I'm really embarrassed."
3) After riding 3 subway trains, we were walking toward the giant stairs. Sydney says loudly "Hey! We get to see the world again!"
4) On the long car ride home, I mentioned that I may drive them to school the next morning to give them some extra time. Sydney got very excited, she could do more "big girl" things like walk from the car inside. I explained that if the buses were still there, I'd have to drop her off at the lower parking lot, and they'd have to walk. She loved that idea, even MORE of a "big girl" activity. Leo said, "Trust me, you're not going to like it Syd, you have to walk up those long stairs, it's crowded, people get in your way. It's not fun."
5) Leo vehemently wanted a Ground Hog habitat (the zoo)for our rabbits. He fell head over heals in love with them.
6) Naturally, the "best" "most AWE-some" part of the trip was the Planetarium. He really got those basic concepts of the universe forming, etc. He was quite impressed, and he enjoyed the "relaxing" music.