The science behind Iyal’s cognitive leaps is still in its infancy. Alan M. Beck, the director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is among those intrigued by it. “There is a real bond between children and animals,” he told me. “The younger the child, the greater the suspension of disbelief about what an animal understands or doesn’t understand.” According to Beck, more than 70 percent of children confide in their dogs, and 48 percent of adults do. “The absolutely nonjudgmental responses from animals are especially important to children,” he says. “If your child with F.A.S.D. starts to misbehave, your face may show disapproval, but the dog doesn’t show disapproval. The performance anxiety this child may feel all the time is absent when he’s with his dog. Suddenly he’s relaxed, he’s with a peer who doesn’t criticize him.”
Watching people recognize our apology brought me to tears many times. It was reconciliation personified. My favorite though was a gentleman dancing on a float. He was dressed only in white underwear and had a pack of abs like no one else. As he was dancing he noticed us and jokingly yelled, “What are you sorry for? It’s pride!” I pointed to our signs and watched him read them. Then it clicked. Then he got it. He stopped dancing, became very serious, and jumped off of the float to run towards us. He and his beautiful sweat drenched abs hugged me and whispered, “thank you.”
The things he noticed weren’t exactly subtle differences either. There was something about their tones, a certain change from being serious and kind toward him to always coming across intentionally serious and sometimes harsh. He’d also noticed a difference in the words they used, a switch from words and phrases that depicted gentle care and concern to words/phrases that sometimes caused him to feel like a criminal on trial, certainly not a longtime member of a loving, forgiving church environment.
Adults do not behave this way with each other (unless they happen to be Real Housewives cast members). Adults certainly do not behave this way when dealing with people of authority or people they respect as equals. Chances are, you would never approach your boss in this way nor even colleagues without being reprimanded at best. (Yes, Rep. Rohrabacher, even in the land of the free and home of the brave.) Outside of the workplace, few in healthy, functional relationships indulge in these sorts of physical displays.
We hate that we don’t have any black friends. I feel ashamed, especially, because my friendship circle in high school resembled a Benetton ad. We know a few black women, but only as acquaintances. We don’t socialize with any black men.
Are we living in the wrong place? Giving off the wrong vibe? Why are our only non-white friends Asian ladies married to white guys?
Should we join an African immersion group? That feels forced (and our girls aren’t African, they’re black middle class being raised by white parents — read Disintegration by Eugene Robinson).
Do we take out a personal ad?
Rick Santorum feels that the right thing for him to do is campaign for the presidency. While I don't agree with his politics, I respect his decision. Santorum is showing the world that parents of kids with special needs are like any parents: We don't always sacrifice our work lives for the sake of our children, nor should we be expected to. Contrary to popular belief, we are not saints. Holding us to a higher standard of morality only makes us more likely to be denounced for making real-world choices.
I have a lot of friends who do the “duck and cover” thing when it comes to politics. I respect their decision not to discuss it, particularly in a public forum. But, the idea that talking about politics (or religion, or whatever the hot topic is) is rude, is something I’ve never understood. Are we all completely incapable of having civilized discussion about issues that matter most? I think this idea that “politics is personal” only further entrenches us in our hyper-individualism.
This kid, like all kids, is a gift. A “present” packed with presents. But, like the rest of us, there’s some stuff missing too — lost in an institution, perhaps, where he was given food,clothing, shelter, and lots of love but little alone time. Few opportunities to learn self-guidance.
One of the things I’ve always loved about blogging is the community — the remarkable connection between the people who write and read online. But as my writing work got busier, my dips into the community grew less frequent. Blog comments, which I loved reading throughout the day, would sometimes wait several days for a response. Weeks, then months would go by between feed readings. My daily social media habit scratched my conversational itch, but it doesn’t replace speaking directly with writers and readers on blogs. My joy and satisfaction as a blogger is directly connected to how much I participate in our community, both as a talker and as a listener.
When life’s knocked us around. And our childhood myths reveal themselves to be just that. The truth feels like the biggest sucker-punch of them all: It’s not a spouse, or land, or a job, or money that brings us happiness. Those achievements, those relationships, can enhance our happiness, yes, but happiness has to start from within. Relying on any other equation can be lethal. My husband had become lost in the myth. But he found his way out.
On the other hand, what I also know is that she, like me, is a person living with diabetes. Paula has type 2 diabetes, while I have type 1 diabetes, but the fact remains that she is part of the diabetes community. And just like everyone else, she has her right to disclose whatever she'd like, whenever and however she'd like. Not all of us talk about our weight. Or our A1Cs. Some of us in this community only disclose anonymously online, never whispering a word about our diabetes to our "real life" friends. We all share at a level that we alone have the right to dictate. So Paula Deen and her decision to "come out" as a type 2 diabetic is her call.
So here's me admitting that no, I didn't breastfeed past the twins' first month of life and yes my babies sleep in their bumpered cribs on their bellies and yes, we're all okay. We're better than okay. We're thriving and happy and sleeping (mostly) through the night. And a lot of that has to do with breaking rules, forgoing statistics, ignoring advice, and doing what feels right in the moment. THIS moment right now this very second.
The main problem I have with these ideas are that they seek to define Motherhood–indeed, your entire identity as a person–by the way you bake your bread, decorate your house or educate your children.