Sunday, April 25, 2010

Speaking the Truth

A young lady I met in college once said this about my girls - "It is like they are drunk. They just say whatever comes to mind, but they are honest. I wish I could be like that."

There are times I wish I could be like them, too. How much easier would it be to just blurt out exactly what you think? When asked to work on a committee that you don't want to be on you could say, "No thank you. I don't want to help. That is too much work."

Just recently, Hayley was in her Drama class and her teacher was talking about Shakespeare, I think, and apparently Hayley was not impressed. She raised her hand and said, "Can we be finished with this now?" The teacher told her that she would be done in a few minutes. Well, a few minutes later Hayley raised her hand to let the teacher know that it was a few minutes later. Thank goodness her Drama teacher is someone I know, and when she called to share this story with me she was laughing about it. I was groaning...

This brought back a memory of when Emma was "truthful" - one that still makes me cringe when I think of it.

Several years ago I was concerned about something medical, not autistic, with Emma. Because of this concern we ended up going to have a genetic screening done. We were up at Vanderbilt, maneuvering through the maze of hallways and elevators, when we finally reached the right place. As we headed down the hallway there were several benches, and that was where the woman sat. (The thought quickly crossed my mind that Emma might ask a question or make some comment to me or her dad, but it quickly sped on out of there. GREAT! Always head a warning - even if it is fleeting - even if you think that you are being ridiculous.)

The woman was a very obese African-American woman. If I had to guess, I would say that she was at least 400+ pounds. I can't remember what she was wearing, just that she had a colorful bandana on her head. Around this time my brain should have been screaming at me - "DANGER! DANGER! Turn around! RIGHT NOW! You KNOW that this is not going to be good! Turn BACK!"

Nope. We kept on walking...

And Emma walked right up to her. (Now the brain started freaking out - sweaty palms ensued, heart rate shot right up...) Emma put her hand on her arm and said, "You are the most biggest beautifulist black woman I have ever seen."

I wished that I had the power of invisibility at that moment.

My brain went into "fight or flight"mode and I did what any candidate for Mother-of-the-Year would do - I did the "scoop" (where you place your hands on your child's shoulders and quickly steer them in the opposite direction), mumbled "Excuse me" and booked it down the hallway.

I should have stayed and explained. (To be truthful I was at that point in my life where I was tired of explaining.) But where to start? I can hear the conversation now...

"I am so sorry that my daughter just said what she did, but she really didn't meant to hurt your feelings. She's autistic and tends to just say what she feels. I mean, you are black, and she would have used the term African-American if she could clearly speak it. And you are big, quite possibly you are the biggest woman she has ever seen. But she wasn't making fun of your size - I swear it..."

At what point would she have punched me right in the mouth?


To this day I hope that the only word she heard was "beautifulist" - because to Emma she was just that. All the other words described physical characteristics only. Beautiful describes a person inside and out. Imagine if I had tried to explain it - how much worse I could have made it. Her sentence was pure honesty, my explanation would have been my interpretation. So even though Emma used all those other words to get her point across, her use of "beautifulist" almost negates the rest of the statement. (Kinda like a Diet Coke canceling out the calories in a donut.)

Now, can you imagine what will come out of their mouths when they are old enough to drink? Oh boy...


  1. You make me laugh, you make me cry. I miss you guys and wish I could experience (some of) this first hand!

  2. You should have stayed. The woman was probably thinking.... "She thinks I am beautiful." I love the blog. I just just hear my girl trying to get the Drama teacher to move on already to something less, well, boring. Love her to pieces and then some.